The 7th Australasian Mental Health Outcomes and Information Conference

Keynote speakers

Nora Bateson

Nora Bateson is an award-winning filmmaker, research designer, writer and educator, as well as President of the International Bateson Institute, based in Sweden. Her work brings the fields of biology, cognition, art, anthropology, psychology, and information technology together into a study of the patterns in ecology of living systems, and asks the question, “How we can improve our perception of the complexity we live within, so we may improve our interaction with the world?”

The International Bateson Institute integrates the sciences, arts and professional knowledge to create a qualitative inquiry of the integration of life. Here, Nora directs research projects that require multiple contexts of research and interdependent processes. Asking, “How we can create a context in which to study the contexts?” An impressive team of international thinkers, scientists and artists have been brought together by the International Bateson Institute to generate an innovative form of inquiry, which Nora coined “Transcontextual Research” and the corresponding new form of information she dubbed: “Warm Data”. A group process created by Nora, called the ‘Warm Data Lab’ has been the public outreach model of this research. Over 100 groups around the world have participated in Warm Data Labs to assist in developing the ability to perceive complexity.  

As an educator, Nora has developed curricula for schools in Northern California and produced and directed award winning multimedia projects on intercultural and ecological understanding. Nora’s speaking engagements include keynote addresses and lectures at international conferences and universities on a wide range of topics that span the fields of anti-fascism, ecology, education, the arts, family therapy, leadership and many more aspects of advocacy for living systems.  

Dr Barbara Disley

Dr Barbara Disley is Chief Executive of Emerge Aotearoa, a large national mental health, and drug and alcohol NGO. Barbara has worked in a number of non-government organisation Chief Executive roles including the Mental Health Foundation and Richmond Fellowship. Barbara was the inaugural chair of the Mental Health Commission, leading the development of the first Mental Health Blueprint. She was Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Education where she had responsibility for special education.

Barbara was a member of the Confidential Listening and Assistance Service, the forum set up for people who had been abused while in State Care in New Zealand, and chaired the Review of the Sensitive Claims area of ACC, which supports victims of abuse. Over the past year Barbara was a member of the Inquiry Panel set up by the Government to review mental health and addictions. In 2011 Barbara was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to mental health.

Dr Ruth Cunningham

Dr Ruth Cunningham is a public health physician and epidemiologist working in the areas of mental health research, social epidemiology, cancer epidemiology and health services research. The main focus of her current work is mental health epidemiology and the physical health of people with experience of mental health conditions.

Ruth is an active member of the Equally Well collaborative and leads the Electronic data for Mental health research (EleMent) group: Te Raraunga Hinengaro. The group uses routinely collected electronic data from health and other sources to understand the distribution and determinants of mental health and mental distress, with a focus is on making the best use of available information to improve the mental health of New Zealanders. In 2018 Ruth was a contributor to the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction, leading the production of a background Stocktake report and a data analysis report to inform the Inquiry panel.

Elida Meadows

Elida has a background in historical research and community development. She is the Tasmanian carer representative on the National Mental Health Consumer and Carer Forum and also represented Tasmanian carers on the Mental Health in Multicultural Australia (MHiMA). 

Elida worked with the Tasmanian Mental Health Drug and Alcohol Directorate on the Rethink Mental Health project. She represents the Forum on several national committees including the Mental Health Information Strategy Standing Committee (MHISSC) and the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Plans Mental Health Expert Reference Panel, and the Fifth PlanTechnical Advisory Group.

Elida has a Masters by Research from UNSW and has conducted research in a number of areas including history and heritage, mental health, alcohol and other drugs, and epilepsy. She currently works in policy and research for the Drug Education Network, Tasmania. Elida is from southern Italian descent and identifies as both a carer and a consumer.

Matthew Iasiello

Matthew Iasiello is a researcher who has worked on large-scale, complex, translational positive mental health projects for the past three years at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), before starting his part time PhD. 

Most recently, Matthew was instrumental in completing a three-year $1.3 million project at SAHMRI designed to deliver resilience skills to 1,400+ at-risk young people from the most disadvantaged areas of South Australia. This project enabled reorientation of crucial services for these young people towards building wellbeing. It has attracted national and international attention (winning a Good Design Australia Award for Social Innovation), and has been presented at local and international academic conferences and in peer-reviewed journals. 

Matthew's research focuses on understanding the relationship between mental illness and mental health, and investigating how this understanding could transform the way that interventions are designed to promote mental health, and prevent and treat mental illness. He has a strong focus on conducting translational research that converts scientific knowledge into real world applications.

Joep van Agteren

Joep van Agteren leads the research team for the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) Wellbeing and Resilience Centre. After graduating with a MSc. in Psychology at Maastricht University, he moved to Australia, after which he worked as a researcher for the public health department in South Australia (SA Health), an eHealth start-up looking at addiction and mental health, and later SAHMRI. 

He oversees over a dozen research and evaluation projects, among others looking at the implementation of mental health and wellbeing training in distinct populations; in the young and old, private and public workforces, and in people with and without mental illness. He mainly focuses on the interplay between mental health and wellbeing, how to assess it, determine what influences it, and how to use evidence-based interventions to improve either or both outcomes.

His work is largely driven by his expertise in evidence synthesis, including meta-analysis (he is a member of the Cochrane collaboration) and behaviour change frameworks, which is used to underpin the intervention design in his projects. A significant proportion of this work looks at the use of technology to compliment and advance existing treatment and assessment methods, in the mental health and wellbeing space. 

Master of Ceremonies, Josiah Tualamali’i

Josiah is a Samoan New Zealander who deeply cares about people in Aotearoa being supported no matter what is going on for them in their lives. With his own lived experience of mental health challenges at 14, Josiah was one of the founders of the Pacific Youth Leadership and Transformation Trust to empower Pacific young people.  

In 2018, while 22 years old, Josiah was a voice for youth and Pacific peoples on the New Zealand Government Inquiry which looked at how to make life better for people with mental health and addiction challenges.

Josiah studied History and Politics at the University of Canterbury and is a member of the Le Va, Rātā Foundation and Psychotherapy boards. He loves lego and collects letters, recently getting one signed by Rt Hon. Helen Clark.