october, 2017

26oct6:00 pm7:30 pmABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER MENTAL HEALTH6:00 pm - 7:30 pm Event Organized By: Sydney Ideas

Event Details

Joe Williams

Joe Williams, Indigenous mental health campaigner

The forum will bring together expert First Nations Community and University speakers to discuss the importance of increasing awareness about mental illness within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Joe Williams, a First Nations mental health campaigner and former elite athlete, will share his story and discuss his current work in the keynote address. He will be joined in a panel discussion by University of Sydney academics Dr Vanessa Lee and Percival Knight, which will be facilitated by actor and local Aboriginal Community member Luke Carroll.

About the keynote speaker:

Joe Williams is a proud Wiradjuri, 1st Nations Aboriginal man born in Cowra, raised in Wagga NSW, Australia. Joe played in the National Rugby League for South Sydney Rabbitohs, Penrith Panthers and Canterbury Bulldogs before switching to professional Boxing in 2009. Joe is a 2x WBF World Jnr Welterweight champion and recently won the WBC Asia Continental Title.

Although he had forged a successful professional sporting career, Joe battled the majority of his life with suicidal ideation and bipolar disorder. After a suicide attempt in 2012, Joe felt his purpose was to help people who struggle with mental illness. In 2017 Joe was named as finalist in the National Indigenous Human Rights Awards for his work with suicide prevention and fighting for equality for Australia’s First Nations people.

Wagga Wagga Citizen of the Year in 2015 for his work within the community, mental health and suicide prevention sectors, Joe is also a published author, contributing to the book Transformation; Turning Tragedy To Triumph and his very own autobiography titled Defying The Enemy Within – which will be in stores early 2018. Recently Joe has also been involved in filming of the worldwide documentary, Suicide the Ripple Effect from director and fellow advocate, Kevin Hines.


  • Dr Vanessa Lee, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney. Dr Vanessa Lee is a member of the Yupungathiand Meriam people, but resides on the land of the Gadigal people. She is a social epidemiologist who has focused on health issues affecting the Indigenous community, as well as broader questions of cultural competence. Dr Lee is a board member of Suicide Prevention Australia and Chair of Public Health Indigenous Leaders in Education Network
  • Percival Knight, PHD Candidate, Wingara Mura Leadership Program, Sydney Business School. Percival Knight is the first Indigenous PHD Candidate within the University of Sydney Business School and has qualifications in Indigenous Social Emotional Wellbeing and a Masters in Applied Science. Percival is an ambassador for the Black Dog Institute/NRL in delivering the ABC connect programs on Mental Health to Indigenous Communities in rural NSW. He is also a Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Aboriginal Policy and Economic Research (CAEPR), ANU.


  • Luke Carroll is a proud Wiradjuri man and is a busy film, television and theatre actor. He has just completed a successful season of Black is the New White at the Sydney Theatre Company and he played the lead role in The Hanging and The Battle of Waterloo for STC. Luke’s television credits include Black ComedyThe Gods of Wheat Street and Redfern Now for the ABC – the latter earned him a 2012 AACTA Award Nomination for ‘Best Guest or Supporting Actor in a TV Drama’. Other roles include HeartbeatHome and AwayThe Alice and AFI-nominated roles in R.A.N and the feature film Australian Rules. He is also a much loved presenter on Playschool. Luke is proud to be an ambassador for the Cathy Freeman Foundation.


(Thursday) 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm


MacLaurin Hall

The Quadrangle The University of Sydney


Sydney Ideassydney.ideas@sydney.edu.au