7th May, 2015

Melbourne YL Speaker Series 2015

‘Informed’, ‘Inspired’, and ‘Engaged’

Three powerful sentiments that were shared by three exceptional individuals at The Australian Ireland Fund Melbourne’s Young Leaders event on May 7th at Grant Thornton.

Professor Patrick McGorry (AO), Tony Griffin (Soar) and Tom Harkin truly captivated the audience as they spoke of their experience of working with young people in the area of mental health.

Prof Patrick McGorry (AO) talked about the historical stigma of mental illness and the progress that has been made in improving the diagnosis and treatment of young people suffering from this condition.  SOAR’s Tony Griffin and Tom Harkin (Reach/consultant) took attendees on an emotional journey, sharing the work their organisations are doing to change the lives of young people. Former All-Star Hurler Griffin spoke of his ambition to make his SOAR program a country wide initiative in the hope of assisting as many Irish young people as possible and in doing so emulate the achievements of his inspiration Jim Stynes.

All three speakers moved the room as they spoke of the passion that drives them to make a significant difference to the lives of young people in both hemispheres.

The main topic of discussion was early intervention in youth mental health and all three speakers eloquently of their efforts to make an impact. Professor McGorry focused on his work in the area of early psychosis and youth mental health. His innovative research has played an integral role in the development of safe, effective treatments for young people with emerging mental disorders, notably the psychotic and severe mood disorders. The former ‘Australian of the Year’ spoke of his frustration at the lack of government funding assigned to this area of health.

Tony Griffin, now one of Ireland’s leading social entrepreneurs and youth advocates, told the story of how Jim Stynes had motivated him to start his own foundation. Inspired by the documentary that followed Stynes’ fight against cancer, Tony decided that he would start the Irish equivalent of Stynes’ ‘Reach’ foundation. He even travelled to Australia to meet Stynes before doing so.

Griffin isn’t the only person that has been inspired by the former Melbourne footballer. The third speaker of the evening, Tom Harkin, was a graduate of the Reach program who went on to become a facilitator and consultant for youth organisations. He spoke of the workshops that help young people understand and experience their innate potential. Tom commended Tony for his work and passion in the area and spoke of what a privilege it was to work with Stynes.

To finish the evening, the speakers were gifted with beautiful one off prints of Dublin’s O’Connell St in 1890, kindly donated by Ibar McCarty Photography.

Those who attended were lucky enough to enjoy networking opportunities with all speakers who stayed on to mingle with guests. Attendees felt privileged to get such an intimate insight into the amazing work of these individuals and their organisations.


Teresa Keating

Executive Director

The Ireland Funds Australia

Level 1, 64 Devonshire Street Surry Hills NSW 2010 Australia NSW 2011 Australia

T - 0410 633 598

E - tkeating@irelandfunds.org

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