Mental Health Matters Awards 2018

Community champions, workplace support programs and community groups who have come together to support each other were some of the recipients of this year’s Mental Health Matters Awards.

That annual awards are run by WayAhead and presented during the annual Mental Health Month launch event in Sydney.

Aboriginal Social and Emotional Wellbeing Award

Red Dust Healing

Red Dust Healing is a specific cultural healing program, written from an Indigenous perspective, targeted at Indigenous men, women and families to address family and community violence, suicide, rejection, addictions, grief and loss, and mental health issues. The program encompasses visual holistic learning modules, linking Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultures, to help participants with their individual insights and the journey of personal growth and wellbeing. By individualising and personalising the program through a series of cultural modules targeted at real issues that affect the lives of the participants, it makes it easier for them to engage in the program.

The Red Dust Healing program has been delivered to over 15,000 people in over 300 communities in Australia and overseas.

Tom Powell is the Founder of the Red Dust Healing Program. Tom is a Warramunga Man from the Wiradjuri Nation in NSW. Tom’s working life began at his father’s earthmoving and road construction business. Following his father’s death, in 1985, Tom continued to operate a grader business, studying community welfare through Dubbo TAFE College at night. In 1995, Tom commenced work with the NSW Department of Juvenile Justice as an Aboriginal Programs Officer, based in Taree, NSW. After 13 years with the Department, Tom left his position in order to deliver Red Dust Healing.

Excellence in Service or Program Delivery Award (Joint Winner)

Connect for Kids

Royal Far West and Murrumbidgee PHN

Connect for Kids is a multi-disciplinary mental health service delivered by Royal Far West’s globally recognised telecare for kids program. The service is helping to connect children aged 0-15 years outside major cities to mental health facilities for behavioural issues, anxiety, conduct and mood disorders, and giving rural and remote areas access to early intervention, affordable and specialised paediatric health services through video technology. The program’s structured, whole-of-child approach works with family and caregivers to assist them in providing better support to the child. The program is funded under the Commonwealth’s Primary Health Networks program (PHN) by South Eastern NSW PHN and Murrumbidgee PHN and covers assessment, therapy and capacity building across psychology, paediatrics, speech and occupational therapy.

Excellence in Service or Program Delivery Award (Joint Winner)

Bright Minds: Connected Communities


Bright Minds, Connected Communities is an extension of a grassroots project/campaign developed by dedicated young people in Lake Macquarie who identified a need for additional support for young people experiencing poor mental health and/or at risk of suicide. Through their hard work and enthusiasm, the project is now funded by the NSW Ministry of Health and involves a three-tiered approach to suicide prevention and intervention.

A Youth Support Pack to provide advocates and workers supporting young people with appropriate information and services available for referral.

Delivery of ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) and SafeTALK (suicide alertness training) workshops to those living with or working with young people.

Delivery of Wellbeing Workshops and Focus Group Education Sessions to students in year 7 and 9 in secondary schools.

Mental Health Promotion and Wellbeing Award

Solace Place at Iluka reserve

Port Stephens Suicide Prevention Network

Port Stephens Suicide Prevention Network is a local initiative funded by donations and created to raise awareness about the impact of suicide on loved ones and to bring our community together to inspire love, hope and remember lives lost. Members have restored a rugged neglected headland, built a seat and memorial plinth and developed walking paths. Each year people are invited to ‘Walk With Us’ in a friendly community environment, to start the conversation about our emotions and fears, and support those who have lost loved ones through a suicide. Port Stephens Suicide Prevention Network also supports suicide prevention training programs from Wesley and Lifeline, provides information about mental health services and are building a labyrinth as a “walking meditation” mindfulness space, to aid people in need of stress and anxiety reduction.

Lived Experience Participation and Leadership Award

Mental Health Recovery Program

Wagga Wagga Mental Health Recovery Unit

The Wagga Wagga Mental Health Recovery Unit provides a free, residential, voluntary program of psycho-education, care and support for people with a mental health issue. Referrals are accepted from any source including GPs, community mental health teams, non-government organisations and the acute mental health service. People can also self-refer. Consumers benefit from a holistic approach that includes interventions on sleep, diet, exercise, communication, relationships and emotional wellbeing. The course includes the core subjects of self-esteem, assertiveness, mental health, healthy eating, distress tolerance, cognitive behavioural therapy, living skills and personal recovery. The multi-disciplinary team includes full time Peer Support Workers who “walk beside” current consumers on their journeys to recovery. Consumers also benefit from graduates of the program who return as volunteers. Consumers are placed at the centre of their own journey through the program; this means they set their own goals, write their own weekly reports and run their own meetings.

Media Award

SBS Punjabi Program

The SBS Punjabi program is broadcast every weeknight from 9-10pm, and enjoys a committed audience on-air and online. It has a significant digital footprint, with over 180,000 people following its Facebook page.

Manpreet Kaur Singh, the Executive Producer, has been with SBS for over 25 years. She is a Walkley-nominated journalist-broadcaster who has highlighted the history, achievements and major issues concerning Australia’s Punjabi community, winning several national and international awards for her investigative reporting.

Preetinder Singh Grewal, the Digital and Audio producer, joined SBS Punjabi in 2013. He is a cancer research scientist who completed a PhD in medicine from UNSW. A very popular broadcaster, he has covered a wide variety of stories pertaining to health and lifestyle, visa and migration, human rights, racism and entertainment.

Mental Health Promotion Workplace Award

RAW Mind Coach

RAW Mind Coach is an online learning program designed to build psychological resilience. This year the evidence-based program was rolled out to more than 5000 workers at NSW Ambulance. Proactive and preventative in nature, RAW Mind Coach performs a vital role in supporting frontline staff, through teaching mindfulness and a range of other essential skills and strategies.

RAW Mind Coach was developed by psychologist Sadhbh Joyce, following research conducted as part of the UNSW Workplace Mental Health Research Team and the Black Dog Institute. RAW Mind Coach includes ten short interactive learning sessions, a selection of guided mindfulness exercises and a large library of resources for ongoing learning. The customisable online program has already been adopted by a number of major employers internationally, helping support workers across a wide range of challenging roles.

NSW Mental Health Commissioner’s Community Champion Award

Thi Minh Tam Nguyen

Thi Minh Tam Nguyen’s first job in Australia was at the Indo-Chinese Women’s Refuge. This work was controversial as it went against traditional values of the Vietnamese community. After some time, Ms Nguyen qualified as an interpreter and began working with Vietnamese people living with mental health difficulties.

Through her work as a bilingual health educator in a mental health inpatient unit, Ms Nguyen runs various activities and teaches communication skills. She also shares the benefits of meditation with her clients. In 2007, Ms Nguyen was one of five Vietnamese health workers to receive a scholarship from South Western Sydney Health promotion to become a Vietnamese Mental Health Instructor. Since then, Ms Nguyen has delivered more than thirty courses for the Vietnamese community with nearly 700 attendees. She finds that even simply talking about mental health helps to break down stigma and misunderstanding of mental llness.

Ms Nguyen is a member of a Vietnamese interagency workers group that meets regularly to brainstorm solutions and projects to meet the needs of the community. Ms Nguyen is currently working on a directory of Vietnamese mental health professionals.