Board members

Professor Diego de Leo (Chair), is Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention at Griffith University, Brisbane, which was designated as the National Centre of Excellence in Suicide Prevention in November 2008. At Griffith he also directs the World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Research and Training in Suicide Prevention, and the Life Promotion Clinic, a research facility that represents the only outpatient service in Australia dealing exclusively with suicidal clients. Since 2001, he is the director of the Master Courses in Suicidology. Professor de Leo is Past President of the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and co-founder and Past President of the International Academy for Suicide Research (IASR) of which he also co-founded the journal Archives of Suicide Research. Prof. De Leo has been the initiator of the World Suicide Prevention Day (2003). Member of the Editorial boards for several internationally renowned journals, he is the Editor-in-Chief of the journal CRISIS. Professor de Leo has published extensively with circa 300 peer-reviewed journal articles, 150 book chapters, 35 volumes, and over 200 conference presentations. Winner of several national and international awards, in 2007 he was given the title of Doctor of Science by Griffith University for his work on Suicide and Psychogeriatrics. On 26 January 2013 he received the title of Officer of the Order of Australia. His current research topics are diverse, and include definitional issues and data quality in suicide statistics, suicide in the mentally well, suicidal behavior across different cultures, and bereavement from suicide and other traumatic deaths.
photo-ian-websterEmeritus Professor Ian Webster AO (Vice Chair), is a physician and Emeritus Professor of Public Health and Community Medicine of the University of New South Wales and Patron of the Alcohol and other Drugs Council of Australia. He has held senior appointments in the Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales and had appointments at Monash, Sheffield and Sydney Universities. He was Chair of the Australian Suicide Prevention Advisory Council from 1998 to 2015 and is Chair of the Advisory Committee of the Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity, University of New South Wales, and immediate past President of the Governing Council of the Ted Noffs Foundation. He was Foundation Chair of the Foundation for Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation (AERF) now known as the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) and appointed by the Prime Minister as Commissioner on the National Mental Health Commission from 2012 to 2014). He chaired the NSW Ministerial Advisory Group on Alcohol and Drugs from 1999 to 2013 and was a member of an expert advisory committee to the NSW Law Reform Commission from 2011 to 2013. He has chaired a number of Commonwealth and State Government inquiries and reviews in disability, health, mental health and alcohol and other drug problems. He practises as a consultant physician in the Shoalhaven Area of NSW and has practised as a physician in Whyalla, South Australia, and in public hospitals in the UK and Australia. For thirty five years he has worked as a physician in free clinics for homeless people at the Matthew Talbot Hostel, Woolloomooloo, Sydney and the Exodus Foundation, Ashfield, Sydney. At the time of the Hawke Government, in 1985, he chaired the national consultation prior to the establishment of the National Campaign Against Drugs later to become the National Drug Strategy. He was interim Director of the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre in 1986-87. In 1992 he chaired the review of the National Campaign Against Drugs for the Commonwealth Government. His research and publications have been in medicine, community health, alcohol and other drug problems, mental health, homelessness and social issues. In June 1995 he was appointed as an Officer in the Order of Australia and in 2009 received the Prime Minister’s Award for outstanding work in the field of drugs and alcohol.

_0009_BackgroundAlan Staines OAM OF (Envoy) (National Secretary), was the Founder and Director of Hope for Life, the Salvation Armys Suicide Prevention Bereavement Support Services from 2006 up to June 2013. He was a driving force behind the establishment of the Salvation Armys suicide bereavement services. Alan continues to serve as a Board Member of The Salvation Armys Hope for Life national programs. For over 30 years Alan has played a pivotal role in the recognition and development of Postvention Services in Australia. Alan was responsible for convening the Inaugural Australian Postvention Conference in 2007 and subsequent Australian Postvention Conferences in 2009 and 2012 for the bereaved by suicide. He was also responsible for developing the Australian Lifekeeper Memory Quilt initiative that provides families with a tangible and therapeutic way of remembering their loved ones. In 2013 Alan was responsible for the formation and establishment of Postvention Australia ? A National Association for the Bereaved by Suicide. Alan has been actively involved in suicide prevention/ Bereavement Support programs for more than three decades. He played a key role in establishing the Salvo Care Line (1983) and the Salvation Army OASIS Youth Care Centre in Surry Hills (1992). In 1991 Alan founded and helped establish Suicide Prevention Australia (SPA) and for 18 years he served on the SPA Board as National Secretary. He undertook a range of additional responsibilities including organising SPAs National Conferences. In 2003, in recognition of Alans perseverance and tireless efforts in suicide prevention, he was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for services to young people through Suicide Prevention Australia and the Salvation Army. In 2004, he was honoured with Life Membership of Suicide Prevention Australia. In 2007, Alan received the Order of the Founder (OF), the highest Salvation Army honour for distinguished service. In 2013, he was awarded the Farberow Award from The International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) for his significant contribution in the field of his work with the bereaved by suicide.


photo-joshua-fathers Joshua Fathers (Treasurer) is a Certified Practicing Accountant, and has held senior financial positions in both the commercial and not-for-profit sectors.  In the past, he worked for The George Institute for Global Health, an organisation carrying out public health research, and informing policy across the world.  Earlier in his career he worked in the entertainment sector (Sony Music), and recently served as Finance & Administration Director, and Public Officer for the Australian subsidiary of a large multinational retail organisation.  He has an interest in supporting organisations that contribute to the health and wellbeing of all, and previously served as Treasurer for Groundwork International, a small grass roots aid charity.  He is currently an active volunteer for the Exodus Foundation.  Joshua holds a Bachelor of Business (Accounting) from Western Sydney University, and has recently commenced a Masters of Not-for-Profit and Social Enterprise Management at the University of Technology Sydney.


Emeritus Professor Judy Atkinson (SCU) identifies as a Jiman / Bundjalung (Aboriginal Australian) woman who also has Anglo-Celtic, and German heritage. With a PhD from QUT, her primary academic and research focus is in the area of violence and relational trauma, and healing for Indigenous, and indeed all peoples. She developed the We Al-li program, ?used as a foundation stone for the Masters in Indigenous Studies (wellbeing); the undergraduate degree Trauma and Healing , and the Diploma of Community Recovery. She was awarded Carrick Neville Bonner Award in 2006 for her curriculum development and innovative teaching practice. In 2011 she was awarded the Fritz Redlich award for Mental health and Human Rights from the Harvard University Global Mental health Trauma and Recovery program. Her book:? Trauma Trails Recreating Songlines: The transgenerational effects of Trauma in Indigenous Australia, provides context to the life stories of people who have moved/been moved from their country in a process that has created trauma trails, and the changes that can occur in the lives of people make connections with each other and share their stories of healing. Judy retired at the end of 2010, so she can focus on writing and working with communities in Australia, Timor Leste, and Papua New Guinea educational healing work, what she calls educating.


_0004_Estelle-DragunEstelle Dragun, is the mother of Charmaine Dragun who tragically took her life in November 2007. Estelle is a member of the Australian Ministerial Council for Suicide Prevention in Western Australia and has spent a great deal of time trying to bring about awareness and understanding of suicide, talking to schools and other community bodies. Since her daughters passing she has been committed to stamping out the stigma associated with mental illness and making all people realise that mental health and well being is just as important as physical health and well being. To quote Estelle, One never recovers from such a trauma and each loved one deals with grief and loss in their own individual way…There are too many Charmaine’s in this world who leave us far too soon and with many unanswered questions… It has been my quest over the past five years to learn more about mental health and well being and make a difference! It is not good enough to say a person has committed suicide and just close the door… They must not die in vain or be thought of as less than any other human being… The stigma of bereavement by suicide must be eliminated and care and compassion be the replacement… Through Postvention Australia, we can support research and enlightenment, assist families and even survivors of attempted suicide by offering care, understanding, compassion and providing opportunities for collaboration and co-ordination of service… If we are to really make a difference in reducing suicide and eliminating stigma we must work together and include those bereaved by suicide by listening with understanding and compassion, assist them in their time of need and learning from these experiences. No more must we close the door and leave well alone!


Cindy Mills, lost her 17 year old daughter Victoria to suicide in 2006. Completely unexpected, Victoria’s death sparked a torrent of questions, sending Cindy on a landslide of guilt, self-blame, anger, confusion and profound grief that made her also feel vulnerable to suicide. Soon after the tragedy she received intensive counselling and participated in a suicide support group run by Dr Diana Sands and the Salvation Army, which she attributes to her strong recovery. Since that time she has worked with the Salvation Army to promote their suicide related services, in particular bereavement services. These include the Hope for Life Suicide Prevention and Bereavement Support service, the Question Persuade and Refer initiative for suicide prevention and the National Lifekeeper Memory Quilt. Cindy is a founding member of Wings of Hope, a harm prevention charity established in 2007 that provides education, resources and support events for people bereaved by suicide. Cindy has frequently spoken in the media of the critical need for services and support to be readily available for all Australians who lose a loved one to suicide, enabling them to work through the complexities of their tragedy and begin to heal in a supportive, compassionate environment free from boundaries, taboo and stigma. Cindy has given evidence at the 2009 Australian Senate Inquiry into Suicide and her bereavement story was featured in the 2012 National Report Card on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention. Six years after her tragic loss, Cindy continues to draw on the strengths and strategies that she acquired from her bereavement support. They ensure that the memories of Victoria capture the essence of her entire magnificent existence, rather than focusing on one tragic day. It is Cindy’s sincere hope that bereavement services are available to every Australian not only initially, but?well into their unique bereavement and recovery journey.

photo-lyndall-staffordLyndall Stafford has been a psychologist for 14 years and has been facilitating suicide postvention groups in Brisbane with Lifeline, which is partnered with UnitingCare Community, for 10 years. She also works with individual clients and has worked in a number of settings including the public mental health system. Presently her work life is divided between her postvention groups and working at headspace Capalaba. Her interests lie in the areas of postvention, psychotic and dissociative disorders and trauma.



 photo-jill-fisherJill Fisher is internationally recognised for her work in the areas of suicide prevention, postvention and mental health. Jill has a special interest in the areas of crisis and traumatic loss & grief. Her media background and professional experience in research and national community development has further enhanced her skills in establishing integrated community responses to traumatic events. With active memberships on several national and international committees, Jill has also served as a professional advisor or peer reviewer to several national and international suicide prevention initiatives. Jill was honoured to receive the internationally acclaimed IASP Norman Farberow Award 2011 in recognition of her work in the field of suicide postvention and the national Australian LiFE Award for Excellence in Suicide Prevention for Leadership Award in 2013.  Until 2014 Jill was also the editor of the International Assoc. for Suicide Prevention (IASP) Special Interest Group on Postvention Newsletter. Currently Jill is a member of the IASP Postvention Taskforce, the Roses in the Ocean Advisory Committee and the New South Wales Mental Health Commission Suicide Prevention Advisory Group.

Jill Fisher’s most recent role was as the National Coordinator for the StandBy Response Service based at United Synergies Ltd. on Australia’s Sunshine Coast, overseeing the development and implementation of the StandBy model to several Australian sites. StandBy is an evidenced based community-based active postvention programme, providing a 24-hour coordinated response to assist families, friends and associates who have been bereaved through suicide.

Jill’s interest and passion in addressing the needs of those affected by suicide has been greatly advanced by achieving her Masters of Suicidology with the Australian Institute for Suicide Research & Prevention at Griffith University, under the directorship of internationally renowned suicidologist Professor Diego De Leo. Jill also completed her Masters in Health Studies (Grief & Loss) at the University of Queensland, under the directorship of Associate Professor Judith Murray and has been privileged to share memberships of various advisory groups with Emeritus Professor Graham Martin also at the University of Queensland. Under the directorship of Associate Professor Myfanwy Maple, Jill is currently undertaking her Professional Doctorate studies with the University of Armidale to undertake further research into suicide bereavement including the emerging field of postvention practice.

Gary-ParsissonGary Parsisson, CEO (Ex Officio Member), lost his son Joshua to suicide in 2000 and as such has a strong understanding of the issues surrounding bereavement by suicide. Gary has a long career history in the Banking and Financial Service industry in a variety of senior executive roles as well as consulting. Gary has agreed to take on the role as Chief Executive Officer and will bring to the role years of volunteering experience across various sectors in the community as well as his fundraising experience gained in his current position in the Salvation Army.