We are thrilled to congratulate Prof Frank Oberklaid on being awarded Victoria’s Senior Australian of the Year 2023 — for his internationally recognised career in children’s health and development — and for his nomination for Senior Australian of the Year 2023.
Prof Oberklaid founded and led the Centre for Community Child Health for over 25 years. During, and since this time, Prof Oberklaid has dedicated his efforts to improving the lives of children. Prof Oberklaid’s commitment to research and evidence-informed policy and practice has formed the basis of the Centre’s credibility and achievements. His conviction, drive, passion and tireless advocacy have led to incredible advances in children’s health and development, and in recent years children’s mental health and wellbeing.
Prof Oberklaid is the Project Director of the Mental Health in Primary Schools project (MHiPS), a whole-of-school program that upskills experienced teachers to become Mental Health and Wellbeing Leaders and increases the capacity of Victorian primary schools to support the mental health and wellbeing of their students.
The program, initially piloted in 100 schools with great success, is set to expand to every government and low-fee non-government primary school in the Victoria by 2026. This history-making project has harnessed the largest amount of funding ever pledged for student mental health in Australia.
For many years Prof Oberklaid has advocated to address challenges in children’s mental health terminology. Based on recommendations from the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, Prof Oberklaid led a project to develop the Children’s Wellbeing Continuum — a tool to support conversations about children’s mental health. By enabling parents, teachers and children to more easily discuss and reflect on wellbeing, the Continuum can support health literacy and early identification and action when children are struggling.
The Centre for Community Child Health is incredibly proud of and inspired by the work and legacy of Prof Frank Oberklaid. We congratulate Frank on being awarded Victoria’s Senior Australian of the Year 2023 and for his nomination for Australian of the Year 2023.