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About the award

Mental Health is a priority area for the NSW Government, with over two in five (43.7%) Australians aged 16-85 experiencing a mental illness at some time in their life*.

This award recognises and showcases work in improving the quality and safety of mental health patient care within programs and services which display:

  • best practice, excellence, and innovation in mental health service delivery
  • development of consumer-focused services
  • positive mental health and wellbeing through consumer and carer participation
  • strengthened prevention and early intervention
  • community-based care practices, striking a better balance between care provided in hospitals, and that provided in the community
  • integration between mental health and other providers including justice and human services.

*Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2022). National Study of Mental Health and Wellbeing.

Winner – Naamuru: NSW’s first public parent and baby unit

Sydney Local Health District


Naamuru is a purpose-built mental health unit at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney. It is the first public mental health unit in NSW that offers parent-baby admissions for parents experiencing acute mental health illness during the perinatal period (before, during, and after birth). It is also the first in the world to offer non-gender specific care and treatment.

Previously, parents experiencing moderate and severe mental illness were separated from their baby to receive treatment in public acute mental health units. However, at Naamuru, the parent and their baby are admitted together. This provides more opportunity for healthy attachment and minimises the trauma of separation. Partners or other support people are encouraged to stay overnight to support the care-giving and parent-baby relationship.

Naamuru was established in June 2022 after an extensive period of co-design with consumers with lived experience, local Aboriginal community, and the complex network of health professionals delivering perinatal care.

In the first 12 months of operation, parents admitted to the unit have reported:

  • significant decreases in distress (Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale),
  • increases in attachment quality (Maternal Postnatal Attachment Scale),
  • increases in parenting confidence and feelings of affection towards infants (Karitane Parenting Confidence Scale),
  • overwhelmingly positive feedback in relation to the unit environment, interactions with staff, treatment received and baby care.

Finalist – Teen Got It! Adolescent Mental Health Early Intervention

Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health Network


Teen Got It! is the only adolescent and carer focused group intervention for disruptive behaviour disorders (DBDs) in NSW.

The program targets at-risk young people who present with DBDs. The aim is to intervene early and change their trajectory and reduce the likelihood of entering the criminal justice system.

The Teen Got It! program has created two different therapy programs to tackle the complex changes related to mental health issues, childhood trauma and/or cognitive impairment. These programs aim to improve the ability to handle stress, enhance parenting skills, and improve relationships and behaviours.

These include:

  1. School-based therapeutic group program: a 15-week structured group therapy program for adolescents and families, undertaken in selected schools.
  2. Statewide personalised telehealth therapeutic program: a 5-week telehealth program designed for adolescents and families, created in response to COVID-19.

Since 2019, 122 participants have completed the program with overwhelmingly positive feedback. Adolescents noted improvements in:

  • pro-social behaviours,
  • ability to regulate emotions and
  • engagement with community healthcare.

Caregivers said the program helped them personally and they felt better able to cope.

The Teen Got It! program has shown great success in dealing with families in crisis, leveraging greater family engagement and supporting adolescent mental health to prevent contact with the criminal justice system.

Finalist – No Suppression Group

Northern Sydney Local Health District


The No Suppression Group brings together people with lived experience of mental health issues to share their creativity and build social connections.

The idea for the peer-run group came from North Shore Ryde Mental Health after hearing from people who use mental health services. Music, poetry, art, and comedy were important to these consumers, but they didn't have a platform to share their creative work.

Research shows that taking part in artistic endeavours can be an important part of recovery and achieving a full life for people with mental health issues.

No Suppression aims to provide a safe, encouraging space for people to share and celebrate creativity. It also enables people to socialise and develop community connections.

The community-focused group is the only service of its kind in NSW. Since its inception in 2011, more than 150 people have attended the monthly sessions. They recently introduced the option to participate online (via Zoom). This has opened the door to participation by people who can't attend face-to-face. Workplace flexibility allows the group to meet monthly on a Saturday. This best suits the clients' needs, and clinicians report fewer weekend calls are made to services by participants.

Finalist – Specialist Mental Health Services for Children in Out of Home Care

South Western Sydney Local Health District


The Out of Home Care (OOHC) program is a tier 4 specialist mental health services for children in out of home care across NSW. The two main components of this project (OOHC mental health team, Ingleburn and Elver program, Parramatta) were developed through a partnership between SWSLHD and Department of Community and Justice (DCJ). This partnership is the first of its kind in Australia and supports those children with extreme vulnerabilities and historically poor outcomes.

OOHC is a significant risk factor; with children in OOHC over 5 times more likely to develop mental health concerns and historically have had poor and fragmented access to specialist mental health care. The OOHC programs commenced in 2017-2018 and operate as a multidisciplinary team of eighteen staff across SWSLHD and NSW in the two sites. The teams focus on children in OOHC with highest acuity, risk and need for services. The programs have been very successful with proven outcomes, providing outreach across NSW to children located in both rural, suburban and urban regions. Together these programs have provided high quality, coordinated mental health care in partnership with DCJ to over 500 of the extremely vulnerable and disadvantaged children in OOHC across NSW.

Highlights from these program partnerships include:

  • A significant reduction in emergency department presentations and reduced pressure on hospital beds
  • A significant reduction in admissions to mental health units and a reduced burden on local CAMH services
  • A significant reduction in self-harm incidents in these children
  • A demonstrated significant reduction in psychopathology and improvement in functioning of these children
  • Four high quality research publications which have demonstrated the various components of above.
Current as at: Tuesday 24 October 2023
Contact page owner: NSW Health