Plenary Speakers

Professor Alan Fels AO


Prof Fels

Professor Allan Fels is the Chair of the National Mental Health Commission currently Professor of Government at the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG), an institution established by the governments of Australia, new Zealand, the States and Territories and 16 leading universities who educate and train senior public sector leaders. He also holds the following current posts: Chairman, Victorian Government’s Taxi Industry Inquiry; Chairman of the Haven Foundation, which seeks to provide accommodation and support for the long-term mentally ill; Chairman of Visy Australasia Governance Board; Director of the China Advanced Leadership Program; International Advisor to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences; and a Member of the Selection Panel for ABC/SBS Board.

Professor Fels was Chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission from 1995 to 2003 and before that Chairman of the Trade Practices Commission and Chairman of the Prices Surveillance Authority.

Professor Fels is a long term advocate of mental health policy reform. He serves or has served on a number of government advisory boards including: the Taskforce to Establish the NSW Mental Health Commission; Chair of the Mental Health National Standards Implementation Steering Committee; Australian Government’s Better Access Evaluation Steering Committee; the National Advisory Committee for Mental Health; the Australian Government’s Disability Investment Group, Chair of the Victorian Government’s Stronger Community Organisations Project. 

Professor Fels is a patron of: the Mental Health Council of Australia; SANE; Private Mental Health Consumer Carer Network; the Victorian Mental Health Carers Network; the Mental Health Illness Fellowship Victoria, the Burnet Institute; St Vincent De Paul Society’s Compeer Program; Association of Relatives and Friends of the Mentally Ill (ARAFMI); and Psychology Centre at Swinburne University. He was also a member of the Bayside Heath Board for a number of years.

Professor Fels is a carer for his daughter Isabella who has schizophrenia. Along with Isabella and his family, he featured in an episode of Australian Story in 2002 about Isabella’s mental illness and the impact on the family.


James Morton

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James Morton is the Scottish Transgender Alliance Manager. His national post began in 2007 and is funded by the Scottish Government to undertake research and provide training and policy development guidance on transgender equality and human rights, especially in healthcare. Since 1998, James has been active in work to improve mental health service responses to self-harming and suicidal behaviours among young people and LGBTI people. He has worked collaboratively with a wide range of academics, voluntary sector organisations and public bodies in Scotland, the UK and Europe to evidence current transgender healthcare inequalities and improve transgender rights and inclusion. In 2012 James co-authored the UK Trans Mental Health Study which was a partnership between the Scottish Transgender Alliance, TransBareAll, the Trans Resource and Empowerment Centre, Traverse Research and Sheffield Hallam University. The UK Trans Mental Health Study represents the largest research survey of its kind in Europe, providing ground-breaking data on trans people’s mental health needs and experiences, explored in the context of daily life, social/support mechanisms and when accessing healthcare and mental health services. Central to the study was an exploration of how being trans and the process of transitioning (social and/or medical) impacts on mental health and wellbeing.

dash1Dr Keri Lawson-Te Aho

 Keri Lawson-Te Aho

Dr Keri Lawson-Te Aho is a Māori community activist and social justice advocate from New Zealand.  Keri has more than 30 years’ experience in Māori mental health services particularly as a staunch advocate for Māori youth suicide prevention. She also has extensive experience in Māori community development, having worked for a number of tribes to frame mental health responses to the issues confronting Māori communities.  Keri was a Research Fellow with the East West Center in Hawai’i in 1995 and completed research placements in Indigenous Public Health at the Johns Hopkins Medical School, Indian Health Services, Rockville Maryland, and the Native American Research and Training Center at the University of Arizona, Tucson. Her passion for Indigenous self-determination and development, historical trauma and healing and Indigenous and Māori suicide prevention have come at great personal cost over the 30 years of her commitment to this work. Keri wrote the first Indigenous suicide prevention strategy in the world and is a recognised leader in Indigenous suicide prevention. Her PhD is called Whaia te Mauriora: In Pursuit of Healing – theorising the connections between soul healing, tribal self-determination and Māori suicide prevention in Aotearoa/New Zealand. She is currently a member of the international dignity network, Taskforce for Indigenous Psychologists and Society of (American) Indian Psychologists . Keri is currently employed as a Māori Public Health Lecturer and Research Fellow at the University of Otago, Wellington


Dr Ruth McNair

Ruth McNair

Ruth is a general practitioner in an inner-urban general practice and Associate Professor at the Department of General Practice, University of Melbourne. Her clinical interests include lesbian and bisexual women’s health and sexual health. Recent research includes comparative analysis of health data in the Australian Longitudinal Study of Women’s Health according to sexual orientation; her PhD study on patient-doctor relationships between same-sex attracted women and their usual GP; and the cultural issues related to alcohol use amongst lesbian and bisexual women. She was a member of the Victorian Ministerial Advisory Committee on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Health and Wellbeing from 2000 to 2010 and Chairperson during 2010. This role included the development of a guide for publicly funded health services on GLBTI inclusive practice. She has also written a guide for GLB sensitive care in general practice that has been endorsed by the RoyalAustralianCollege of General Practitioners.


Dameyon Bonson

Dameyon Bonson

Dameyon is of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage and that of caucasian Australian. His Indigenous heritage hails from the Mangyari people in the Northern Territory and the island of Maubiag in the Torres Strait. He is a double degree undergraduate student of Social Work and Indigenous Cultures. He delivered his first presentation on Indigenous sexuality in 2010 entitled ‘The colonisation of desire’. Dameyon has delivered both nationally and internationally on Indigenous male’s engagement in health and suicide prevention. He recently returned from Canada where he shared his experiences of a colonised learning space within the Social Work academy.  Dameyon will be continuing his work on declonising Social Work when he will be running a workshop this year in May at the World’s Indigenous Peoples Conference in Education, Hawaii.  He will also be presenting ‘A culturally responsive social work application of Indigenous and western ways of thinking and doing when responding to Indigenous sexual diversity in young Indigenous male’ at the Joint World Conference on Social Work, Education and Social Development in Melbourne later this year. Dameyon lives, works and studies in the remoteness of the Kimberley in Western Australia with his Canadian husband Daryn. Dameyon was married in Vancouver, Canada. Dameyon sits on the Board of Directors of Men’s Outreach Services in Broome and is an advocate of bringing mainstream spaces to Aboriginal and Gay men.


Sekneh Beckett


Sekneh Beckett is a Psychologist and a doctoral candidate.  She has worked in youth mental health for more than 15 years. Beckett is passionate about the therapeutic work she undertakes with young people of diverse cultures, religions, genders, sexes, and sexualities. She believes her “work is love made visible.”

Morgan Carpenter

Morgan Carpenter

Morgan Carpenter was elected to the role of President on 1 September 2013. Morgan migrated permanently to Australia in 2005 and has been active with OII Australia since 2009. A founding board member, Morgan was previously secretary. Morgan works as an analyst for an IT company and has a social and economic policy research background. Morgan played a key role in OII Australia’s contributions to Senate Inquiries on anti-discrimination legislation, and involuntary or coerced sterilisation. Morgan is a member of the National LGBTI Health Alliance’s Intersex, Trans and Gender Diversity Working Group, and Mental Health Working Group


John Howard

JohnH1 copy

John, Clinical Psychologist, was a Senior Lecturer at the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre (NCPIC), NDARC, Faculty of Medicine, UNSW and has worked in schools, juvenile justice, adolescent psychiatry, substance use treatment, and universities. He consults to WHO, UNICEF, UNODC, UNESCAP and NGOs with field-work in India, Philippines, South Africa, Egypt, Nepal, Lao PDR, Viet Nam, China, Thailand, Myanmar, Bhutan, Malaysia and Indonesia on capacity-building for community treatment of young drug users and increasing access to harm reduction services for young injecting drug users, and cannabis. John has been developing youth specific prevention, youth sector, pharmacy and Indigenous community resources and capacity building activities with NCPIC. His major clinical, teaching and research areas are: adolescent substance use, ‘street youth’, comorbidity, depression and suicide in young people, working with marginalised youth, adolescent psychotherapy, same-sex attracted youth, HIV infection in adolescents, resilience, youth friendly harm reduction and treatment capacity-building. John was a co-author of a seminal research paper on suicidal behaviour in LGBTI youth in Australia.


Margaret Mayman

M Mayman

Margaret Mayman moved to Sydney in December 2013 to become minister at Pitt Street Uniting Church. She has a PhD in Christian Social Ethics from Union Theological Seminary.  In her previous parish in Wellington, New Zealand, Margaret led the congregation through a change process in which they consciously identified as a progressive congregation with a mission to ‘seek the welfare of the city’. They practiced a ministry of inclusive hospitality and sought to participate in the public square of New Zealand’s capital city.

Margaret has been involved in a number of social justice campaigns presenting a progressive religious voice on issues such as Marriage Equality and the Living Wage.  As chair of the St Andrew’s Trust for the Study of Religion and Society, she has developed programmes that bring religious and ethical insights into dialogue with the issues of the secular city.

In 2010 she was awarded an international fellowship to the Kettering Foundation in Ohio where she researched faith communities’ engagement in community politics.  Margaret has presented at the Common Dreams progressive Christian conferences in Australia and she did a Common Dreams on the Road lecture series in four Australian cities in 2011.

Margaret’s interests include queer spirituality, human rights advocacy, refugee issues, peace, and economic and sexual justice.

She lives with her partner Clare, who also a minister, and her adult son Andrew, a unique and wonderful person with autism.


Barry Taylor


Barry is the Senior Project Officer – Capacity Development for MindOUT!: LGBTI Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Project.  He has worked in mental health promotion and suicide prevention for 25 years at the local, national and international levels.  His extensive experience includes sitting on State and Commonwealth government advisory committees; designing, implementing and evaluating suicide prevention programmes; writing suicide prevention guidelines, training packages and community resources; providing technical advice to community based and national mental health promotion and suicide prevention programmes.

Barry is an internationally sought after presenter and trainer on his specialist subject areas of mental health promotion, suicide prevention, loss and grief, spirituality and men’s well-being.  He has a particular interest in suicide and depression in men as well as sexuality related suicide.

Barry brings a sociological analysis and a public health framework to his work as well as his lived experience of depression.  He has a keen interest in the social and cultural determinants of health and well-being and is an advocate for evidence based practice; the use of outcomes based logic in both programme development and evaluation measures for complex social health programmes.