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Special message from the new SPA Board Chair

Special message from the new SPA Board Chair

National Conference – new leadership brings change

As you know, I was recently appointed Chair of the Board and I’m thrilled to be part of the next phase in the history of SPA. It’s an exciting time that’s for sure.

This new phase includes plans to expand the State Committees which so far have proven to be a resounding success; a strategic plan to ramp up policy thought-leadership; lots more work on the Suicide Prevention Research Fund and the continuing development of a quality improvement program for the sector (The Hub); as well as big plans to showcase World Suicide Prevention Day in September in a very different way.

Our ambitions don’t stop there; this year’s National Suicide Prevention Conference is set to be like no other. The Conference program will be a powerhouse of collective thinking and thought-leadership. The Plenary sessions will showcase ideas from international and Australian speakers; a vibrant and thought-provoking policy forum; learnings from the national suicide prevention trial sites; and a keynote panel discussion hosted by Australian television and radio personality Gus Worland.

I’m also excited to reveal that former Prime Minister, The Hon. Julia Gillard AC will give the Diego de Leo Opening Address. The Diego De Leo Address marks the significant contribution made by Professor Diego De Leo to suicide prevention in Australia and internationally. Each year, it is delivered by someone who has exhibited leadership and commitment to advancing the cause of suicide prevention. Ms Gillard’s personal journey and commitment not just to mental health, but to suicide prevention, is profound. Her understanding of the interaction between a person’s circumstances, economically, socially and culturally; and their ability to navigate life’s challenges will bring a unique perspective to the fore.

The line-up of keynote speakers is definitely a big drawcard this year. Firstly, Dr Eduardo Vega, CEO & Founder of Humannovations is a thought leader in mental health, suicide prevention, human rights, and lived experience/peer-led services and research. For over twenty-five years, he has worked in transformative mental health programs. In addition, we are grateful to have Dr Alys Cole-King take the stage at the Conference. She is the first person from the UK to be awarded the Ringel Service Award from the International Association for Suicide Prevention. Dr Cole-King was named one of the most influential women in medicine by the Medical Women’s Journal. We also welcome Dr Ilan H. Meyer from the US who is an expert in public health issues related to Minority Health. Dr Meyer has developed a model of minority stress that describes the relationship of social stressors and mental disorders and helps to explain LGBTI health disparities.

For those working to prevent suicide in Australia, the Conference is the preeminent knowledge exchange, capacity building and networking event of the year. The full Program will be available on the Conference website this afternoon.

I encourage each and every one of you to register and I look forward to seeing you in my home town of Melbourne.

Angela Emslie
SPA Chair