Young People

Following the sun: shining the light on Aboriginal mental health 3 March 2021

Youth Health Forums (YHFs) are stimulating, half-day forums that cover a wide range of adolescent health and wellbeing issues, appealing to health, education, community, welfare professionals and students. The Forum provides an opportunity for attendees to meet, update knowledge and skills, exchange information and strengthen the youth health network, in order to provide the best possible support for young people in NSW.

Although it’s challenging to host face to face meetings at this unusual time, the YHF Organising Committee recognises the value of extending YHFs to those working with young people both in Sydney and rural and regional areas; the scheduled March 2021 Forum will once again be live streamed to individuals to keep everyone safe. Note that there will be no video conferences held at the usual rural and regional sites.

Cost: Free of charge

When and where
Date:  3 March 2021
Time: 9am -12.30pm (AEST)

Where: live streamed to where you are

Live Stream details (including technical difficulty issues)

To watch the live event go to:  

  • Remember to add this to your calendar, no password is required
  • Ensure you have up to date browser installed for example Chrome, Firefox, or Safari
  • Check out page 2 of the attached program and the streaming tips if you encounter technical difficulty on the Forum day

RSVP: Register by close of business 26 February 2021 to receive a reminder email (registration is optional)

Direct questions to Forum speakers during the live stream

  • Text questions to 0452 378 112 stating location and question. For example “[Dubbo], my Q to Speaker A is….”
  • For technical difficulty on the Forum day, please refer to live stream details above (this mobile number will not be able to respond to technical issues)

Forum’s speaker notes

The speakers’ presentations will be available on the NSW Health website ( within two weeks of the Forum (search for ‘Youth Health Forum’) , or go to:

Forum’s evaluation

Program includes presentations on:

This forum will be chaired by Ms Kerry Smith, Aboriginal Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service Priority Advisor, Mental Health – Children and Young People, NSW Ministry of Health

  • Welcome to Country: Auntie Yvonne Weldon, Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council
  • Truth for Youth – what they’re teaching us – what we are learning: Emeritus Professor Judy Atkinson AM, Patron We Al-li
  • Working with Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs) to understand the health of Aboriginal young people: Ms Kezia Aurora Blackledge, Public Health and Intelligence Officer; Miss Shana Quayle, Sector Support Unit Manager; Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council (AH&MRC) 
  • Staying Connected in the Outback: Ms Corina Kemp, Aboriginal Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol (MHDA) Clinical Leader; Mr Zacariah Henderson, Aboriginal MHDA Trainee; Far West MHDA Service, Far West Local Health District 
  • Mental health habits and rituals:  Mr Jeffrey Morgan, Nutritionist/Health & Wellbeing Consultant and Owner, The Lifestyle Program   
  • Voice of youth: young people
  • Panel discussion: Panel will include all program speakers

Please see the attached program for more details.

Don’t miss this forum and let your networks know

Hope you can join us on the Forum day! Please feel free to pass this onto your colleagues and networks.

Young People

In recent times NSW has experienced prolonged drought, an unprecedented bushfire season and floods. These disasters have directly or indirectly impacted hundreds of thousands of children and young people across NSW.

The Office of the Advocate for Children and Young People went to disaster affected areas of NSW and spoke directly to more than 400 children and young people face-to-face about their experiences of disaster. This was followed up with quantitative polling of a further 1,000 children and young people.

The combined results of this research informed the development of the Children and Young People’s Experience of Disaster Report.

A report like this would not have been possible without the support of both the Hon. Gareth Ward MP, Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services and the Hon. Bronnie Taylor MLC, Minister for Mental Health, Regional Youth and Women. We also appreciate the support given by the many government departments, organisations and service providers. We want to thank the 1,400 children and young people who gave their time, offered insight and shared their personal experiences on this topic.

This report gave children and young people a platform to inform decision makers and service providers about how to best continue to support their needs before, during and after a disaster.

The report also highlights the ways in which children and young people want to be included in the planning and implementation of solutions that relate to disaster preparedness and recovery as well as how to further support them now and into the future.

Underpinning this is the development of a Disaster Resilience Framework for children and young people.

Some of the key findings in the report include:

  • disasters and the life changes that follow have significant impacts on mental health and wellbeing
  • the destruction and damage caused to schools affects access to education, engagement, learning and academic achievement
  • disasters can impact the housing stability of children and young people including damage to homes and farms as well as displacement and relocation
  • disasters can create youth unemployment and heavy workloads for children and young people affected by drought and other social and economic issues
  • children and young people can feel invisible, forgotten and unable to influence the world around them, they wish to have a voice and be involved in disaster recovery
  • connection to land and community were raised as important concerns.

Click here to learn more and access the report.

We look forward to working with many of you so that we can heed the voices gathered in this report and implement the recommendations that have been so generously offered by children and young people.


Zoë Robinson
A/Advocate for Children and Young People Office of the Advocate for Children & Young People
Ground Floor, 219-241 Cleveland Street
Strawberry Hills, NSW 2012