BN Health Forum: Mental Healthcare - Navigating the Legal & Clinical Maze

event information
Thursday, 7 November 2019
Forum sessions: 3pm - 6pm I Drinks and canapes: 6pm - 9pm
GOMA Brisbane,  Stanley Place, South Brisbane

We’re bringing the BN Health Forum: Big Ideas for Health Professionals back for one final session in 2019. And this time we’re tackling the topic of mental health, with an impressive line-up of industry experts sharing their perspective on this important topic, meet our speakers below!

One in five Australians aged 16-85 experiences a mental illness in any given year and almost half will experience a mental illness at least once in their lifetime. The impact is enormous: besides the direct effects of illness, consequences can include unemployment, social isolation, dependency, violence and suicide. Significant resources are required for promoting the best possible mental health and wellbeing outcomes for patients, including delivery of acute, recovery and rehabilitation health services, trauma informed care, preventative and early intervention programs and privately delivered services.

So what are some of the challenges, opportunities and legal issues involved in the treatment of mental health patients? And what steps can we take to protect and support the mental wellbeing of our healthcare professionals, who can be exposed to stress, sadness and trauma in their day to day work?

BN’s Health Forum is a must-attend event for all professionals working in or alongside healthcare who want to stay up-to-date on the trends and issues affecting the sector. Each session is optional – attend all, or pick and choose. But be quick, registration is free of charge and places are limited.

Following the final session, attendees are invited to continue the conversation over drinks and canapes on the Pavilion Balcony.


  • Session 1: Legal Issues Arising in Mental Healthcare

    Presented by Scott Shelly and Lauren Rickersey

    Mental health can be challenging to treat, particularly when a patient presents with both physical and psychological symptoms, has a personality disorder or suffers from schizophrenia. General Practitioners need to deal with the intricacies of what is happening with their patient and whether they ought to refer them for specialist treatment, often within the confines of a short consultation. Hospitals must clearly understand when they can and can’t admit a patient for mental health care without their consent. And psychiatrists and other medical specialists are faced with choosing the right course of treatment for complex conditions often involving young and adolescent patients. What could possibly go wrong?

    In our first session we are joined by BN’s own Scott Shelly and Lauren Rickersey who explore the legal issues which arise when treating patients who have a mental illness, including the duty of care owed to them, when a medical specialist or hospital will be held liable, the operation of the mental health legislation in Australia and the treatment of involuntary patients.

  • Session 2: Mental Health Across the Age Spectrum

    Panel discussion moderated by BN's Melissa Carius, with panellists:

    • Dr Stephen Stathis, Medical Director at Child & Youth Mental Health Service
    • Julie Aganoff, Psychologist
    • Dr Maria Boulton, GP
    • Sandra Garner, Statewide Mental Health Coordinator for Queensland Ambulance Service

    Mental health doesn’t discriminate when it comes to age. Led by BN’s Melissa Carius, the panel will explore the common themes in treating young and old mental health patients, as well as the particular needs and issues of different age groups. Each panellist will bring a different perspective - from specialist care focussing on certain age groups, to the first response to acute incidents, to the provision of ongoing care in the community.

  • Session 3: Mental Health Stress & Resilience for Healthcare Professionals

    Keynote speaker Chelsea Pottenger

    Due to risk factors such as heavy workloads, long working hours, a high level of emotional involvement, shift work and potential exposure to violence, evidence suggests those in the healthcare industry are at an increased risk of experiencing some form of mental illness during their working life. This can have far-reaching effects – impacting not just the individual, but also their family, colleagues and patients.

    The stigma that surrounds mental health within Australia’s healthcare industry has deterred doctors, nursers and other healthcare and medical professionals from looking after their mental health – whether by taking steps to manage their work related stress, or seeking professional treatment.

    An ambassador for mental health charities including the Gidget Foundation and RUOK? our keynote speaker, Chelsea Pottenger, consults to various major corporations to help their employees develop resilience and manage stress. Chelsea will provide some practical strategies for mental health stress resilience, with a particular focus on the challenges faced by healthcare professionals.

Meet our speakers

  • Chelsea Pottenger

    Chelsea is an international conference speaker and a proud ambassador for mental health organisations including R U Ok? and the Gidget Foundation. As an ambassador, Chelsea's greatest passion is the development of mental resilience. Chelsea has commenced her studies towards a PhD in psychology, and she is in the unique position to have deep insight into brain science and a variety of topics including peak performance, mental resilience, productivity and longevity.

    For 12 years, Chelsea worked in the corporate world as a general manager until she encountered major life adversity. Following the birth of her daughter, Chelsea experience severe anxiety and post-natal depression. After her life reboot, she had a new-found insight, respect and empathy towards mental health and the power of our brains. Chelsea returned to university to study psychology and neuroscience, and became a mindfulness and meditation teacher She started her own company, EQ Consulting, as part of her mission to help others.

    Her clients range from the Big Four Banks, to tech companies like eBay and Uber, Estee Lauder and The Australian Defence Force, to name a few. She is regularly featured on sunrise, ABC, 2GB and Channel 9.

  • Dr Stephen Stathis

    Associate Professor Stephen Stathis is the Medical Director of Child and Youth Mental Health Services, Children’s Health Queensland. He has obtained a dual fellowship in paediatrics and psychiatry, with certificates in Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and Forensic Psychiatry. Stephen also acts as the Clinical Advisor to Queensland Health for child and youth mental health.

    Stephen has extensive experience working among vulnerable and marginalised young people within the community. For over eight years, he was member of the board of ACT for Kids, an Australian NGO that works to treat and prevent child abuse. He currently sits on the boards of YouthThrive and Bloom Asia. His clinical interests include ‘bridging the gap’ between paediatrics and psychiatry, mental health policy and strategic planning, gender dysphoria, consequences of early childhood trauma and abuse, and adolescent forensic psychiatry.

  • Dr Maria Boulton

    Dr Maria Boulton is a GP, company director, author, public speaker and mother of two. In 2016 together with Dr Fiona Raciti she founded the general practice clinic Family Doctors Plus with the vision to make a difference through positive heath promotion and regular education events. In 2017 Family Doctors Plus won the Telstra Queensland Business of the Year Award, a rare feat for a new business. In 2018 they were named one of the 100 faces of Small Business in Queensland. Maria and Fiona have taken full advantage of these awards to create positive changes in health care. They have met with both federal and state ministers to lobby for improvements in aged care. They hold regular education sessions for the local community such as puberty education for girls and boys, school readiness seminars and parenting workshops. They are also active fundraisers for Red Kite, Hummingbird House and Queensland Cancer Council.

    Maria was a finalist in the 2018 Brisbane Lord Mayor’s Business Awards in the Businessperson of the Year category and is an active and vocal member of the GP community. She is a current elected member of the Australian Medical Association and RACGP Qld Councils and Qld Medical Women’s Society and has a guest role on ABC Radio Brisbane.

  • Sandra Garner

    Sandra is a Registered Psychologist with over two decades of experience working in front line mental health services across community, forensic and acute settings; in clinical, management, service development and research capacities. Sandra has also worked in public health policy, workforce and leadership development roles within the public and non-government mental health sectors and continues to provide clinical leadership and service development support to numerous not for profit mental health service providers.

    For the Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) Sandra provides specialised and strategic mental health leadership and advice to paramedics and service managers, ensuring the delivery of coordinated, safe and contemporary pre-hospital care for people experiencing mental health crisis. Sandra leads the development, implementation and evaluation of a variety of initiatives to improve the delivery of mental health services provided by QAS. In 2019 these initiatives include a pilot of Mental Health Clinicians in the Communications Centre: providing access to meaningful and timely mental health information, advice and assistance to paramedics and Communications Centre staff in real time. In addition, the Mental Health Co-responders Program which sees practitioners working with on-road paramedics to respond to people experiencing a mental health crisis in their own homes. These initiatives, along with improvements to QAS paramedic education, training and support go towards reducing the anxiety and fear paramedics experience when responding to people in a mental health crisis in the community.

  • Julie Aganoff

    Julie Aganoff is a psychologist who in 2014 set up Change Futures, a registered charity staffed by psychologists who provide accessible mental health services to vulnerable members of the community as well as supporting the development of upcoming psychologists.

    One of the target groups identified in 2014 was people living in residential aged care who had limited access to mental health services. Change Futures worked pro bono for 18 months to develop a model of service and now delivers services to 48 residential aged care facilities from Kilcoy to Coffs Harbour in NSW. This is expected to increase to 200 facilities by 2022. Since commencing this work in 2015, Change Futures has provided 9,288 sessions to 1,238 residents and demonstrated significant improvements in the mental health of these residents.

    Julie has previously been the General Manager of Lifeline Brisbane, a board member of Lifeline Australia and the Director of Client Service Development for UnitingCare Community. As Director of Client Service Development, Julie was responsible for practice, learning, research, quality and standards across 300 programs. With degrees in psychology, health science and business, Julie brings a wealth of knowledge around service development and design, training and supervision, outcome measurement and partnership development.

  • Melissa Carius

    Melissa specialises in medical negligence claims, OHO and AHPRA matters, and Coronial investigations and inquests involving health care professionals. With her clients including hospitals, doctors, medical indemnity insurers and aged care providers, she regularly advises on complex liability, quantum and strategic issues. Melissa has a particular interest in the issues surrounding consent for medical treatment involving minors.

    Alongside her role as a Senior Associate in the Insurance & Health team, Melissa has become an integral member of BN’s training program for insurance professionals, Elevista. She has presented on issues relating to general legal principles and also specific to insurance.

  • Scott Shelly

    Scott is highly experienced in medical indemnity insurance and has represented major health care providers on direct instructions or through their relevant insurers and has acted for medical defence organisations.

    Scott has acted in numerous medical negligence claims against health care providers, hospitals and health practitioners including in wrongful birth claims and claims where the patient had a terminal condition as a result of the allegedly negligent treatment. He has also acted for, among other types of practitioners, rural general practitioners in AHPRA notifications and Health Complaints Commissioner complaints and provided risk management advice to health practitioners. He is currently completing a minor thesis on medical practitioners’ duty of confidentiality.

  • Lauren Rickersey

    As a Senior Associate in the BN Sydney Health Team, Lauren acts for both local and international insurers. Lauren has a proven track record and extensive experience in professional indemnity, medical malpractice and health law. She is highly experienced in defending medical negligence claims and representing dentists, doctors, pharmacists, cosmetic laser skin treatment professionals and allied health professionals in relation to both litigated proceedings and complaints made to a range of professional bodies and boards.

    Lauren is the direct point of contact for BN’s Dental Assistance Line, providing 24/7 legal advice to dentists. By spearheading this market leading value add offering, Lauren has assisted hundreds of dental professionals in minimising their exposure to professional risks.

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