Advocacy & Support for

Borderline Personality Disorder
& Complex Trauma

2016 'Achieving Recovery Together' Conference






The MC for the day was Julie McCrossin, the well known Australian radio broadcaster, journalist, comedian, political commentator and activist for women's and gay rights.

Welcome to Country – Donna Ingram

Conference Opening and launch of the NSW Branch of the Australian BPD Foundation  – NSW Mental Health Commissioner John Feneley

Keynote Presentations:

Consumer keynote ‘Creating and Sustaining Recovery Within BPD’ – Mahlie Jewell

Carer keynote 'Achieving Recovery Together' – Jenny Learmont AM Hon MD

In her address Jenny reviews changes over 30 years in BPD knowledge and treatment from the perspective of a carer with an emphasis on the difficulties associated with dual diagnoses and to look at the way forward with suggestions that may assist carers to carry out their role in “achieving recovery together,” the theme of this conference.

Jenny has been a carer, for 40 years, of a son who first developed severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) at age 13, and at around aged 18 developed Bi-Polar disorder, and Borderline Personality Disorder (which for many years was undiagnosed). By 20 years of age he had commenced drug and alcohol misuse in an effort to relieve the very distressing and debilitating symptoms he was experiencing and which existing therapies/medication were unsuccessful in treating.

Jenny is presently Vice President of Mental Health Carers NSW, ARAFMI, and a member of the Australian BPD Foundation (NSW Branch) and a part-time member of the Mental Health review Tribunal

Click here to download the powerpoint of Jenny's presentation

‘Overview of the Project Air Strategy for Personality Disorders and challenges to implementing BPD treatment principles within the NSW public and private mental health systems’ Prof Brin Grenyer (Project Air Strategy)

The Project Air Strategy for Personality Disorders step-down model outlines an approach to clinical leadership and service re-design, targeted training, the provision of brief and longer term treatments, rapid access to psychological assistance, support for families and carers, and better access to information and clinical resources to provide more hopeful and integrated treatment.

The NHMRC 2012 BPD Clinical Practice Guidelines support evidence-based treatment for BPD as psychological therapy in the community, yet the prevalence of the disorder presents a challenge to specialist intervention programs that typically are unable to meet the high clinical demand. It is known that approximately one quarter of emergency mental health presentations and inpatient admissions are from people with personality disorders and associated problems including self-harm and substance dependence.

The Project Air Strategy Treatment Guidelines present an integrative step-down whole of service approach that is based on a relational model that recognizes the whole system supporting the client in the strategy. We present findings from our current NSW Statewide implementation and discuss the key challenges and solutions in ensuring consumers, families and the community have rapid access to specific and effective services.

Brin Grenyer is Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Wollongong and Director of the Project Air Strategy for Personality Disorders, in partnership with NSW Health. He is also Foundation Chair of the Psychology Board of Australia. He was a member of the NHMRC Borderline Personality Disorder Guideline Development Committee, and is on the RANZCP Advisory Group for a Consumer Guide on Borderline Personality Disorder. He is on the Editorial Boards of Psychotherapy Research and Personality and Mental Health, and is active in clinical practice and research through Northfields Psychology Clinic.

Click here to download the powerpoint of Brin's presentation.

'Hope and Optimism for BPD in Australia' – A/Prof Sathya Rao (Spectrum Personality Disorder Service for Victoria).

BPD is a public health priority that significantly impacts at least 24,000 Australians. Although research has demonstrated that people with BPD can be effectively treated with psychotherapy, access to such treatment is limited across the nation. The mental health workforce is not confident in treating BPD due to limited training in evidence based psychotherapeutic treatments. A national population health approach to organizing care for BPD is urgently required. The objective of this presentation is to consider what progress has been made so far and discuss what needs to be done to close the gap to achieve treatment for every single person with BPD in Australia.

A/Prof Rao has written a discussion paper "Towards developing a National Strategy for Borderline Personality disorder- a dollar a citizen per year will get us started in the right direction" as is seeking comments.

The paper may be accessed here and comments to email.

Click here to download the powerpoint of Sathya's presentation


1. ‘Consumer Panel - 'What works for me: consumer stories’  

2. ‘Carer Panel - 'Achieving Recovery Together: carer stories’  

3. ‘Borderline Personality Disorder and Substance Use’ by Dr Chris Willcox (Head of Psychology Hunter New England Mental Health, Conjoint Associate Professor, School of Psychology, University of Newcastle)

Taking a DBT (Dialectical Behaviour Therapy) informed approach this workshop will look at building a life worth living based on (eventual) abstinence. The use of the DBT hierarchy, therapeutic attachment and dialectics while focusing on the achievement of a person’s goals beyond use will be briefly explored.”

Bio: Chris Willcox is a principal clinical psychologist, head of Hunter New England Mental Health psychology, psychotherapy educator with the Hunter New England Psychiatry training program and conjoint associate professor with the School of Psychology at the University of Newcastle.

He has over 25 years of experience in working with people with personality disorders, borderline personality disorder in particular. Approximately the first decade of this was spent working in a psycho-dynamically informed therapeutic community primarily as an outpatient therapist. The remainder has been as a founding member of the Centre for Psychotherapy, a specialist unit set up to provide treatment to people with personality disorders, eating disorders, and other complex presentations, in addition to supervision, consultation, education, training & research. During this time, he has worked primarily with Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT).

Click here to download the powerpoint of Chris' presentation

4. ‘BPD: a Social and Emotional Wellbeing Perspective’ C. Minchin & K. Zulumovski (Charles Sturt University, Gamarada Universal Indigenous Resources)

Click here to download the powerpoint of Carolyn and Ken's presentation


5. ‘Dialectical Behaviour Therapy: states of mind, mindfulness and crisis survival skills’ Chris Willcox Head of Psychology Hunter New England Mental Health, Conjoint Associate Professor, School of Psychology, University of Newcastle

Click here to download the powerpoint of Chris' presentation

6. ‘Breaking the Code: BPD, relational mindfulness & families’ Dr Peter McKenzie (Bouverie Centre, Latrobe University)

Abstract: Peter McKenzie explores the theory and practice of the program he conducts at the Bouverie and will introduce the practices the program is based upon. This peer support program for carers encourages its participants to explore and evaluate knowledge and practices that foster realistic ways to promote, inform and support relationships. Creating a mindful space for reflection and realistic action, the program aims to improve understanding of the effects of BPD on families’ lives through guided sharing.

Peter McKenzie (PhD MA Clinical Family Therapy) has a particular interest in ethnographic research and narrative therapy with a clinical focus on BPD and complex needs families. He currently holds the Carer Academic (mental health) position at the Bouverie Centre, Faculty of Health Sciences, La Trobe University. His current roles at the centre include, Clinical Family Therapy, Research Co-ordinator and Supervisor and Family Practice Consultant.)

Click here to download the powerpoint of Peter's presentation

7. ‘Towards a Conceptual Framework of Recovery in Borderline Personality Disorder’ Fiona Ng (Project AIR, University of Wollongong, Sydney)

Recovery from BPD can be conceptualised through a clinical and personal recovery lens. The clinical recovery outcomes in BPD are well known, such that symptomatic remission is a common experience. Personal recovery has become a dominant concept within the mental health rhetoric and refers to the ability to lead a meaningful and autonomous life, with our without the experience of symptoms. There is however a limited understanding of what constitutes this in BPD. In this presentation, models of recovery will be reviewed through the perspectives of consumers, clinicians, and carers and new research on the treatment goals of 102 consumers seeking psychotherapy for BPD will be discussed.

Data on clinical recovery in BPD has dominated the literature and suggests that BPD is a stable disorder, where remission is possible and the likelihood of recurrence following a period of remission is low. Insight into the treatment goals of clients have identified key recovery processes associated with personal recovery including the strengthening of interpersonal relationships, improving wellbeing, and establishing self-identity. Developing a conceptual framework for recovery in BPD is valuable for improving recovery oriented practice and services. The current findings provide a starting point for which this can be achieved.

Bio: Fiona Ng is a PhD Candidate in the School of Psychology at the University of Wollongong and an Associate Research Fellow in the Project Air Strategy for Personality Disorders. Her research focuses on understanding the lived experience and recovery journey from BPD through the perspectives of consumers, clinicians, and carers.

Click here to download the powerpoint of Fiona's presentation

8. ‘Self-harm in high school students: issues, controversies & responses’ Dr Michelle Townsend (Project AIR, University of Wollongong, Sydney).

Click here to download the powerpoint of Michelle's presentation


The Australian BPD Foundation acknowledges the support of Mental Health Carers NSW in presenting the conference and the generous Sponsorship of the following sponsors: