Award: Australia’s highest honour for UNSW trauma expert

Posted 16 June 2016

UNSW Scientia Professor Richard Bryant, a world expert in the mental health of people affected by adversity and trauma, has received Australia’s highest accolade in this year’s Queen’s birthday honours.

Professor Bryant, from the School of Psychology, was one of 13 Australians named Companion in the Order of Australia (AC), for his work in Indigenous and refugee mental health, and as an adviser to government and international organisations.

“The letter from the Governor General was very much unexpected, but a great honour and a reflection of a lot of people’s work over a long, long time,” Professor Bryant said.

He is Director of the Traumatic Stress Clinic, which is recognised internationally as a leading research treatment clinic for post-traumatic stress disorder and grief.

He established the clinic at Westmead Hospital more than 30 years ago at a time when relatively little was known about post-traumatic stress.

“I’ve been part of a large research program in this field, including a team at UNSW and elsewhere, that really has punched above its weight in terms of Australian research and the impact it is having internationally,” he said.

Professor Bryant said his current focus is on the core mental health issues facing both the national and international health agenda.

“Nationally we are working with our Indigenous partners to develop better evidence for more culturally appropriate ways to develop resilience in our Indigenous communities.

“At an international level we are working with international agencies such as the WHO and UNHCR to develop affordable mental health care for those living in countries deeply affected by trauma,” he said.

This includes developing research programs intended for large-scale trials in refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon.