By Poppy Wise | 17 Nov 2016

Associate director Poppy Wise reflects on her time at Mental Health Australia’s Annual Grace Groom Oration in Canberra.

Economic and Social Advisory Director Alison Wallace and I were lucky enough to attend Mental Health Australia’s Annual Grace Groom Oration in Canberra earlier this month.

The annual event is held to honour the contribution of the former CEO of Mental Health Australia (2003-05), who tirelessly worked to get mental health onto the political agenda in Australia, especially through the publication and promotion of two landmark, evidence-based publications. 

We are excited to be working with the Commonwealth Department of Health and Mental Health Australia on the refinement of the Fifth National Mental Health Plan

This year, the oration was delivered by the Hon Jeff Kennett AC, and introduced by the Chair of Mental Health Australia and CEO of the Business Council of Australia, Jennifer Westacott.

Jeff’s oration reflected on his time as Chair of beyondblue, as he prepares to step down after 16 years in June next year.  He also provided his take on the ongoing challenges faced in Australia with regard to addressing mental illness and called for greater collaboration, early intervention and prevention and capacity-building in the sector and the community at large. 

For Alison and I, who have spent years researching and evaluating mental health related programs and services, it was a good opportunity to reflect on some of the progress that has been made in relation to mental health – particularly around starting a national conversation around mental health (via organisations like beyondblue and RUOK? and initiatives such as MentalAs on the ABC) and the process of de-stigmatisation – as well as the significant challenges that remain. 

We are excited to be working with the Commonwealth Department of Health and Mental Health Australia currently on the refinement of the Fifth National Mental Health Plan, a cornerstone of the National Mental Health Strategy, which addresses many of these challenges.

The event was held at the beautiful National Arboretum, built on the site of the 2003 Canberra bushfires – a must see for any visit to Canberra.

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