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welcome from the president
August 2014

It is wonderful to be able to welcome the whole community to a new world of mental health research across Australia, New Zealand and beyond.  Building on the original vision of our founders and the outstanding scientific achievements of the Australasian Society for Psychiatric Research since 1977, we have democratically adopted a new name - the Society for Mental Health Research (SMHR) – and repurposed the organisation for the 21st Century.  Australasian mental health researchers have punched above their weight for many years in comparison to researchers in other medical research domains and other countries however we are not operating on a level playing field.  In funding terms mental health research is doubly disadvantaged receiving a much lower percentage than burden of disease data would justify from both government and philanthropic/corporate sources.  Central to the mission of SMHR will be to achieve a fair deal and parity for mental health research.  SMHR as the umbrella organisation for mental health research in Australia and New Zealand aims to expand its membership and will be taking on new roles notably advocacy, fundraising and the distribution of fellowships and grants.
The catalyst for these timely changes which was the decision of the ABC to respond positively to our proposal in 2013 to host a national telethon to raise funds for mental health research.  This was based on the idea from David Bassanese who approached me as President of ASPR and realised with the support of Andrew Denton and the decisive vision of Mark Scott, Managing Director of the ABC, and his executive team.   The whole  of the ABC  has got solidly behind this over recent months and there is huge momentum for "Mental As…" which will be a whole week of themed mental health programs across all broadcast platforms.  The SMHR is now positioned as a health promoting charity and able to receive and distribute funds via grants to early career researchers.   We are extremely appreciative of the pro bono legal expertise of Alice MacDougall and Stephen Carlton of Herbert Smith Freehills, of the dynamic efforts of Carolyn McDonald who has project managed the whole process superbly.  This reform and regeneration would not have been possible without the commitment of the whole executive and the dedication and creativity of Jo Fitzsimons as executive officer and Frances Kay-Lambkin as Secretary.  This is hugely exciting phase for mental health research and growth in knowledge in our region and I encourage all researchers and those with an interest in mental health to engage with the Society.

Professor Patrick McGorry

President, SMHR

on behalf of the Executive Committee

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