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The Speakers


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Panel Highlight:

'Breaking the trends: Addressing mental health and suicide amongst boys and young men in Australia'


Suicide has been a leading cause of death for young men for over a decade with the number reaching 3,024 in Australia during 2020-21. Suicide and self-inflicted injuries, alcohol use disorders and depressive disorders are the top three leading causes of total burden of disease amongst young men (aged 15-24). Psychological distress and mental health conditions contribute to the greatest burden of disease for young people in Australia. So how can we get it right for boys and young men?


This panel discussion will bring together a range of panellists to explore what good mental health support and suicide prevention looks like for young men. The panel discussion will look at this topic for young men from all parts of our community including young men from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young men, and LGBTIQA+ young men.

Panel Members:

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Wathnak Vy - Member of SA suicide prevention council and counsellor/psychotherapist who has extensive experience working with culturally and linguistically diverse communities in Australia and communities in Cambodia. 


Aston Hawkins-Nicholls - 2023 UNICEF Australia Young Ambassador (working in the area of Digital Safety) and a member of the LGBTQIA+ Ministerial Council in South Australia.

Don't miss out on this informative panel, currently scheduled for Friday 10th November at 1.00pm.

More exciting speakers to come!
Watch this space for announcements.

Professor Gerry Redmond

Gerry is a Professor in public policy at the College of Business, Government and Law, Flinders University, where he has worked since 2012. Prior to that he worked at University of NSW, UNICEF and the University of Cambridge, UK.


His academic training is in sociological and social policy research and involves both qualitative and quantitative analysis children’s and young people’s well-being in Australia and in other countries.


His research aims to privilege the perspectives of marginalised young people, how they negotiate challenges in their lives, and how these challenges impact their wellbeing, development and life chances.

He has a strong interest in research engagement with policymakers and advocacy groups, and in knowledge translation of academic research. He is currently leading two Australian Research Council Discovery Projects, on social exclusion and wellbeing in adolescence, and on the opportunities that young people with disability and young carers can access, and the contributions they make to Australian society.

His aim in both these projects is to draw attention to the wide range of economic, societal and policy factors that influence young people’s life chances in Australia and in other countries, and how they respond to the challenges they face.

Imogen Kane

Imogen is a gender and youth advocate who promotes quality holistic education as the key to addressing gender inequality, societal divisions and youth issues. Imogen has experience working with diverse domestic and international teams in the field of development, education and gender research.


Imogen is studying a Master of International Relations (specialising in Gender, Peace and Security) and has a Bachelor of Global Studies (specialising in International Relations) from Monash University.


She is passionate about the cross-cutting issues of gender in international relations, and the role and representation of youth perspectives in global forums. Imogen is currently the Impact Coordinator at the Cotton On Foundation, working in the projects team to measure the impact of holistic education, mental health and environment projects in Australia, Uganda, South Africa and Thailand.

She has been involved in multiple publications including ‘Six Months Later’, a Monash Gender Peace and Security Centre collection of research essays put together by young women from Australia and Afghanistan. Imogen has convened Model UN conferences, led overseas delegations and competed on behalf of Monash University and Australia more broadly, receiving multiple international recognitions.


Imogen is passionate about teaching Model UN skills and giving students the opportunity to provide policy solutions and youth perspectives on global issues and make connections with other young people from around the world. 

Associate Professor Becky Freeman

Becky is an established global authority on the potential of the Internet to circumvent tobacco-advertising bans and enhance tobacco control efforts.


As part of the Prevention Research Collaboration, University of Sydney, she leads a program of research focused on countering the commercial determinants of health, including tobacco, e-cigarettes, and processed food.


She has pioneered methods in monitoring and systematically analysing social media content. Freeman’s research exposing tobacco industry advertising and promotion on social media in the face of comprehensive advertising bans has led to regulation and policy changes in Australia, and internationally, to ensure tobacco control laws capture innovations in media platforms.

She is a frequent commentator in the news media on tobacco control topics and the health impacts of advertising. She is the Chief Investigator of the Generation Vape research study.

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Professor Susan Sawyer AM

Susan is Director of the RCH Centre for Adolescent. She holds the Geoff and Helen Handbury Chair of Adolescent Health, Department of Paediatrics, The University of Melbourne and is a senior researcher at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.


Susan’s clinical, research and advocacy efforts have helped to develop the field of adolescent health and medicine in Australia, our region and internationally.


Susan is the immediate past president of the International Association for Adolescent Health (president, 2017-21), chair of the International Pediatric Association special advisory group on Adolescent Medicine (2021-), chair of the Australian Network of WHO Collaborating Centres (2019-), and chair of the Victorian Government’s Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer committee (2009-).

Gerry Anchor
Imogen Anchor
Becky Anchor
Susan Anchor
Vy Wathnak
Vy Wathnak

Wathnak is a certified counsellor and clinical psychotherapist who holds accreditation and registration with the Australian Counselling Association (ACA). He serves as a private holistic clinician at Salisbury Counselling, an international mental health counselling service based in Adelaide, Australia. Being the inaugural registered ACA counsellor who speaks Khmer and a psychotherapist in Australia, Wathnak boasts extensive experience in delivering clinical services to individuals from diverse backgrounds, particularly culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities.

He graduated from esteemed institutions, including the University of Adelaide (UOA) and Torrens University (TU) in Australia. Wathnak is a staunch advocate for employing evidence-based treatments to provide counselling services to his clients. To ensure high-quality counselling, Wathnak uses a variety of approaches, including person-centred therapy, motivational interviewing, solution-focused therapy, and cognitive behaviour therapy.

With a background in anthropology, Wathnak perceives counselling as more than mere verbal interaction; he aims to delve into the core issues, encourage clients to share openly, and explore alternate solutions. He is skilled in offering group counselling, couple counselling, and family therapy utilising reflective practices. Wathnak places strong emphasis on continuous learning and lifelong education.

Presently, Wathnak is transforming the lives of numerous community members in Australia through in-person and online counselling. He also delivers public talks, conducts workshops, and volunteers for 'Untangle: A Mental Health Project,' a grassroots initiative in Cambodia. He continues to inspire diverse young individuals in Australia and Cambodia on the subject of mental health.

In the realm of Mental Health, Wathnak received several accolades, including the 2021 Australian Day Leadership in Languages and Cultures Award, the 2021 Young Citizen of The Year award, and the prestigious 2020 Mental Health Youth of The Year award.

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Zara Boulton

Zara Boulton is a researcher and Gender Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Advisor at the Telethon Kids Institute, before which they completed an Honours degree in Psychology. Zara provides support across multiple research projects, including research papers, research translation material, and government reports.


Employing data from the Wellbeing and Engagement Collection (WEC), one of the largest population monitoring systems of child and adolescent wellbeing in the world, Zara’s leading research aims to identify and address health and wellbeing inequities among trans school students, by exploring population-level outcomes among more than 65,000 cisgender and trans children and young people.


Zara’s additional research contributions include screen time in early childhood, breakfast and nutrition in childhood and adolescence, and population-level mental health, school engagement, and academic outcomes among school students. Broadly, their interests focus primarily on identifying, understanding, and addressing unique and complex inequalities among varying populations

Aston Hawkins-Nicholls

Aston is a dedicated activist and advocate, deeply committed to championing causes which are close to their heart. Aston is a 2023 UNICEF Australia Young Ambassador (working in the area of Digital Safety) and a member of the LGBTQIA+ Ministerial Council in South Australia.

Dr Sally Gibson

Dr Sally Gibson is an Assistant Director in the Engagement and Wellbeing team of the SA Dept for Education.


As part of this role she leads the policy response for  the inclusion and support of LGBQTIA+ students in South Australian schools. 


Sally was previously the Manager for Youth Health and Wellbeing for NSW Health. Her PhD  completed at the University of Adelaide in 2010 was on the moral panics associated with sexuality education in schools.

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Sally Gibson
Semara Jose

Semara Jose, a proud Gudjula, Eastern-Kuku Yalanji, and Darnley Island woman from Cairns (Gimuy), is a dynamic young leader dedicated to empowering her community.


She co-founded and leads Deadly Inspiring Youth Doing Good (DIYDG), an Indigenous organization in Far North Queensland, focusing on leadership, well-being, and culture for youth and families.

Semara's visionary leadership inspires others to follow their dreams, especially young people, whom she considers natural leaders and change agents. She is committed to nurturing their potential and advocating for youth voices in decision-making. She's facilitated youth contributions to initiatives such as Wiyi Yani U Thangari – Women’s Voices Youth Forum, NACCHO Youth Conference, and the Queensland Government Youth Strategy.

Semara Jose's tireless dedication and visionary leadership continue to drive positive change in her community and beyond.

Semara Jose
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2024 Youth Health Conference


2024 Youth Health Conference theme: Connecting to Our Future

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