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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

My trip to Australia

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Last week, I travelled to Australia for the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) Faculty of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Forensic Mental Health conference. It's really hard to take in the vastness of Australia. For more than three hours flying over the country, all you see is ‘red’ earth down below.

Together with clinical nurse specialist from our community adolescent forensic team, I managed to visit and meet with a wide range of professionals in Melbourne and Sydney who dedicate themselves to the care and treatment of young people who have mental illness and offend.

Understanding the challenges for indigenous people in Australia was a sobering experience. I’m a trustee of a charity called the International Institute on Special Needs Offenders, and had previously met and learnt from indigenous communities when attending conferences in Toronto and Kenya.

In Melbourne I met with Andrew Peters, Chief Executive Officer and Company Secretary of the RANZCP, and in Sydney I met with their chair of their Child and Adolescent Faculty. We now have a number of clear ideas about shared initiatives.

The challenges facing the profession in Australia and New Zealand are similar to our own – particularly the need to raise the profile of the profession. We now have scope to increase joint working between the RCPsych and RANZCP, in addition to our current shared CPD activities. The RANZCP President, Dr Maria Tomasic, will be attending our International Congress in Liverpool next year.

Last week’s conference was a good opportunity to meet with psychiatrists and nurses from the UK who had made the leap to work and settle in Australia and New Zealand, and to see them leading teams and innovating. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I also met with Dr David Shiers, from the UK, and his colleagues from Sydney. We now have a commitment to working together on an initiative to improve the physical health of those with mental illness.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to Dr Bob Adler, Dr Scott Harden, Dr Claire Gaskin and all the staff at the RANZCP for being so welcoming, and enabling us to see and learn so much in a short time.

I’ve brought back many fond memories of Australia. I also brought back a cuddly kangaroo, which my youngest grandson has been grinning at. My older grandson was more impressed that I travelled on Etihad Airways, the sponsors of Man City!

I’m very much looking forward to the RCPsych Awards ceremony that takes place this afternoon, as well as meeting colleagues from the South West Division later in the week. I’ll blog about both these events soon.



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