Keynote Speakers

The keynote speakers at the conference will bring their vast wealth of knowledge and showcase best practice approaches, expert opinions and practical ways to address the complex challenges of mental health.

We have selected a number of highly passionate keynote speakers that will cover topics that nurture our mental health and well-being within a variety of community settings.

Wellbeing in the Community

John Mannion

John Mannion is the inaugural Chief Executive Office of Breakthrough Mental Health Research Foundation – Australia’s only foundation dedicated solely to mental health research. 

John’s career in mental health has spanned more than 35 years including as a practitioner, in both Mental Health Nursing and Social work as well as leading mental health services across the state and previously holding the Lead Mental Health Commissioner Role for South Australia.

John led the establishment of Breakthrough in 2018 which last year alone funded more than 20 leading research projects across all the state’s universities. These included projects in the areas of youth mental health, depression, indigenous mental health and eating disorders, all with a focus upon helping to creating a life free of mental illness by focusing upon research to inform clinical improvements, enhanced outcomes and community connectivity.

John has a passion for normalising the mental health conversation, delivering mental health literacy programs to help drive meaningful change and continuing to expand his mental health knowledge and understanding. He is grateful for the many people he has met in the community, who have shared their own personal stories to help support wider change and positive outcomes for all.


Culturally Welcoming Spaces

Andrew Plastow

Andrew Plastow is the founding Director of  Ngutu College – an independent, not-for-profit, socially-just college based in Woodville North.

Andrew is a proud husband to Lori and father to Isabella and Oliver. Ngutu College, founded in 2021, is an independent schooling redesign that provides access to quality creative holistic education for all young people, particularly those who were previously disempowered. For his remarkable contributions to learner agency in education, Andrew was honored with the World Education Forum Outstanding Contribution to Learner Agency in Education Award in 2022.

Before founding Ngutu College, Andrew served as a school principal at Alberton Primary School for 15 years. His unique school was one of only 140 schools worldwide in the OECD’s Innovative Learning Environments project. At Alberton Primary School, he co-imagined and co-facilitated the creation of The Nest, which is a school program for ages 3-6. In 2016 and 2019, ACECQA rated The Nest as ‘Excellent.’ Additionally, Andrew collaborated with Elders and children from 4 Aboriginal Nations and Dr. Tyson Yunkaporta to develop ‘Nunga Way,’ a framework for teaching through culture.

In addition to his work in education, Andrew co-published two humanitarian children’s novels about Aboriginal children titled “Stolen Book 1: The Lands of Dreams and Nightmares” and “Stolen Book 2: Times of Shame and Glory.” Muhammad Ali and Andrew wrote forewords for both books.

Trauma Informed Workplaces

Sarah Scammell

Sarah Scammell is the General Manager of Victim Support Service. With broad experience in various sectors, she is known for developing strategic partnerships and engaging stakeholders. Sarah has worked in both urban and rural areas of South Australia, specializing in strategic management, business development, stakeholder management, community and economic development, sponsorship, grants, tenders, and Not-For-Profit Governance.

As General Manager of SA’s Victim Support Service (VSS), Sarah leads a team of professionals who provide services supporting policing, justice administration, and victim-survivors in courts and communities. She has a deep understanding of the impacts of crime and abuse on victims and their needs.

Sarah values leadership based on principles. VSS is a trauma-informed organization that prioritizes the rights of victims and places clients at the center of their work.

Sarah has fostered a workplace culture focused on the safety, well-being, and empowerment of staff and volunteers, promoting choice, trust, and collaboration. She aims to raise awareness of the effects of violence in families, communities, workplaces, and education settings and develop vicarious resilience.

Sarah believes in intervention and prevention, working to ensure that anyone affected by crime and abuse can easily access the support they need for safety. She leads her team to find innovative ways to engage government and communities for an effective response to disclosures.

“If you do not step forward you will always be in the same place.”