Risk and Resilience

FAMILYRecently, two significant reports that have addressed the mental health and wellbeing of children, young people and families have been released - the National Review of Mental Health Programmes and Services and the second Australian Child and Adolescent Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing. These reports have highlighted the need to do more, the need to work across sectors and the need to get in early to ensure happy and healthy children now as well as happy and healthy adults of the future.

The Hunter Institute of Mental Health recognise that it is an integral time in Australia’s history where we have a great opportunity to make a difference through considered, informed and coordinated change. By bringing together experts from government, health, mental health, community and social services, researchers, policy makers and community leaders to discuss the opportunities and issues facing families and young people in a forum. 

The Hunter Institute of Mental Health in partnership with beyondblue, the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre and the National Health and Medical Research Council Centre of Research Excellence (NHMRC CRE) in Mental Health & Substance Use recently facilitated a full-day cross-sector event. This forum brought together people from government, health, mental health, community and social services, researchers, policy makers and community leaders.

A variety of resources developed for the Risk and Resilience forum event are available below:

Media Release:


Opinion - Croakey:


Opinion - Newcastle Herald:



Eval report imageEvaluation Report:

This report provides a summary of participant responses from the Risk and Resilience forum and Community Forum: Child, Youth and Family Resilience held in Newcastle on Monday 16th November.





Risk and Resilience podcast series

Ian Hickie picProfessor Ian Hickie
Co-Director Brain and Mind Centre, University of Sydney

What is mental fitness?

Professor Ian Hickie’s work for many years has been deeply involved in mental health but often in the context of diagnosis, treatment and management. But, Professor Hickie says now is the time for us all to start practising, and teaching our children, the concepts that support and encourage ‘mental fitness’.

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Screening and the value of early childhood education

Professor Ian Hickie says there are many professionals who work with children and young people who have an immensely valuable contribution to make to the child’s future mental wellbeing. For example, if a teacher has many years of experience in working with teenagers we should be encouraging their involvement in our children’s lives and we should be listening to them as they are often the first to spot potential problems.

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Jane Burns profile pictureAssociate Professor Jane Burns
CEO, Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre

Using technology for good

We are bombarded with messages that ‘tech is bad’ for young people - computer games, smartphones, apps, etc - that these technologies have a negative effect on young minds and development. Associate Professor Jane Burns says the work of the Young and Well CRC not only disputes that claim, but that the use of fast-moving and well-designed technologies can be a very good thing and assist in the encouragement and support of mental wellbeing.

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Whose responsibility is it to change the mental health focus from illness to wellness?

If changing the focus of mental health from one of trying to fix problems after they occur to one of preventing them from occurring in the first place - how do we do this? Associate Professor Jane Burns says there is an increasing amount of research that shows that good mental wellness practices can reduce stress and anxiety, reduce the incidence of depression, and ultimately keep people mentally well and productive.

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John Feneley picCommissioner John Feneley
Mental Health Commission New South Wales 

Current state of play and challenges

NSW Mental Health Commissioner John Feneley outlines the current state of resourcing and models of care for mental health and their future viability.

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Local advocacy and accountability to drive local services

Commissioner John Feneley says the power of having services operated and provided locally is in improved advocacy and accountability. Australia’s geographic vastness means that, outside major cities, no two locations are likely to require exactly the same services or service models. 

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MCG picDr Michael Carr-Gregg

Managing Director, Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre 

Looking for the evidence that using apps for mental wellbeing is effective

Dr Michael Carr-Gregg explains that the Young and Well CRC has been researching the ‘tens of thousands’ of wellbeing apps that are currently available to review those which are evidence-based.

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Using apps to support mental wellbeing in young people

Dr Michael Carr-Gregg says if you think young people are having their brains turned to mush by computers and the online environment, that "you’re buying into the tabloid moral panic about apps, technology and video games."

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Megan Mitchell pic 

Megan Mitchell

National Children's Commissioner, Australian Human Rights Commission

Megan Mitchell is Australia's first National Children's Commissioner and talks about her role in ensuring the rights of children and young people are understood and shared equitably, regardless of circumstances.

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Dr Lesley

Dr Lesley van Schoubroeck

Commissioner, QLD Mental Health Commission

How do we deliver services across a nation as vast as Australia?

Dr Lesley van Schoubroeck says it’s very difficult however local organisations in rural and remote areas can do very well if they’re ‘allowed’ to and are given that local level of autonomy.

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Dr Lesley van Schoubroeck says we as individuals and communities need to hold our Governments and providers accountable. 

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georgie squareGeorgie Harman

CEO, beyondblue

Georgie Harman says that while national progress has been steady, beyondblue and other organisations have been calling for greater attention and investments in time, energy, effort and research in the younger years.

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Georgie Harman outlines the focus of the KidsMatter program in educating early childhood workers and reaching out to parents and families about the importance of mental health, resilience and wellbeing.

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Robyn Mildon

Centre for Child Wellbeing, Save the Children Australia

Robyn Mildon explains the focus of the Centre for Child Wellbeing and talks about the importance of sharing high quality information that makes sense to parents and families in supporting children and young people.

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Samantha Page picSamantha Page

CEO, Early Childhood Australia

Do we undervalue the importance of the role of early childhood education?

Samantha Page explains that we need to insist on and ensure that all early chilhood learning environments are of the highest quality and highlights the importance of getting the 'social contract' right between private and public education centres.

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Ross BeatonRoss Beaton

NSW Convenor, Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth

Ross Beaton notes that we see ourselves in Australia as world-leaders, as a rich and healthy first-world nation, but explains we are being outpaced by other OECD nations in certain areas of care.

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Risk and Resilience Forum from HInstMH on Vimeo.

Child Illness Resilience Program: Summary of outcomes from Hunter Institute of Mental Health

For further details about the Risk and Resilience forum event, please visit our past event webpage.