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First Nations researcher named winner of Mental Health Prize

Professor Helen Milroy

By Juliano Oliveira

Professor Helen Milroy, the first Indigenous Australian to become a medical doctor, has been named joint winner of the 2020 Australian Mental Health Prize.

The award recognises members of the community who stand out for their commitment to promoting or preventing and treating mental health problems.

The First Nations psychiatrist and researcher shared the honour with the leading psychiatrist and founder of the Black Dog Institute, Professor Gordon Parker.


Professor Milroy is a descendant of the Palyku people of the Pilbara region. She studied medicine at The University of Western Australia where currently lectures psychiatry. Among her professional experiences are GP and specialist training in child and adolescent psychiatry.

Ms Milroy is the co-director of the Embrace project and an Honorary Research Fellow at the Telethon Kids Institute, she is Stan Perron Chair of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Perth Children’s Hospital and UWA.

She is also a Commissioner with the National Mental Health Commission, a Commissioner with the Australian Football League, and from 2013-2017 was a Commissioner for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

The work developed by Professor Milroy is focused on child mental health, recovery from trauma and grief, Aboriginal mental health, and cultural models of care.

“Children are no more immune to mental health challenges than the rest of society, yet they are easily overlooked or thought to be resilient.

“I am hoping that through this award, we can shine a light on children’s mental health and provide whatever it takes to bring about their wellbeing and that of their families and communities.”

The Australian Mental Health Prize was established in 2016 by UNSW through its School of Psychiatry. It recognises Australians who have made outstanding contributions to either the promotion of mental health or the prevention/treatment of mental illness.

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