Making mental health everyone’s business, an update on the Campus Mental Health Strategy



The Melbourne Children’s Campus (the Campus) has the culture and expertise to provide our infants, children and young people, and their families with world class mental health care (The RCH), built on sound evidence (MCRI), and workforce training and education (University of Melbourne, Department of Paediatrics). The integration of mental health research, education and care across the Campus underpins the Campus Mental Health Strategy (Strategy), a five-year Strategy that has been funded for the first 2 years by The RCH Foundation. A team of 14 people will lead and implement the Strategy, supported by many leaders and staff from across the Campus.

This Grand Round will provide an update on the progress in the Strategy as we head into year 2, as well as bring the vision of the Strategy to life. How will the journey and outcomes for children and their families be different because of the Strategy? How will the skills and experiences of staff be strengthened by the Strategy? And what will be different across the Campus in 5 years’ time? And perhaps even more importantly how can you get involved and be part of the Strategy journey?

The Grand Round will outline how the Strategy and the RCH Mental Health Transformation Program (Royal Commission) are working closely together for generational change across the spectrum of mental health and wellbeing.



Associate Professor Tom Connell Chief of Medicine, Executive Sponsor, Campus Mental Health Strategy.

Tom is a General Paediatrician and Chief of Medicine at The Royal Children’s Hospital. Tom provides medical leadership for Heads of Department and their staff in over 20 departments within the Division of Medicine and five inpatient medical wards. As one of the Executive Sponsors of the Strategy he is also actively involved with the work of the Mental Health Transformation team at RCH relating to the recommendations of the Royal Commission. He is highly committed in ensuring successful delivery of the Strategy and is strongly motivated to improve the MH care he delivers to patients and families. Tom graduated from University College Dublin in 1996, received Membership of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland in 1999 and Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians in 2010. In 2021, he completed fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Medical Administrators (FRACMA). Tom is an honorary Principal Fellow within The University of Melbourne, Department of Paediatrics.

Professor Harriet Hiscock: Director, RCH Health Services Unit and co-Group leader, Health Services and Economics, MCRI. Chair, Strategy Steering Committee.  Harriet has 20 years of experience in developing, trialling, and translating interventions to address common health issues. Her work focuses on developing and trialling models to keep children out of hospital, reduce low value care, and improve access to and quality of care, especially mental health care. She is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences and has received state and national awards for her collaborative, translational research.

Belinda Horton: Program Director, Campus Mental Health Strategy, RCH. Belinda joined MCRI in October 2019 to work with the team to develop the Strategy and is now with RCH to oversee its implementation over the next two years. Belinda is a Mental Health Occupational Therapist with extensive experience in mental health care, organisational development, and quality improvement. After ten years as CEO of PANDA, Belinda undertook a range of service development project roles in public and community health and completed her MBA. She became a Fellow with the Institute of Managers and Leaders and a Chartered Manager with the UK Institute of Chartered Managers. Belinda continues to work as a Mental Health Occupational Therapist in a perinatal mental health private practice.

Emily Unity: Senior Project Officer Lived Experience, Campus Mental Health Strategy, RCH. Emily (they/them) is a lived and living experience professional with a diverse portfolio focusing on intersectional experiences. They have worked with a variety of organisations, including Orygen, the National Mental Health Commission, Lived Experience Australia, headspace and Beyond Blue. In their work, Emily has identified, created, and facilitated opportunities for meaningful lived experience engagement to help design a future for all people, regardless of background, identity, or intersectionality, ensuring that there is “nothing about us, without us”. Emily grounds their professional work in their personal lived experience of mental health challenges, homelessness, suicide, young carer, LGBTIQA+, having a disability, and being from a refugee and migrant background.

Professor Amanda Wood: Research Lead, Campus Mental Health Strategy, MCRI. Amanda is a clinician scientist with expertise in mapping early life brain insults with quantitative imaging and characterising long term cognitive and mental health outcomes in children with early neurodevelopmental adversity. Her ongoing research explores predictive models of outcomes in children at risk of mental health and cognitive difficulties following prenatal medicine exposures or early life brain insults. She joins the Strategy Implementation Team following a decade of work in Birmingham, UK, where she was Director of the Institute of Health and Neurodevelopment at Aston University. She also works at RCH as a psychologist in the neonatal neurodevelopment follow up service.

Associate Professor Femke Buisman-Pijlman: Academic Lead, Campus Mental Health Strategy, University of Melbourne. Femke is a global leader in health education and has a double appointment at the Department of Paediatrics and the Melbourne School of Professional and Continuing Education at the University of Melbourne. She leads the educational components of the Strategy with stakeholders including clinicians and people with lived experience. Femke will lead the development of educational resources that increase knowledge, competence, and confidence in health professional’s ability to discuss and manage mental health problems across the Campus.

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