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Indigenous Mental Health Symposium


26 October 2021

1:00pm - 3:00pm (AEDT)

Virtual on Zoom and Facebook Live


Recent research has highlighted that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people suffer from significantly higher mental health needs than other Australians and experience psychological distress at around THREE times the rateof the non-Indigenous population.31% of Indigenous Australian adults reported ‘high or very high’ levels of psychological distress in 2018 –19, which increased from 27% in 2004 -2005.

Mental Health Foundation Australia is firmly committed to promote the mental wellbeing of people from all sectors of the community including the Indigenous population. In order to initiate change, the foundation as a part of the National Mental Health Month is organising the Indigenous Mental Health Symposium on the 26thof October 2021, Virtually from1:00 pm –3:00 pm.

This forum will address the gap currently prevalent in the services available for the Indigenous population and what ways mental health policy makers and mental health services can work to bridge the gap, ultimately to promote the mental health and wellbeing of the Aboriginal and Torres islanders.





Lil Gordon   Head Aboriginal Affairs, NSW

Ms Gordon is a proud NGIYAMPAA Ngemba woman and has spent her life advocating for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities. She is the Head of Aboriginal Affairs, in New South Wales. Ms. Gordon  is a strong, determined Aboriginal woman committed to growing and empowering Aboriginal communities. She has over 30 years of experience working in education and alongside Aboriginal communities. 

Ms. Gordon's passion is working alongside our communities in empowering Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people to create their own destiny, to provide those opportunities to give us the best chance to be the very best we can with whatever we choose to do.  Aboriginal education and training has been her main field along with effective and balanced leadership as well as building the understanding and capacity with non-Aboriginal people to recognise their potential in the ‘bigger picture’.



Jenna Roberts   Deputy Commissioner, Mental Health Commission of NSW

Jenna Roberts is a Deputy Commissioner for the Mental Health Commission of NSW. Jenna has worked in a variety of mental health settings and is passionate about working with communities to promote person centred initiatives which focus on wellbeing. Ms Roberts began her career in mental health at a drug and alcohol recovery centre, where many participants were dealing with complex personal and health issues.

Jenna’s previous roles include CEO of Tend Riverina, Suicide Prevention Manager at Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network, working with NSW Health at InforMH, developing and implementing the Your Experience of Service (YES) measure across all 18 Local Health Districts (LHDs) and Speciality Health Networks (SHNs) within NSW, as well as the continuing the development of the consumer participation and peer support program at St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney. Jenna has a strong interest in policy development and systemic change of mental health service delivery. Jenna currently works as Service Manager for Stride Mental Health as well as taking on consulting roles across Australia in the mental health, AOD and suicide prevention fields. Jenna brings with her a range of diverse personal experiences that will support her role as Deputy Commissioner, saying “My great grandmother grew up on Palm Island near Townsville as part of the stolen generation, raised to deny her heritage. I am also a gay woman and I recognise the importance of addressing the needs of the LGBTI+ community, including stigma and discrimination, and advocating for interventions which aim to reduce preventable mental health disparities which many of us continue to experience. I am committed to supporting individual recovery, connection with community and empowering others to lead positive lives, embracing who they are”.




Professor Peter Barlis   Director, Mental Health Foundation Australia

Peter is an internationally-recognised Interventional Cardiologist with the Northern and St Vincent’s Hospitals in Victoria and Professor of Medicine with the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry & Health Sciences, the University of Melbourne. After graduating from the University of Melbourne, he completed cardiology training at Austin Health followed by a Master of Public Health with Monash University. In 2006, he secured a fellowship and scholarship at the prestigious Royal Brompton Hospital, London and then completed his PhD at the Thoraxcentre, Erasmus University the Netherlands, on the use of optical coherence tomography (OCT) in cardiology. OCT harnesses the properties of infrared light to look inside blood vessels in ultra-high resolution. Peter has since overseen OCT’s uptake across the region with over sixty centres in Australia and New Zealand benefiting from his foresight.

He is internationally renowned for his interventional and imaging academic output, and early development programs for novel therapies in cardiovascular disease. He has maintained connections all over the globe, and continues to attract industry support for his research. He runs an active research group in biomedical engineering focused on coronary imaging and computational modeling with an interest in the development of innovative cardiovascular technologies.




Bruce Wong   CEO, Foot Solutions

Bruce was raised in a traditional Chinese family with a very strong emphasis on cultural principles in harmony, honesty, respect, honour, benevolence, righteousness, hard-working and filial piety. He received his early education at a French Catholic Jesuit Mission school in Cambodia. He is a renowned business entrepreneur in the Australian Asian community and holds a successful record of 35 years in the business world with companies he founded and helmed in Australia, America and around South East Asia.

As Managing Director of the Foot Solutions Group Australia and America, Bruce and his family has time remembered how Australia has blessed them and today they are strong advocates of the Australia way of life and its values. His latest community endeavour is the Mental Health Foundation Australia’s “Meals to the Community Covid-19 Project” launched in August 2020. He is one of the key founders of the project. Through his financial contribution of a new refrigerated food delivery truck, MHFA’s is able to roll out its weekly cooked meals for distribution to needy communities in partnership with the Department of Health & Human Services and The Salvation Army in Victoria. Bruce continues to fund the MHFA’s meals project with regular weekly donation of cooking items and other essentials. To date, MHFA has delivered over 60,000 prepared meal boxes to the Covid-19 communities in need.      



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Mental Health Foundation Australia acknowledges the traditional owners of the land and waters of Australia