Chris Gibbs headshot
Chris Gibbs/Chief Executive Officer
2 min read·August 25th, 2021
Chris Gibbs, CEO of MHPN reflects on the life-long contributions to, and enduring influence of John McGrath AM on mental health in Australia.

Vale John McGrath

It with sadness that I inform you of the recent passing of John McGrath AM, inaugural MHPN Chair, colleague, and friend to many.

John brought to the mental health sector a wealth of experience and expertise that was embedded in his personal family history with mental illness and moulded by his lived experience as a carer.

John was a member of the Victorian Parliament for 14 years and his decision to retire was prompted by his desire to direct his energies to promoting better outcomes for individuals, families, and wider communities seeking support from mental health services.

Throughout his career, John championed the centrality of the consumer, and that of the carer, in developing and delivering good mental health care. John provided national leadership to the emerging voices of consumers and carers, and his work supported a move towards increasing recognition of their vital contributions to the mental health system.

In reflecting on John’s contribution to better mental health, it became very apparent that John concentrated on directing his time and energy to endeavours that he believed would make a difference. John’s expertise in governance together with his experience as a carer saw him involved in several landmark national initiatives, particularly in the roles as a Chair or Deputy Chair of the Board of Directors. Some of these initiatives included headspace, Beyond Blue, Mental Health Australia (formerly known as Mental Health Council of Australia), and MHPN.

In his role as Chair of the Board of Directors at MHPN, John’s wise counsel, steady hand, and passionate support of interdisciplinary practice as a means to achieving better mental health outcomes was instrumental to the evolution of MHPN. There are many people working in mental health across Australia for whom John was and remains a mentor. John’s advice, leadership, and vision over the years has helped many of us through challenging situations.

Finally, it would be remiss not to acknowledge the man himself – an honest, direct, and inspirational person whose contribution to the Australian community was both timely and unique.

On behalf of all of us at MHPN, we send our condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of John. John’s leadership in, vision of, and hope for a brighter future in Australia’s mental health landscape remains a
foundational force and guiding principle for all the work that we do.

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The Mental Health Professionals’ Network (MHPN) respectfully acknowledges the Wurundjeri and the Boon Wurrung people of the Kulin nation, the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the land on which our office is situated. We also acknowledge Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and pay our respects to their Elders past and present.