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Australia Award winners 'humbled' to be standing together tackling mental health

17:05  06 november  2019
17:05  06 november  2019 Source:   brisbanetimes.com.au

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The joint winners , Joe Williams and Christine Morgan, said it was wonderful to be recognised for their work. Joe Williams, a Wiradjuri man and Indigenous mental health advocate, and Christine Morgan, the newly appointed suicide prevention adviser to the Prime Minister, said they were humbled to

The joint winners , Joe Williams and Christine Morgan, said it was wonderful to be recognised for their work. Congratulations to Christine Morgan and Joe Williams, well-deserved recognition of you hard work and dedicated advocacy@smh @CMorgan265 @joewilliams_tew ' Award winners

Joe Williams wearing a hat and glasses smiling for the camera: Christine Morgan and Joe Williams are dual winners of the 2019 Mental Health prize.© Nick Moir Christine Morgan and Joe Williams are dual winners of the 2019 Mental Health prize.

Two passionate advocates determined to drive down Australia's suicide rate have been named the joint winners of the nation's highest mental health honour.

Joe Williams, a Wiradjuri man and Indigenous mental health advocate, and Christine Morgan, the newly appointed suicide prevention adviser to the Prime Minister, said they were humbled to receive the fourth annual Mental Health Prize on Wednesday night.

Mr Williams, who battled mental illness and survived a suicide attempt, said he was “blown away” to be recognised alongside Ms Morgan. "It's huge for me," he said.

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Award winners ' humbled ' to be standing together tackling mental health . 🎉Congratulations to our valued creative partner Enigma Agency for being awarded a silver gong in the 2019 Sydney Design Awards for their work on the Newcastle Writers Festival branding.

Award winners ' humbled ' to be standing together tackling mental health . The joint winners , Joe Williams and Christine Morgan, said it was wonderful to be recognised for their work.

The former NRL player and professional boxer hoped now was a good time to approach the government for funding for his organisation The Enemy Within.

“Imagine we could get 10 of me doing the work that I’m doing impacting on people," he said.

Mr Williams has spent most of the year travelling to communities from metropolitan centres to remote Arnhem Land giving motivational workshops.

“It’s about the people, and if we get more healing to more people we’re going to reduce the crisis we have in mental health," he said.

Ms Morgan said she was honoured to be standing next to her fellow winner, "a First Nations man who has done so much in this space".

Ms Morgan, the chief executive of the National Mental Health Commission and former head of the Butterfly Foundation, said the award was also recognition for all her colleagues working to improve the mental health of Australians.

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Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well- being . It affects how we think, feel, and act. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.

“You can be fortunate enough to be the one to receive the prize, but actually that comes from the shoulder-to-shoulder work with just so many people, you just can’t achieve anything on your own,” she said.

The award reaffirmed Ms Morgan's passion for mental health advocacy.

“I would like to give a prize to everyone who is working in this space, because it’s the passion, the commitment, the genuine caring of so many that will make a difference,” she said.

Chair of the Australian Mental Health Prize advisory group Ita Buttrose said the winners and finalists all demonstrated “the diverse and deeply compassionate work being undertaken in many challenging areas across this nation”.

The prize was established in 2016 through UNSW’s School of Psychiatry to recognise people who have made outstanding contributions to mental health awareness or its prevention and treatment.

The finalists were counsellor and youth worker Connie Boglis, managing director of the Zero Suicide Institute of Australasia Sue Murray, psychiatrist and founder of the Black Dog Institute Professor Gordon Parker, district coordinator for Aboriginal mental health and drug and alcohol at Western NSW local health district Donna Stanley, and chief executive of Ambulance Victoria Associate Professor Tony Walker.

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