by Professor David Forbes
Director, Phoenix Australia
Phoenix Australia mourns the passing last week of Professor Beverley Raphael. Professor Raphael was a giant in the field of mental health and traumatic stress both nationally and internationally, and was a generous source of wise, compassionate and insightful advice to us at Phoenix Australia and to clinicians and researchers in this field over many, many years.
Beverley Raphael AM was Professor and Head of Academic Unit of Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine, Australian National University, Professor of Population Mental Health and Disasters, University of Western Sydney, and Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry, University of Queensland. She entered psychiatry in 1964, was Foundation Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Newcastle, Professor and Chair at the University of Queensland, and Director of Mental Health for NSW (1996-2005). She was President of the Royal and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) from 1983 to 1985.
Professor Raphael conducted extensive research as well as policy and program development work covering diverse fields including bereavement, psychological trauma, disasters and terrorism, child and adolescent mental health, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health, women’s mental health, HIV aids and mental health, depression, domestic violence, and mental health aspects of physical illnesses including respiratory disease, cancer and stroke.
Her work often broke new ground. During her time as President of the RANZCP, Professor Raphael developed the first proposal and template for a National Mental Health Policy for Australia; in 1995, together with Pat Swan, she was responsible for the first national analysis of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health – Ways Forward: National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health Policy National Consultancy Report.
She was a national and international advisor in the field of disaster mental health: she developed national strategies for disaster mental health in Australia; advised the World Health Organisation regarding the development of psychiatric education to the People’s Republic of China; advised the Philippines government in disasters and mental health; and was an invited consultant for the US government’s mental health response to mass violence.
Professor Raphael chaired a wide range of mental health committees, including the National Health and Medical Research Council’s Mental Health Committee, the Australian Transcultural Mental Health Network, and co-chaired with me the Steering Committee for the NHMRC-approved Australian Guidelines for the Treatment of Acute Stress Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. She was also a foundation and long-time member of the Repatriation Medical Authority and Chairperson of the Australian Child and Adolescent Trauma, Loss and Grief Network.
Professor Raphael’s achievements were also recognised in many awards, including the RANZCP Medal of Honour (2008), the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies Life Time Achievement Award (2004), the Australia Day Award (Top Ten Achiever) in 1994 for her work in mental health, and she became a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 1984 for her service to medicine, particularly in the field of psychiatry.
Beverley was truly one of the great leaders in our field and a personal and professional inspiration to us all. We deeply mourn her passing and acknowledge her tremendous and enduring achievements.