CEO Update from Mental Health Australia: Matt Berriman will bring youth, vision and lived experience to the role of Chair

Black and white headshot of Matt Berriman.

What a week it’s been, and next week will only get better for Mental Health Australia. For those who missed it, on Wednesday we announced that Mr Matt Berriman will take over from Ms Robyn Kruk AO as the new Chair of Mental Health Australia following the Annual General Meeting on Wednesday 8 December in Canberra.

At 37, Matt will be our youngest Chair in the 24-year history of the organisation and as a leading technology entrepreneur and corporate advisor, will bring with him a wealth of experience, vision and drive.

Having met with Matt half a dozen times or so over the last couple of months, his passion to contribute to the entire mental health ecosystem stands out. With more than 15 years’ experience in start-up businesses as a founder, executive and investor Matt has advised some of Australia’s largest corporate organisations, including NewsCorp and Commonwealth Bank. His acumen will be a great addition to our already extremely experienced Board.

Matt first spoke publically about his mental ill health when he announced his bipolar disorder diagnosis in 2018. On behalf of the staff, and our member organisations, we warmly welcome you to the Mental Health Australia family. We’re all looking forward to working with you to achieve our vision of mentally healthy people, and mentally healthy communities. And I am personally very excited to have the opportunity to work with you.

In welcoming Matt, we will also be farewelling Robyn Kruk who, as you all know, has been a huge driving force for our mental health ecosystem for many years, including the last six on the Board at Mental Health Australia, and two as Chair.

Personally, I would like to thank Robyn for her mentorship over the last 20 months in my time as CEO at Mental Health Australia, and to honour and acknowledge her role and drive in keeping the mental health sector, and particularly people living with mental illness, at the heart of our work together. She has never wavered in her commitment to our mental health ecosystem and the work that people do every day to make lives better.

Next week at our AGM and the Grace Groom Memorial Oration we will also have the fitting opportunity to honour Robyn and thank her for her remarkable commitment and dedication to mental health reform in Australia, and for those who are able to join us in person we are all looking forward to catching up to celebrate the year, and look ahead to 2022 with the passion that Robyn’s legacy will leave behind.

Thank you Robyn, welcome Matt, and have a good weekend everyone.

Dr Leanne Beagley

A message from our incoming Chair Mr Matt Berriman

It’s with huge pride and a great sense of responsibility that I accept the role of Chair of Mental Health Australia, the national, non-government peak body that represents and promotes the interests of the Australian mental health sector and commits to achieving better mental health for all Australians.

Considering where I’ve come from in recent years, it truly is humbling to have this ever so important post presented to me. I’m pleased to now have the health, strength and capacity to lead the sector and its members, as I continue to work through my own mental ill health, which was first diagnosed in early-2018.

Chairing Mental Health Australia provides an opportunity to work with talented and committed people to help shape a complex and challenging system.

I look forward to working with our members, people with lived experience, other mental health not-for-profits, governments, businesses (big and small), media and, most importantly, the community, to help improve support now but also ensure an even better future for generations to come.

COVID-19 has created an inflection point for our sector and the mental health of Australians is the new, and somewhat hidden pandemic. As an entrepreneur, solving problems is in my DNA and there is no larger problem facing Australians at the moment than our mental health. There is a need for change that drives innovation and the establishment of solutions that will enable better support for current and future generations.

Thank you to the amazing outgoing Chair Ms Robyn Kruk AO, who finishes her role next week and to the entire Board (past and present) of Mental Health Australia for their tireless efforts and giving me their unwavering support to take the baton. I look forward to leading this new chapter at such a critical time for our great country.

National Mental Health Consumer and Carer Forum (NMHCCF) and the National PHN Mental Health Lived Experience Engagement Network (MHLEEN) partner with Yale University to run a transformational leadership development program

The NMHCCF and MHLEEN, through their jointly funded Leadership Program, are partnering with the Yale University Program for Recovery and Community Health (PRCH) to support up to 15 emerging leaders with a lived experience of recovery of mental health to participate in the LET(s)LEAD Academy, a transformational leadership development program. Candidates will have personal lived experience of mental health distress and recovery and are making positive changes in their community or sector or be interested in transformational change.

The virtual course, facilitated by instructors from PRCH, Department of School of Medicine, Yale and guest facilitators throughout Australia, will run from February 2022 – November 2022. The first phase of the course consists of 10-weekly online seminars that cover concepts such as developing a personal vision, transformational change, appreciative inquiry, strategy, and change management.

In the second phase of the course, participants will be matched with the mentorship of a community leader nationally or internationally according to a self-chosen piece of work contributing to the lived experience sector. It is intended that after course completion, participants will provide lived experience transformational leadership within their organisation and within the mental health Lived Experience (Peer) workforce sector within Australia.

Further information and applications forms are available via the NMHCCF website or here.


On Monday I have further individual meetings booked with members to hear about how the year has gone and their thinking for 2022. 
I will be sharing an aggregated synthesis of these conversations at our members policy forum on Thursday.

On Tuesday we have our regular monthly meeting with Mark Roddam and the team at the Department of Health and in the afternoon I have the Carer Policy Forum Meeting (at Carers Australia). Later we have a welcome meeting with our amazing new Embrace Multicultural Mental Health consumer and carer group constituted for the next phase of the project.

Wednesday is our big day – with a Board meeting, the Annual General Meeting and then our dinner at the National Gallery in Canberra with Julia Gillard delivering the Grace Groom Oration and a panel of experts following the speech. Importantly we will welcome Matt Berriman and we will farewell Robyn Kruk.

On Thursday we are looking forward to our Members Policy Forum where members will hear from Assistant Minister David Coleman, Shadow Health Minister Mark Butler and Shadow Mental Health Minister Emma McBride as well as catch up with each other online or in-person and spend some time thinking about what’s top of mind for 2022 as we head into an election year.

On Friday our team will have our last staff gathering together for the year to celebrate much achieved and to farewell Lachlan Searle. He and his family are heading to work overseas and he leaves us having made the most remarkable contribution in our communications, stakeholder and Embrace programs. 


Member Benefits, Jobs and Profiles

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Mental Health Australia members are invited to send us news, announcements, job vacancies, events or other notices for inclusion in the Weekly CEO Update newsletter. To do so, simply fill out this form by COB each Wednesday for your notice to appear in the newsletter the following Friday.

Member Profiles


QCMHR logo

Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research
Established in 1987, the Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research (QCMHR) is Queensland’s premier mental health research facility. Based at The Park Centre for Mental Health at Wacol, QCMHR is hosted by the West Moreton Hospital and Health Service and has close links with The University of Queensland’s Queensland Brain Institute and School of Public Health, the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, and Brisbane Diamantina Health Partners. The work conducted at QCMHR aims to reduce the level of disability associated with mental illness. This is achieved by providing internationally recognised research that leads to more effective mental health services and interventions, the identification and reduction of risk factors, and the development of researchers in the field of mental health.

Junaya Family Development Services logo

Junaya Family Development Services
Junaya is a Community Based Family Support organisation for families with children 0 - 18 years old. JFDS runs a specialist project which supports families with children or young people experiencing learning difficulties and/ or challenging behaviours within the Blacktown LGA. We also offer Family Development Programs for the broader Western Sydney area that provide empowering, effective, efficient, and potentially transforming strategies, tips and resources which families can use to make positive change in their lives.


Embrace Multicultural Mental Health News

COVID-19 Vaccines booster doses

ATAGI recommends that people aged 18 years and over receive a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine six months after they complete their initial two-dose course. Receiving a booster dose will maintain individuals’ protection against COVID-19. Booster doses will be free and available to everyone in Australia aged 18 years and over. Getting a booster dose is not mandatory but it is recommended to maintain immunity against COVID-19. More information about booster doses, including which vaccine is being used for booster doses, is available on the Department of Health websiteTranslated resources are available here.

Embrace Australia logo (a rectangle with a light and dark purple cultural stripe pattern with "embrace" and stylised outline of the Australian continent in the lower right corner).


Mental Health News

Australian-first Suicide Prevention Law passes Parliament (SA)

Nation-leading legislation on suicide prevention has passed the South Australian Parliament, building on the Marshall Liberal Government’s strong record on suicide prevention. The Suicide Prevention Bill, which is the first of its kind in an Australian jurisdiction, establishes a Suicide Prevention Council as a statutory body and builds on the work of the Premier’s Council on Suicide Prevention. Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said he was proud to be part of a Government that has introduced and passed legislation that will help take our suicide prevention efforts to the next level.

Read more

Empowering employers to embed Lived Experience in mental health & suicide prevention workforce 

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, and Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, David Coleman, say the Morrison Government is embedding the role of lived experience within the mental health system and suicide prevention system, with the launch today of Australia’s first national guidelines for a lived experience workforce. The National Mental Health Commission has released the National Lived Experience (Peer) Workforce Development Guidelines, which contains the principles, values and roles of the lived experience workforce, together with detailed steps for employers to help them plan and embed lived experience into their core business. Led by the Peer Workforce Steering Committee, the guidelines are the result of an extensive consultation and co-design process with almost 800 stakeholders.

Read more

South Australian Social Workers the first in Australia to be registered (SA)

The Social Workers Registration Bill 2021 passed South Australia’s lower house, the House of Assembly late Tuesday 30 November. It will go to the upper house today for final approval, and come into effect after it is given Royal Assent by the Governor of South Australia, Her Excellency the Honourable Frances Adamson AC. AASW CEO Cindy Smith said the Association has been lobbying for the professional registration of social work for more than 50 years and Australia is the only comparable jurisdiction internationally without registration.

Read more

Butterfly Launches COVID Help Hub & Eating Disorder Literature Review

The literature review was commissioned by Butterfly and co-authored by Butterfly’s Clinical Director Dr. Ranjani Utpala in conjunction with Dr Gemma Sharp and Courtney McLean. Key findings were that: People living with diagnosed eating disorders, along with children and adolescents, were at highest risk of relapsing into eating disorders during the pandemic; Eating disorder behaviours are being used to self-manage heightened psychological distress associated with the pandemic; Disordered eating increased among the general population during the pandemic, with a significant increase in binge eating behaviours, suggesting that binge eating may have played a large role in coping during this time. Responding to the study findings and in response to impacts of COVID-19, Butterfly have also launched their COVID Help Hub, supported by funding from the Federal Government. 

Read more



Study into barriers to NDIA Access for people living with Psychosocial Disability

The University of Sydney is conducting a study about the NDIS and trying to understand what stops or makes it difficult for some people, to apply for the psychosocial disability stream of the NDIS. Those with lived experience of mental ill-health and have not been able to or have chosen not to apply for the NDIS, friends or family members and advocacy or service organisations aware of some reasons why people with mental ill-health or psychosocial disability haven’t applied for the NDIS are welcome to participate in the survey.

Consultation - National Initial Assessment and Referral for Mental Healthcare for children and adolescents

The Australian Government Department of Health has released draft ‘Lift Outs’ and Decision Support Tool for GPs and Allied Health practitioners assessing children and adolescents with mental health needs. These resources complement the Initial Assessment and Referral tool developed to assess adults. The Department is seeking feedback on these draft resources by 14 December 2021, for more information see the Consultation Hub.

Series on industry-led initiatives supporting mentally healthy workplaces

The series on industry initiatives supporting mentally healthy workplaces showcases current industry-level approaches and provides a practical guide for setting up industry-led initiatives. This three-part series aims to support individuals or groups seeking to lead change in their industry to support mentally healthy workplaces. It has been developed by the National Workplace Initiative after research and consultation highlighted the value of industry-led initiatives.

COVID-19 vaccination dashboard now available for consumers in My Health Record

This release includes a new COVID-19 vaccination dashboard for consumers. This brings together, in one place, information from the Australian Immunisation Register and My Health Record related to a consumer’s COVID-19 vaccination journey. The dashboard includes vaccination details, COVID-19 test results, relevant medicines and allergy information from My Health Record and links to the COVID-19 vaccine clinic finder and side effect checker. The webpage, Your COVID-19 information in one place provides more information.

COVID-19 vaccination resources

Please see below links to Easy Read COVID-19 vaccination resources now available: Fact sheet about the third dose; Fact sheet about booster doses; The difference between the third dose and a booster dose; COVID-19 vaccination consent form. These resources can also be accessed alongside other COVID-19 vaccination Easy Read resources. Please also see links to a video produced by the Council for Intellectual Disability, in partnership with the Department of Health, around COVID Vaccination Stories on YouTube and Facebook.

COVID-19 Vaccine Provider Alert - 1 December 2021

The Department of Health has issued its next COVID-19 vaccination – Disability Provider Alert 1 December 2021. In this update you will find a new easy read consent form, easy reads about booster and third doses, booster in-reach rollout, and current vaccination hubs. This provider alert along with other resources and information about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout is available from a dedicated web page for disability service providers on the Department of Health website.

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