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Barbara Hocking, a longtime friend and leader in the mental health and suicide prevention sector

The team at the Hunter Institute of Mental Health were very saddened today to learn of the passing of Barbara Hocking, a longtime friend of our organisation who worked tirelessly as a leader in the mental health and suicide prevention sector to reduce stigma of people affected by mental illness.

The Hunter Institute of Mental Health has a long history of working with SANE Australia, a partnership that commenced under the leadership of Barbara Hocking and our foundation Director, Professor Trevor Waring, who also passed away recently.

Barbara worked closely with our organisation to design the early years of the Mindframe National Media Initiative which has been working to encourage responsible, accurate and sensitive representation of mental illness and suicide in the Australian mass media since 1997. In 1999, under Barbara’s leadership as Executive Director at SANE Australia, the Stigma Watch program was born which represents people affected by mental illness and campaigns for improved community understanding and fair representation in the media. To this day Stigma Watch and our Mindframe team, work closely together to champion the reduction of stigma in the Australian media.

Her footprint on this earth made a lasting impression.

Barbara was a staunch advocate for reducing stigma and for bringing the voice of those with personal experience of mental illness to the surface. We know that many people in our sector and our community, including countless numbers of consumers and carers, will be deeply affected by this news.

Our Director, Jaelea Skehan, worked closely with Barbara Hocking for many years and reflected on Barbara’s role as a mentor and as a person of great integrity.

“I was grateful to work alongside Barbara in the beginning stages of my career and often still reflect on what she taught me about perseverance, doing what is right and knowing that the most important voice in the room is the voice of lived experience.

“She was generous with her time and wise with her words.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with her husband Bruce, the Hocking family, the team at SANE Australia and everyone whose life Barbara touched."

Her footprint on this earth made a lasting impression.

If you would like to send a personal message to the family, please email [email protected] and they will pass it on to them on your behalf.

Published: 8 November 2016

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