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ACMHN's 38th International Mental Health Nursing Conference
The Fabric of Life


3-5 October 2012, Darwin Convention Centre, Darwin


The Fabric of Life reflects the historical, cultural and social significance of fabrics in the region, for Indigenous as well as non-Indigenous Australians and for people from across the Asia Pacific. Throughout the world and throughout history, fabric has had a defining place in society and cultural identity. It is both literally and figuratively part of every person's life from the new born baby's bunny rug to the funeral shroud. 


Speakers and delegates were invited to consider the significance of mental health and mental health nursing in the construction of individual and social narratives as they relate to the theme...there were so many connections to explore here e.g. how we weave person centred care into our work; the detailed tapestry that is mental health, physical health and wellbeing; exploration of the patterns of life in our work with people who are vulnerable. The theme provided opportunity for speakers to address a wide range of mental health issues. 


Even in our modern world, where we often lose touch with the origins and manufacture of materials, the English language is rich in phrases and metaphors drawn from the world of fabric. We catch shuttle services as we commute to and from work. We're on tenterhooks to cotton on to the latest on the web - we're wrapt in it! We may be dyed-in-the-wool optimists, but we all know a thing or two about the seamy side of life - and it's all part of life's rich tapestry. Networking is a big part of our working lives, too. Sometimes we lose the thread and our thoughts go wool-gathering; but whatever the situation a mental health nurse can always spin a good yarn! 



Keynote speakers

Dr Edward White - Director of Osman Consulting


Professor Alan Simpson -  Professor of Collaborative Mental Health Nursing in the School of Health Sciences, City University London


Professor Nicholas Procter - Chair: Mental Health Nursing and Convenor of the Human Rights and Security Research and Innovation Cluster of the University of South Australia.


Mary O'Hagan - Consumer advocate


Pimpimon Wongchaiya - Deputy director (Academic affairs), Boromrajonani College of Nursing, Phayao




Click here to download a copy of the program from the 2012 Conference. 




MHN of the Year

MHN of the Year

The Board of Directors of the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses (ACMHN) congratulates Tom Ryan for winning the Mental Health Nurse of the Year Award. The award recognises Tom’s leadership in mental health nursing and his pioneering work in building the dialogue of clinical supervision and psychotherapy in mental health nursing.

Partnerships in Wellbeing

Partnerships in Wellbeing

The Australian College of Mental Health Nurses (ACMHN) and pharmaceutical company Lilly have awarded ROAM Communities Clubhouse Project the major Partnerships in Wellbeing Award for 2012. ROAM Communities, established in 2005, is a not-for-profit mental health nursing charity dedicated to helping people recover social and emotional wellbeing in the community, avoiding hospitals and homelessness.

Some guests from the Pacific Region

Some guests from the Pacific Region

This year, the College received funding from AusAid to bring four delegates from the Pacific Region to the Conference. The women, from PNG, Samoa, Kiribati and Fiji, shared their experiences of mental health nursing in their home countries and learnt about mental health nursing from the Australian perspective.

A collaborative art project

A collaborative art project

Artists from the Larrakia Nation were invited to render their artistic interpretation of the College's logo, with help from Conference delegates. The result was an amazing collaborative piece.

The Fabric of Life

The Fabric of Life

Darwin played host to a most successful Conference!

College merch under the spotlight

College merch under the spotlight

Diners danced the night away at the Annual Dinner held during the Conference!

Other award winners

The Research Award



Research Award winners

John Hurley and Paul Lindsey

Realistic evaluation of nurse-led services within Scottish Police holiding cells


Research Award runners-up

Mike Hazelton

Mental health in comprehensive nursing education: is the fabric really that threadbare?


Fiona Gosling

Weaving mental health into the fabric of the courts


Stan Alchin Award winner

Scott Trueman

Engaging Aboriginal clients in remote mental health services; who assesses the assessor? It's a foreign experience for most


Stan Alchin Award runners-up

Nadia de Vecchi 

Introducing art therapy into psychiatric rehabilitation in rural Australia: a reflective description


Melissa Walker

Understanding Indigenous women's social and emotional wellbeing and wellness program development in conjunction with ATSI women


Poster award winner

Vicki Hutchinson

A mental health professional's personal experience of suicide




Opening ceremony

Welcome reception



Conference dinner


On Facebook? See the full Conference photo album on the College's Facebook page at





What delegates said about the Conference

"The conference was great. There were many networking opportunities and I felt welcomed by the local nurses. This was one of the most memorable conferences I have ever attended" - Brett, Victoria


"It’s a great opportunity to see some of the new developments. You tend to get a bit stuck in a rut and this is a way of getting us to think about what’s happening" - Mel, Gold Coast


"The conference refills your enthusiasm for nursing and mental health" - Sue, Gold Coast


"I enjoyed the whole experience of meeting all these experienced people and networking with international people. I have a lot of connections now" - Justin, Melbourne


"Where I work is geographically isolated so the opportunity to be with my fellow nurses and share this time with my colleagues, network and learn is great. It helps me avoid the professional isolation that can occur" - Danny, East Arnhem


"The keynote speakers were interesting and it was great the way that the sessions were setout" - Donna, Gold Coast



Sponsors and Exhibitors
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