Diego de Leo Address 2020: Hugh Mackay AO



Tragedy shapes who we are and what we become in ways both spoken and unspoken.

No individual embodies this more than Professor Diego de Leo. After losing a close colleague to suicide, Professor de Leo pursued suicide as his research topic of choice.

The annual Diego de Leo Address marks the enormous contribution made by Professor Diego de Leo to suicide prevention in Australia and internationally.

De Leo wrote that ‘suicide is a great human tragedy. Not only does it represent the epilogue to unbearable suffering for the person who suicides, but it may be the source of incredible pain for those who survive the loss’.

The Diego de Leo Address recognises an individual who has exhibited leadership and a strong commitment to advancing the cause of suicide prevention.

The 2020 Diego de Leo Address, delivered by Hugh Mackay, will focus on community and connection. In these unprecedented times, community and social connection presents a significant social and health challenge. It is important that we develop an understanding of the impacts these challenges have on people, and the ways that we can begin to work towards recovery during ongoing change and uncertainty.

Registrations are now open for the annual Diego de Leo Address.

Come and join us, and be inspired by individuals from across the globe who are doing amazing work.

Attendees at all eight webinars will receive an official certificate of completion.  

Continue the conversation: join us on social media using #Connect2020 to keep the conversation going after the webinar.

This series is proudly supported by LivingWorks – Australia’s leader in suicide first aid training, including well known evidence based programs ASIST, safeTALK, suicide to Hope and LivingWorks Start. Learn more about their new 90 minute online suicide intervention skills training program, START.



Date: Thursday 03 December 2020
Time: 3.00pm – 5.00pm AEDT (Australian Eastern Daylight Time – Sydney/Melbourne/Canberra)
Cost: Members – $35 / Non-Member – $70 / Student – $35

Register: Click here to register (registration closes 5pm AEDT 02 December)

Registration is complimentary for members of the Suicide Prevention Australia Lived Experience Panel. Please contact us to find out more.


Phone: 02 9262 1130
Email: events@suicidepreventionaust.org
Join our mailing list to receive regular updates about the series.


Moderator: Sophie Scott – National Medical Reporter, Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Having written two critically acclaimed books, and received numerous awards including the Australian Museum Eureka prize for medical journalism, Sophie is a highly respected and sought after health presenter. She’s the national medical reporter for the ABC, with her stories appearing on ABC news, 7.30, ABC radio and online.

Sophie writes and speaks about the science of positive psychology with thousands of readers regularly responding to her blog.

She has hosted and spoken at numerous events including Research Australia awards dinner, World Congress on Positive Psychology, the Mayo Clinic social media conference, Royal Australian College of Physicians conference and many mental health and patient-centred events. Connect with Sophie at www.sophiescott.com.au and Instagram @sophiescott2


Hugh Mackay is a social psychologist and researcher, and the bestselling author of 21 books, including his latest, The Inner Self, published concurrently with his eighth novel, The Question of Love.

He has had a 60-year career in social research, and was also a weekly newspaper columnist for over 25 years. He is currently an honorary professor in the Research School of Psychology at ANU, and a patron of the Asylum Seekers Centre. Among other honorary appointments, he has been deputy chairman of the Australia Council for the Arts, the inaugural chairman of the ACT government’s Community Inclusion Board and an honorary professor at Macquarie, Wollongong and Charles Sturt universities.

Hugh is a Fellow of the Australian Psychological Society and the Royal Society of NSW. In recognition of his pioneering work in social research, he has been awarded honorary doctorates by Charles Sturt, Macquarie, NSW, Western Sydney and Wollongong universities. He was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2015.


Chairman, batyr

Sebastian Robertson is a recognised entrepreneur and executive. Sebastian is the co-founder and CEO of BIRDI, a technology platform that enables businesses to integrate drones into their operations by providing an ‘end to end’ drone management platform. Working with clients such as Boral, NSW Government, Insurance Council of Australia and numerous local councils, BIRDI is helping to shape the Australian drone industry.

Prior to BIRDI, Sebastian founded the social enterprise batyr, a preventative mental health charity, and was its founding CEO for 5 years, establishing batyr as a national leader in innovative programs for young people in mental health. batyr has trained over 850 young people with lived mental ill health experiences to share their story, reached 250,000+ young people face-to-face and comprises a team of over 200. Sebastian remains actively involved in the organisation as its Chairman.

He complements his experience in innovation and social enterprise with a double degree in Economics and Commerce and previously worked in finance at GE (General Electric). Sebastian was named Sydney Social Entrepreneur of the Year by the School for Social Entrepreneurs as well as being recognised by his alma mater as Young Alumnus of the Year at the Australian National University.


Clinical Director 4 Mental Health/Consultant Liaison Psychiatrist

Dr Alys Cole-King is the Clinical Director at 4 Mental Health. She is the first person from the UK to be awarded the Ringel Service Award from the International Association for Suicide Prevention. She was named one of the most influential women in medicine by the Medical Women’s Journal and has been profiled in the Guardian, Lancet and The Psychiatrist in recognition of work with policy makers, medical royal colleges, people with lived experience, academics and charities.

As Clinical Director at 4 Mental Health Alys leads the development of the Connecting with People training programs, and SAFETool Assessment and Safety Planning Framework to promote consistency and link research to clinical practice.  Connecting with People training is delivered across many sectors: healthcare, education, NGOs, community and secure services. The training is used across the UK and internationally, with a significant footprint in Australia. Alys led the development of StayingSafe.net, an innovative free digital solution to share compassion, hope and equip people to make a Safety Plan. StayingSafe.net was highly commended in the 2020 BMJ Awards and This Can Happen Awards.

Alys undertook a yearlong research project using psychological autopsy techniques to investigate patients who attempted suicide or engaged in self-harm whilst under the care of mental health services. A primary author of numerous papers, book chapters, webinars, BMJ Best Practice, BMJ podcasts and self-help resources on suicide and self-harm prevention, Alys has also contributed to several national and international e-learning modules including for the BMJ.  Alys is a reviewer for several journals and leads international campaigns via social media and works with the media (film, radio and newspapers) to ensure a safe and compassionate public health message of suicide prevention.


CEO - beyondblue

Georgie has significant and broad-ranging leadership, policy and service delivery experience in the community, public and private sectors.

Georgie was appointed as the CEO of beyondblue in May 2014 where she has led a significant expansion of effort and results in service innovation, suicide prevention and digital solutions.

Previously, she helped set up and was the Deputy CEO of the National Mental Health Commission, providing independent advice to government on reform.

From 2006-2012, Georgie had national responsibility for mental health, suicide prevention, substance misuse, cancer and chronic disease policy and programs as a senior executive at the Commonwealth Department of Health. She led the development of a significant whole of government mental health Budget package and the strategy and development of legislation to introduce plain packaging of tobacco products in Australia – a world first.

Georgie has also led national reforms to lift Australia’s organ and tissue donation rates and worked in the HIV/AIDS sector in Australia and the UK.

“Attending Connect 2020 has been a highlight of my working from home experience (re: COVID 19). This webinar has given me food for thought about the industry I work in as well as my own mental health. A big thank you Suicide Prevention Australia for organising this event! The thought behind the choice of speakers was spot on and their content most relevant.”-
“Together we are building a new body of evidence of what works. Thanks to Suicide Prevention Australia for creating the platform that enables us to connect, understand and do better with, and for people, their families and communities.”-
“I would like to thank all for your support in sharing the Connect 2020 to our workplaces or living rooms during these testing times we are all facing in today’s world.”-

Connect 2020 is a unique opportunity to connect and learn from mental health and suicide prevention leaders. Don’t miss out, secure your spot in our next webinar today.