Minds Matter Conference


We offer our thanks to all the speakers and delegates, Aanuka Resort and others who contributed to a successful conference!  Please view the conference outcomes, the guest speakers and quotes from the conference evaluations.

2015 publication outcomes.

Archival reference only

Aanuka Resort, Coffs Harbour, NSW

3 – 5 April 2014 

Aanuka Resort 

This conference will bring together academic researchers, policy makers, practitioners, service providers, and non-government organizations to consider and discuss Mental Health issues confronting rural and regional Australia.

This conference has a triple focus:

  • to share knowledge amongst attendees with different professional backgrounds and concerns, but a shared interest in the future of rural and regional Australia
  • to engage in critical analysis of issues and problems
  • to develop practical strategies for delivering greater research and results for rural and regional communities.

It is expected that speakers will cover a wide range of issues from diverse perspectives and will include papers from both science and social science approaches. There is a particular interest in applied research, and the final day of the program will showcase applied research in a dedicated forum.

The conference organising committee encourages Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander presenters and those working with Indigenous communities to submit papers for presentation across all theme areas.

Download the full conference program.


The following key themes have been identified on which papers are invited but submissions from other areas are also most welcome!

Theme A: Self-care and mental health within regional communities

A1: Disability – Addressing rural individuals, families and carers, health and socio-economic problems associated with disabilities across the lifespan

A2: Suicide – Explorations of the suicide trajectory in rural communities through prevention, intervention and postvention following a suicide death across the lifespan.

A3: Resilience – Mapping mental health resilience, self care and social capital, including challenges and vulnerabilities in relation to regional, rural and remote communities.

A4: Workforce – Challenges and opportunities for rural mental health workforces.

Theme B: Sexuality, identity and mental health impacts on well-being and inclusion

B1: Educating specific social groups (including young people, the elderly, Indigenous people) in rural regions about relationships between sexual health, and identity and mental health and well-being

B2: Addressing barriers to successful delivery of best practice sexual and reproductive health and mental health services in rural regions

B3: How to achieve inclusive communities to reduce risks of suicide and poor mental health for people of sexual diversity

B4: Better understanding the relationship between sexuality, mental health and rurality

Theme C: Biomedical science to support rural mental health

C1: Mental health and well-being

C2: Biomarker development

Conference Dinner Keynote Speaker - Friday, 4th April

Dr Norman Swan, producer and presenter on ABC Radio National and ABC Television

Keynote Speakers

Associate Professor Jane Burns

Associate Professor Jane Burns

Associate Professor Jane Burns
Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre

Associate Professor Jane Burns is the Chief Executive Officer of the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre.  The establishment of the Young and Well CRC is a culmination of Jane's work in suicide and depression prevention over the last decade which has focused on international and national partnerships with academic, government, corporate, philanthropic, not-for-profit and community sectors.

Jane holds a VicHealth Principal Research Fellowship at Orygen Youth Health Research Centre, Centre for Youth Mental Health at the University of Melbourne and an Honorary Fellowship at the Brain & Mind Research Institute, University of Sydney.  She was a Commonwealth Fund Harkness Fellow in 2004–2005 at the University of California, San Francisco. She joined beyondblue: the national depression initiative in its start up phase and established and managed the youth agenda. Jane completed her PhD in Medicine (Psychiatry and Epidemiology) at the University of Adelaide.

Jane was a Victorian Finalist in the 2012 Telstra Business Women's Awards and was listed in the Financial Review and Westpac Group 100 Women of Influence in 2012.

Dr Tom Calma

Tom Calma

Dr Tom Calma
Australian National University Speaker

National Centre for Indigenous Studies (NCIS)

Dr Tom Calma was appointed as an Adjunct Associate Professor at NCIS in May 2012. He brings extensive experience to NCIS, particularly in Indigenous education and human rights in which he has been involved at the local, community, state, territory, national and international level for the past 38 years. Dr Calma, an elder from the Kungarakan and Iwaidja tribal groups from the south-west Darwin region and the Coburg Peninsula in Northern Territory, has campaigned for health, social justice, inclusion and equality issues, about which he feels strongly. He has been involved in and with the tertiary education sector since 1980 as an academic. Dr Calma has represented Australia's interest in higher education internationally, on research grants, in reviewing administrative and academic structures and on advisory boards, and committees at eight universities.

Professor Matthew Janicki

Matthew Janicki Professor Matthew Janicki
UNE Adjunct Professor

Matthew P. Janicki, Ph.D. is research Associate Professor in the Department of Disability and Human Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and serves as director for technical assistance for the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center in Aging with Developmental Disabilities–Lifespan Health and Function at the University. He is also an adjunct Professor in the School of Rural Medicine at the University of New England, Armidale.

Dr. Janicki was a Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation's Public Policy Leadership Fellow, spending a sabbatical year at the National Institute on Aging and the United States Senate. He is the author/editor of numerous books and articles in the area of aging, dementia, public policy, and rehabilitation with regard to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and has lectured and provided training in aging and intellectual disabilities around the world. He is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Gerontological Society of America. Dr. Janicki served as the chair of the United States International Council on Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities and as the founding chair of the Aging Special Interest Research Group for IASSID. Currently he serves as of the executive officers of the International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual Disabilities (IASSID) and is the editor-in-chief of IASSID's Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities.

Research Interests

Prof Janicki's research interests include epidemiology and demographics, Alzheimer's disease and people with intellectual disabilities, community dementia support services, and aging correlates in people with various etiologies of intellectual disability and associated conditions.

Janet Meagher AM

Janet Meagher AM

Janet Meagher AM
National Mental Health Commission

A teacher and librarian by profession, Janet Meagher has been a mental health consumer activist and advocate for over 30 years. Having lived with schizophrenia since the early 1970's Janet would like to see an inclusionary and respectful world for people living with mental health problems and disorders.

Janet Meagher is an author, lecturer and leader. A former secretary of the World Federation for Mental Health and is a founding member and patron of several mental health consumer organizations.

Ms Meagher has extensive and broad experience at national level during the past 20+ years and has been an international consumer leader.

Ms Meagher has a personal commitment to genuine consumer/carer participation and partnership, i.e. not ever being satisfied with a compromised or diluted consumer/ carer voice and holds strong ethical and informed views and remains linked firmly to a range of consumer constituencies who constantly educate and update her on their issues and opinions.

Professor David Plummer AM

David Plummer

Professor David Plummer AM
James Cook University

Professor David Plummer is a medical graduate and has a PhD in health sociology from the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at the Australian National University for research which explored the sociology of masculinity and health. He is currently Professorial Research Fellow in Health Practitioner Research at the James Cook University in Queensland and Adjunct Professor in Health Promotion at the University of Texas, Houston.

David has worked at the Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam and in the recent past he has held a Commonwealth & UNESCO Chair at the University of the West Indies (UWI) where he established a Masters in Health Promotion and he undertook research on the influence of gender on health promotion. During his time as the UWI UNESCO Chair, he developed and led the Caribbean Masculinities Research Projects 1 & 2 where he researched masculinity and health in 8 countries in the Caribbean and South America. He has a special interest in the sociology of masculinity and in the taboos and obligations which the achievement of manhood frequently entails and which profoundly affect the passage of boys to men.

Professor Perminder Sachdev

Perminder Sachdev Professor Perminder Sachdev
University of New South Wales (UNSW)

Current positions: Professor of Neuropsychiatry, University of New South Wales 1999- & Clinical Director, Neuropsychiatric Institute, The Prince of Wales Hospitals 1987-.

Professional roles: President, International Neuropsychiatric Association (INA) (2004-06); President-elect, INA, 2002-04);  Convenor, Neuropsychiatry Interest Group of Australia (1997-); Convenor, Brain and Ageing Program, UNSW; Medical Adviser and Founding Executive Member of Tourette Syndrome Association of Australia (1989-2002); Founding Member, International College of Geriatric Psychopharmacology; Treasurer, Aust Consortium of Centres for Clinical Cognitive Research (1997-2001); Convenor, Biennial Congress of the International Neuropsychiatric Association, Sydney 2006; Vice-President of the Indo-Australasian Psychiatry Association 2004-06; Member of many professional societies and committees and editorial boards of journals. Referee for many international journals.

Professor Sachdev's research is in the areas of Vascular dementia, Alzheimer's disease, Dementia of Lewy Body type and other dementias, Neuropsychiatric aspects of dementia, including Depression; Treatment of resistant psychiatric disorders with Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, Vagus Nerve Stimulation and Neurosurgery; Drug-induced movement disorders (akathisia, tardive dyskinesia, NMS); Neuroimaging; Tourette's syndrome, Adult ADHD. Professor Sachdev was awarded the Senior Research prize of the RANZCP in 1995 for most outstanding psychiatric research by an Aust or NZ psychiatrist in the preceding 2 years, and the Novartis oration of the ASPR in 2004.  Perminder currently supervises 6 doctoral students, 2 Master's students, and co-supervises 5 doctoral students.  He also currently holds one NHMRC project grant, one NHMRC Equipment Grant, and two unrestricted grants from Eli Lilly and is the CI-A on a Program Grant (Sachdev/Brodaty/Andrews) recently awarded by the NH&MRC (2005-2009) for $4.6 million for the investigation of neurocognitive disorders in the elderly.

Associate Professor Anthony Shakeshaft

Anthony Shakeshaft Associate Professor Anthony Shakeshaft
National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre - UNSW Medicine

Associate Professor Anthony Shakeshaft's Principal research interests are in community-wide interventions, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, and measuring and evaluating the effectiveness of interventions aimed at reducing alcohol and other drug use problems.  His previous research has examined the cost-effectiveness of brief interventions, the use of patient driven computers for anxiety and depression in primary care, in both the U.K. and Canada, and improving the appropriateness of red blood cell transfusions in metropolitan hospitals.  His current research includes leading the largest community-action alcohol trial ever under-taken internationally, examining the cost-effectiveness of screening and brief intervention in a number of settings, including an RCT to evaluate a novel method of delivering brief intervention through emergency departments, and evaluating a family-based intervention for Aboriginal Australians in rural NSW.


This conference was supported through the Australian Government's Collaborative Research Network's (CRN) program.