Neil Kirby has 38 years ambulance experience working in a number of areas including operations, education, operational support and management. He holds a Master of Public Health, Bachelor of Business (Human Resource Development), Bachelor of Arts (Journalism) and Associate Diploma of Applied Science. He has held a number of senior positions including Deputy Commissioner of the Queensland Ambulance Service in Australia and Director of Operations for the Dubai Corporation for Ambulance Services (DCAS). He is currently the Operations Consultant at DCAS. He sits on the International Roundtable on Community Paramedicine and was a founding member of International Paramedic. In 2004 he was honoured in the Australian Queens Birthday Honours list with the award of the Australian Ambulance Service Medal.
James Maskey is the National Engagement Manager of the Police and Emergency Services Program at beyondblue, an independent not‐for‐profit organisation that provides information and support to help everyone in Australia achieve their best possible mental health.
The Police and Emergency Services Program aims to promote the positive mental health of emergency service personnel across Australia and reduce their risk of suicide and mental illness through collaboration between agencies, unions, peak bodies and government departments.
A graduate of the Bond University Law Faculty and Griffith University Department of Humanities, James is also a retired front-line Queensland Police Officer with a service history including General Duties, The Police Citizen Youth Club and the highly regarded Child Protection & Investigation Unit. During the course of his duties, James responded to countless critical incidents, murders, suicides, home invasions, domestic violence incidents, fatal traffic crashes and serious sexual assaults.
Constant exposure to these critical incidents negatively impacted James’s mental health and in 2013 James was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In 2015, James made the difficult but empowering decision to resign from the Queensland Police Service in an effort to reclaim his mental health.
James is incredibly passionate about changing the stigma that surrounds mental health, raising the profile of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and empowering those who suffer from the debilitating mental health challenges to seek the support of professionals who can help them recover.
Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning Victoria
Elisha Balfour has been a registered Psychologist for over 10 years now. She has worked across a variety of settings including private practice, employee assistance programs and occupational rehabilitation but has had a continued interest and focus on Trauma response and the prevention and treatment of trauma related disorders. This has led to securing work as a senior Psychologist with the Queensland Police Service where she now works to support sworn and unsworn members. Elisha is passionate about destigmatising mental health in first responders and providing adequate mental health and trauma informed education and support in these areas.
University of New South Wales & The Black Dog Institute
Dr Samuel Harvey, MBBS MRCGP MRCPsych FRANZCP PhD, leads the Workplace Mental Health Research Program at the School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales. He is a psychiatrist and epidemiologist with a particular interest in the overlap between mental health, physical health and work.
After initially working as a general practitioner, Dr Harvey trained in both general adult and consultation liaison psychiatry at the Maudsley Hospital and Institute of Psychiatry in London. He completed his PhD with the University of London, with a thesis titled “Does physical activity protect against common mental disorders?” In 2009, he was awarded the UK Royal Society of Medicine Young Epidemiologist of the Year award.
Dr Harvey’s main research focus is the relationship between work and mental health. His research in this area considers the role work and workplace trauma may have in precipitating mental illness, the occupational outcomes of those already suffering from mental disorders, predictors of sickness absence and workplace based interventions for both the treatment and prevention of mental disorders. Together with Prof Mitchell and Prof Bryant, Dr Harvey is currently leading a five year program of research examining some of the specific mental health problems encountered by police, fire and ambulance officers. Further details about this program of research can be found at www.wmh.unsw.edu.au
Dr Harvey’s other main research interest focuses on the overlap between physical and mental health. He has undertaken studies examining Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, the impact of comorbid depression on chronic medical conditions and the potential for lifestyle factors to prevent common mental disorders.
Clinically, Dr Harvey works as a Consultation Liaison Psychiatrist at St George Hospital in Kogarah, where he runs a specialist service for patients with chronic renal disease. He has previously also run specialist clinics for sick health professionals and dedicated workplace psychiatry clinics.
Dr Amanda Bond has been working as a psychologist since 2001 and holds endorsements in Clinical and Forensic psychology. Amanda’s prior work experience includes the assessment and treatment of adolescents and adults engaging in sexual and violent behaviours, undertaking independent psychological and risk assessments and preparation of reports for forensic matters, working with youth justice clients in the public mental health system and operating a private psychological practice for over 10 years. For the past 2 years Amanda has worked with Victoria Police as the manager of the Specialist Investigators Support Unit (SISU) and has overseen the development and introduction of the SISU within Victoria Police.
The Specialist Investigators Support Unit (SISU) is a proactive mental health initiative which was introduced for Family Violence Investigation Units (FVIU) and Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Teams (SOCIT) by Family Violence Command, Victoria Police, in early 2018. The overarching goal of the SISU is to improve mental health and increase psychological wellbeing of SOCIT and FVIU employees taking into account the specialised aspects/demands of their work and associated risk to their mental health and psychological wellbeing
Queensland Fire & Emergency Services
Bernie holds a PhD in psychology with a specialisation in Trauma within Emergency Services organisations. Bernie has held positions as General Manager and National Director of some of the largest and most successful psychology organisations across Australasia.
Bernie has worked with small, large, and iconic organisations to improve approaches to Mental Health and Wellbeing. Bernie was the 2016 keynote speaker for WorkSafe Queensland Annual Statewide conference for the Construction Industry where he spoke to the development of Mentally Healthy Workplaces in the Construction industry.
Bernie has lead large scale Critical Incident psychological response and support services including the Victorian Ash Wednesday fires; 2011 Qld floods; Cyclone Yasi; Christchurch Earthquakes and many more. Bernie’s role within Queensland Fire and Emergency Services involves the management of Clinical Psychology and Organisational Development services, which relates to the proactive, preventative and reactive support of mental health within QFES’ Corporate, Fire and Rescue, Rural Fire and SES members.
University of Sydney
Dr. Helen Paterson is a Senior Lecturer in Forensic Psychology at the University of Sydney. Her research focuses on the effects of traumatic events on memory and psychological well-being. She conducts high-quality applied research and regularly works with industry partners. For example, she has worked with the NSW Police Force on two projects; one investigating the selection requirements of police officers, and another investigating best-practice techniques for memory retrieval. She has also worked with NSW Fire and Rescue on two projects; one investigating ways to train firefighters to make effective decisions under stressful conditions and the other investigating PTSD, resilience, and post-incident debriefing.
Emergency Management & Defence Diversity and Inclusion Practitioners’ Australasia (EMDDIPA)
Sonja is a Churchill Fellow, who recently published her report researching the connection between workplace inclusion in emergency services and the positive correlation this has to improved public safety and employee well being outcomes. Prior to departing on her Churchill Fellowship Sonja held the inaugural role of diversity and inclusion lead at FRNSW for number of years, establishing the strategy, narrative and staff networks which exist today. For this she received the Deputy Commissioner’s certificate of Appreciation.
Today she is the founder of the Emergency Management & Defence Diversity and Inclusion Practitioners’ Australasia Inc. (EMDDIPA) which promotes inclusive practice across the Emergency Services.
She is also the senior consultant at Eveiller Consulting.
Sonja brings experience in Organisational Development, Executive Coaching and Inclusion & Diversity, having consulted across numerous corporate and business sectors for the past 20 years. Prior to FRNSW, Sonja worked as the Dep Director Equity & Diversity Strategy for the University of Sydney, established the inaugural, global Inclusion and Diversity strategy for Singtel /Optus and worked in various leadership capacities within the Higher Education sector.
She is a member of the Australian Human Resources Institute’s Inclusion and Diversity Advisory Panel and was the former co-Chair of the National Sorry Day Committee Inc, working to better inform Australians and Government around issues impacting the Stolen Generations.
Sonja’s expertise lies in the tailored design of strategy leading to the adaptive implementation of actions to drive positive cultural change; enabling businesses and their people to share in the many successes afforded by safe and inclusive workplaces.
South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust
Sasha Johnston is a Research Paramedic who has worked in the UK and the Caribbean since 2002. She completed a PgCert in Advanced Practice and a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) funded Masters in Clinical Research, both with distinction. Her research interest is Ambulance staff mental health and wellbeing, with an emphasis on organisational support and cultural change.
Sasha is a confident public speaker and has spoken about ambulance staff wellbeing at a number of conferences, as well as television, radio and other media.
Her future research aims to develop British Intelligence’s Mandatory Impact Monitoring initiative for ambulance services.
Department of Communities & Justice NSW
YES Psychology & Consulting Pty Ltd
Kash is a Psychologist with over 20 years of diverse experience in the field of business psychology, including training, organisational consulting, program development, counselling and the management of professional health teams. Kash has expertise in Critical Incident Management (FIFO, Off-shore and locally based), Employee Assistance Programs, manager support services and mental health services.
Kash also holds specialist consultancy experience in the quality management and review of large-scale counselling, peer-support and Critical Incident Management programs.
Kash has experience working with Frontline Officers and Staff, Executives, Academics, Lawyers, HR and WH&S professionals who deal with high-performance, high-exposure and high-pressure contexts. For the past 15 years, Kash has been known as a sophisticated and trusted professional, able to support leaders and employees across a diversity of contexts – from resilience and wellbeing programs to risk management and recovery.
Kash has extensive experience in developing programs to support leaders and employee wellbeing – including “Employee Wellbeing; Managing difficult situations and people” and “Helping Managers deal with distressed staff”. Kash is also regular conference presenter on topics such as employee wellbeing, mental health leadership and the “Return on Investment for Effective Employee Wellbeing Programs”.
Department of Defence
Victoria State Emergency Service
Director Corruption Operations Crime and Corruption Commission, Queensland
Juliet was has been a police officer in the Queensland Police Service since 1991. She has served in numerous locations across Queensland in varied roles. Juliet is currently seconded to the Crime and Corruption Commission performing the functions of a Detective Inspector.
Juliet has a number of tertiary qualifications to Masters level and completed the Australian Company Directors Course in 2018. Juliet’s interests are spending time with family, maintaining the various aspects of her health, getting back to nature and attempting to embrace being middle-aged.
In 2011 Juliet was diagnosed with PTSD. The diagnosis provided a great deal of relief to Juliet and her family as it enabled her to find a range of appropriate treatment options and make life style adjustments to assist her in managing her condition, which has benefited both herself, her family and her colleagues. Since being diagnosed with PTSD Juliet has been promoted to the rank of Inspector and her personal narrative informs her leadership style. Juliet maintains that PTSD has given her the gift of insight and humility. Juliet is a keen advocate that the way we treat colleagues with regards to their mental health is directly linked to the inclusiveness of workplace cultures and the soft skills of the people engaged in our workplace and its systems.
Professionally, the most important element of leadership for Juliet is inclusion; creating a socially safe place where everyone can continue to reach their potential.