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Commissioner Professor Helen Milroy awarded the 2020 Australian Mental Health Prize

Commissioner Professor Helen Milroy awarded the 2020 Australian 
Mental Health Prize

The National Mental Health Commission (the Commission) today extended its congratulations to Commissioner Professor Helen Milroy on being awarded the prestigious Australian Mental Health Prize for 2020 jointly with Scientia Professor Gordon Parker AO, founder of the Black Dog Institute and Scientia Professor of Psychiatry, UNSW Sydney.

The Commission’s Chair, Mrs Lucy Brogden AM, said the award was due recognition for Professor Milroy’s tireless work with the National Mental Health Commission and in various areas of mental health.

“Her advocacy and clinical work with and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has been truly outstanding,” Mrs Brogden said.

“The award also recognises her work in trauma experienced by children, which includes her significant role as Commissioner on the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Helen’s career long focus on the potential of young people is evident through her recent contributions to the National Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy, which is soon to be released for consultation by the Commission.”

Commission CEO, Christine Morgan, welcomed the announcement of the dual winners of the 2020 Australian Mental Health Prize, especially Commissioner Helen Milroy in recognition of her tireless efforts to advocate for the mental health needs of children, especially those who have been adversely impacted by social, cultural and systemic trauma in all of its forms.

“Australia’s understanding and responses to the care and whole of community responsibility needed for children’s mental health is due in a large part to Helen’s expertise, advocacy and knowledge. We are very grateful to have her guidance and advice at the Commission,” said Ms Morgan. 

Prof. Milroy is a Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist and Winthrop Professor at the University of Western Australia. She has been on state and national mental health advisory committees and boards with a particular focus on the wellbeing of children.

Her work and research interests include holistic medicine, child mental health, recovery from trauma and grief, application of Indigenous knowledge, cultural models of care, Aboriginal health and mental health, and developing and supporting the Aboriginal medical workforce.

Prof. Milroy is a descendant of the Palyku people of the Pilbara region of Western Australia and was born and educated in Perth. Professor Milroy holds a degree in Medicine and Surgery, is a fellow of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatry and completed the Certificate of Advanced Training in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

On receiving the award last night from Governor-General, His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd), Professor Milroy commented, “I believe Australia’s greatest hope for the future rests in the potential of our children. I look forward to a greater focus and investment in our children, their family and community. I hope we can feel proud when we look back, knowing we did everything to give children the opportunity to thrive, to support them when they faltered and to make sure they receive the most comprehensive and well-resourced mental health services available. That would be something to celebrate.”

“We also extend our congratulations to Prof. Parker on the joint award. The Commission has known and worked with him since our inception and he is truly a significant leader in mental health,” added Mrs Brogden.

“For them to receive this award in a truly exceptional field of finalists is something to be proud of.”

The Commission also would like to recognize the distinguished field of finalists for this year’s Prize, including Ms Claire Spencer AM, Dr Gerry Naughtin, Prof. James Ogloff AM, Mr John Brogden AM, and Mr Keith Wilson, who have outstanding contributions to the promotion of mental health or the prevention and treatment of mental illness.

The Commission also offers its thanks and extends congratulations to the organisers of the prize as it ensures that unerring dedication and commitment to mental health is recognised.

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Acknowledgement of Country

The Commission acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands throughout Australia.
We pay our respects to their clans, and to the elders, past present and emerging, and acknowledge their continuing connection to land, sea and community.


The Commission is committed to embracing diversity and eliminating all forms of discrimination in the provision of health services. The Commission welcomes all people irrespective of ethnicity, lifestyle choice, faith, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Lived Experience

We acknowledge the individual and collective contributions of those with a lived and living experience of mental ill-health and suicide, and those who love, have loved and care for them. Each person’s journey is unique and a valued contribution to Australia’s commitment to mental health suicide prevention systems reform.