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After being officially welcomed to Wurundjeri Country our keynote speaker Dr Robin Youngson guided us on a journey of self exploration and discovery based on his extraordinary work as part of Hearts in Healthcare. 

Keynote address

Mental heaIth issues tear at the fabric of our lives and our communities: Compassion is the great healer.


Robin’s presentation drew on his work with the Hearts in Healthcare movement, and prosecuted the case for rehumanising the healthcare system and advocating for change that supported compassionate relationship building and service delivery.

His talk drew from his anecdotal experiences as a father and anaesthetist as well as from a wealth of academic and medical research that demonstrated a more holistic approach to care that addressed a patients emotional needs consistently produced better outcomes for patients, carers and staff.


More information about Robin's address and other publications can be found here.  

Our first workshop session was a small group discussion and reflection on the topic:

Compassion is the glue that binds us all together, no matter our role.

This session explored the meaning of compassion from multiple perspectives, to find common ground for a system-wide approach to support healing and recovery. Participants reflected on their own professional and personal experience within the mental health system to explore instances where compassionate care made a difference in a patients' or carers' experience.

This was followed by a plenary workshop:

Caring with our hearts as well as our heads.

Lead by Robin and Meredith Youngson, this workshop session used a powerful process to draw out the compassion and wisdom in the room by uncovering and sharing stories of transformation and healing. It creates a deep bond of shared commitment and informs our strategies for positive change.

These three sessions are sponsored by Wellways.


Afternoon workshops


Workshop A

Who cares for the carers in the post NDIS world. Sponsored by WellWays

The NDIS expert panel was titled Who Will Care for the Carers in a post NDIS transition world.
A broad representation of the sector was present in the panel, VICserv as a policy body, North Area Mental Health service as a provider, North West Primary Health Network, The Brotherhood of St Lawrence as one of the LACs and WellWays as a service and planning provider.

From a policy perspective, concerns were highlighted on the retreat of the MHCSS and the vacuum this leaves in the psychosocial rehabilitation space – further with the phasing out of PIR/PHaMs/D2DL. The potential for PHNs to enter this space was explored but it is as far as we are aware not a given that they’re involvement in that space will be stepping up.

NAMHS presented on their progress in involving family, friends and carers in the formulating NDIS plans and in a clinical mental health setting and presented resources that they distribute to assist a patients support network make informed decisions as to their ongoing care. ‘
The Brotherhood of St Lawrence walked the audience through the LAC, planning and review process for creating an NDIS plan – they also made mention of their efforts to involve the support network of any NDIS participants in the planning process should they have any.

WellWays panelists from the Geelong site reflected on theirs and carers experience of the NDIS and the planning process. Feedback from their clients was varied. Carer respite was a mixed bag, the most effective form of carer respite emerging was ‘respite by association’ – meaning respite that occurred off of a client’s involvement in an external service or community integration program. Indeed it was regarded as more effective and satisfying to those caring for a client then the traditional carer respite program. However this did not always extend to provide any respite for mental health carers seeking socially inclusive respite. This effectively reveals a part of the gap between the Mental Health sector and the NDIS. Concerns were also raised by audience members as to the lack of services available to carers when participants were not eligible for or refused to participate in the NDIS.

North Western Primary Health Network presented on their organizations work around the suicide prevention framework and their ongoing work engagment with GPs to educate them as to the benefits of involving support networks of patients. Closing on a call to continue the importance of advocacy for patients/clients by those who care for them as they assisted in their efforts better illustrate the point to those whose practices they're seeking to change.

Workshop B

A place to call home: Housing and mental health. Sponsored by Mind Australia.