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Indigenous Mental Health Symposium


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’.


Ken Markwell

Executive General Manager – Indigenous Services

Ken’s people are Mununjhali from the Beaudesert region in southeast Queensland. He also has cultural responsibilities for neighbouring Wangerriburra country.

Ken is passionate about creating and driving positive outcomes for his people. Ken has worked in Aboriginal affairs for over 20 years. As a consequence, Ken has developed rich national networks across Australia including regional and remote areas.

Ken commenced with Australian Unity in 2018. The opportunity to be part of an organisation and team that delivers profound impacts on the lives of Elders and vulnerable Aboriginal people is what attracted Ken to the role.


Kelleigh Ryan

Australian Indigenous Psychologist Association Board (AIPA)

Kelleigh is a descendant of the Kabi Kabi people of South-East Queensland and the Australian South Sea Islanders on her mother’s side. Kelleigh is a registered psychologist, working with Indigenous clients from Australia and overseas.

Kelleigh holds a seat on the Australian Indigenous Psychologist Association Board (AIPA) and is one of the founding members of First Peoples of the World Psychology Network. In 2019 Kelleigh was honoured with the Indigenous Allied Health Australia’s “Lifetime Achievement Award” and was the first Aboriginal Psychologist to be appointed as Clinical Assessor on the Psychologist Panel of Assessors for the Queensland Civil Administrative Tribunal.







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