Our Speakers

Keynote Speakers

Professor Rachael Field

Rachael is a Professor in the Bond Law School and a member of the Executive of Bond University’s Centre for Professional Legal Education. She is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and an Australian Learning and Teaching Fellow – having completed a National Fellowship on promoting law student wellbeing. Rachael teaches first year law threshold concepts and transition as well as dispute resolution. She has received national recognition for teaching excellence through a national citation in 2008, a national teaching fellowship in 2010 and a national teaching excellence award in 2014.

Rachael is the founder of the Australian Wellness Network for Law, which is now expanding internationally. Her areas of research expertise include dispute resolution, family law, domestic violence and legal education. She is also co-founder of the Australian Dispute Resolution Research Network. She has a portfolio of more than 80 scholarly publications and is co-author of four books. Since 1994, Rachael has volunteered on the management committee of the Women’s Legal Service in Brisbane and she has been president of the Service since 2004. In 2013 Rachael was named Queensland Woman Lawyer of the Year.

Professor Rachael Field

Richard Hill

Richard Hill, MA, MEd, MBMSc, is a practicing psychotherapist/counsellor, an author, educator and professional supervisor. He is acknowledged internationally as an expert in human dynamics, communications, the brain and the mind. He is a regular speaker on the topics of neuroscience and psychosocial genomics, has developed special training courses for suicide prevention and is the originator of the Curiosity Approach.

Richard is President of the Global Association of Interpersonal Neurobiology Studies (GAINS), a select member of the International Psychosocial Genomics Research Group, an Esteemed Member of the International Council of Professional Therapists, director of the Mindscience Institute and Managing Editor of The Neuropsychotherapist. He holds Masters degrees in Arts; Education; and Mind and Brain Sciences. His other books include, Choose Hope and How the ‘real world’ Is Driving Us Crazy! as well as numerous articles, journal papers and book chapters, including Perspectives on Coping and Resilience and Strengths Based Social Work Practice in Mental Health, published worldwide.

Richard Hill

Dr Vandana Gopikumar

Dr Vandana Gopikumar is co-founder of The Banyan and The Banyan Academy of Leadership in Mental Health (BALM). She is passionate about understanding the highs, lows and emotional states in between as well as the meanings and attributions ascribed to these emotional states, amongst persons living with bipolar disorder. She is also interested in working with those who experience auditory and visual hallucinations and delusions, using a social and sociological lens. Within this framework, she is keen to understand whether these phenomena are context specific, culturally influenced, or neutral.

Dr Vandana Gopikumar has also been part of a team that has developed several models that address humanitarian, mental health and social crises such as homelessness, social exclusion, distress, mental ill health and loss of social capital, while promoting diversity. In addition, her research focuses on the process of caregiving, its role in value-based mental health practice and designing a responsive health system. 
Dr Vandana Gopikumar says her primary and most fulfilling role is that of a clinician or social work practitioner. Her team attempts to make the lives of the distressed persons that they come in contact with at least marginally better and enjoyable.

A Professor of Social Work at TISS Dr Vandana Gopikumar works with a diverse group of mental health professionals, health coaches, community mobilisers and peer advocates as part of her clinical and quality audit work.

Dr Vandana Gopikumar 

Dr Russell Roberts

Dr Russell Roberts is Associate Professor of Leadership at Charles Sturt University and Adjunct Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Sydney. He has extensive experience as a clinician, academic and service director. As the director of a mental health service he led an organisation of over 1000 staff, delivering comprehensive services across the spectrum of care. Facilities in his organisation ranged from Australia’s largest integrated mental health hospital, to teams in Australia’s most remote locations, such as Wilcannia, Lightning Ridge and Bourke.

Dr Roberts is the Editor in Chief of the Australian Journal of Rural Health, Chair of the National Alliance for Rural and Remote Mental Health and Chair of the ANZ Rural and Remote Mental Health Symposium. He has previously served on the NSW Mental Health Commission Advisory Council, as Director of Clinical Training at Griffith University. He has an Executive Masters of Public Administration, a PhD in research and a Masters of Clinical Psychology. He is the Co-Chair of the national Equally Well Implementation Committee.

With state, national and international awards in E-mental health Russell has over two decades of experience in developing, implementing and consolidating new and innovative health services across a range of complex environments and is referenced as one of the 50 most influential rural Australians. He has led the development of a number of innovative, programs such as the Mental Health Emergency Care Rural Access Program, the Mental Health Rural Outreach Service, and the Aboriginal Workforce Development Program.

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Panel Members

Dr Petrina Barson

Dr Petrina Barson is a General Practitioner and an Honorary Fellow in the Department of General Practice at the University of Melbourne.

She is a certified teacher of the Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) originating at Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education. She has been teaching CCT to medical students at the University of Melbourne since 2014 and is currently researching mental health outcomes of this teaching.

Petrina is committed to education that promotes human flourishing and connection with a sense of meaning in employment and higher education.

Dr Petrina Barson

Dr Benjamin Veness

Benjamin Veness, a doctor currently training in psychiatry in Melbourne, was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to investigate student mental health interventions and services overseas.

His Fellowship involved travel to the USA, Canada, UK, China and Singapore, and culminated in the publication of his report, ‘The Wicked Problem of University Student Mental Health’.

Dr Veness also has experience as a member of the governing body of a large Australian university, having served two terms as a Fellow of Senate of The University of Sydney.

Twitter: @venessb

Dr Benjamin Veness

Stay tuned as we'll add more panel members here soon.