Our history  


The Beyond Blue initiative began as a conversation between The Honourable Jeff Kennett and his then 19-year-old daughter Amy, who had lost two male friends in fatal car accidents.

"We thought at first it was a road toll issue but we found out their partners had left them for careers in the city, which was their right, and that had led them to suicide." Still premier of Victoria, he called a group of experts together to brainstorm a solution. "They told me we had to deal with the root cause of suicide, which is depression, either emotional or clinical. It's an illness." 



Established in October 2000, Beyond Blue initially focused on raising awareness of depression and reducing the associated stigma. As our knowledge and impact on people's lives broadened, through research and community engagement, we added the key issue of anxiety conditions in 2011 and, more recently, suicide prevention to our core purpose.

Read more about our history below.

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Inaugural Board members left to right, back row: Dr Paul Hemming, Prof Ian Hickie, Mr Garry McDonald, Prof Harvey Whiteford, Mr John McGrath. Left to right, front row: Ms Jenny Pickworth, Hon Mr Jeff Kennett, Hon Ms Caroline Hogg, Ms Gwen Wilcox

October 19, 2000

After receiving a positive reaction from state leaders, Jeff Kennett pencilled in $35 million for a mental health advocacy group and Beyond Blue: the national depression initiative was established with 9 board directors and 9 staff

The vision

A society that understands and responds to the personal and social impact of depression, and works actively to prevent it and improve the quality of life of everyone affected by it.



The Beyond Blue website is launched and receives 93,556 visits in its first year, making it the eighth most visited website in the HitWise Health and Medical Organisations category.


National Postnatal Depression Program launch. The program aims to screen 95,000 women for antenatal and postnatal depression between by the end of 2004.


22% of Australians recognise Beyond Blue.



Establishment of blueVoices, giving Australians experiencing depression and their carers a national voice. 

“Blue Voices will ensure that people with the lived experience of depression, anxiety and other related mental disorders are truly able to represent issues of importance at a national level on all relevant committees and governmental structures.” Bernard McNair, National Coordinator, Blue Voices.


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Blue Voices national consumer and carer network

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Launch of the Centre of Excellence in Depression and Related Disorders   

To support the development of evidence-based practice in Australia, the Centre of Excellence in Depression and Related Disorders was launched in Victoria with Beyond Blue funding. 

Pictured left: Launch Centre of Excellence in Depression and Related Disorders. Left to right: Ms Sue Sidebottom (Carer Representative), Professor Bruce Singh (University of Melbourne), Ms Ingrid Ozols (Consumer Representative), Professor Ian Hickie (CEO, Beyond Blue), The Honourable Bronwyn Pike (Victorian Minister for Community Services) and The Honourable Jeff Kennett (Chairman, Beyond Blue).

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Reducing discrimination in the Insurance Industry 

A world first agreement to work on improving access to life insurance for Australians with mental health problems is signed between the Investment and Financial Services Association (IFSA) and the Beyond Blue-led Mental Health Sector Stakeholders (MHSS) group. 

National Schools Research

Beyond Blue launches a National Schools Research Initiative with 50 secondary schools in SA, QLD and Victoria are participating in the $5 million research project looking at how school communities can reduce depression levels among high school students.

Better Outcomes

15% of GPs (3000) undertake new training programs in mental health under the Better Outcomes initiative.



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Ms Leonie Young joins Beyond Blue as CEO in July 2003


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Governor of NSW Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir AC launches maturityblues – a national voice for older people with depression and their carers


Prime Minster John Howard announces $30 million funding for Beyond Blue over four years.


independent evaluation of Beyond Blue completed by Associate Professor Jane Pirkis of The University of Melbourne recommends a further term: 


Beyond Blue National Depression in the Workplace Program officially launched after 140 pilot training sessions involving 2,500 workplace employees.


The Beyond Blue National Postnatal Depression Program is the first in the world to establish a large database evaluating the mental health of women during pregnancy and early parenthood. Since 2001, the program has reached 600,000 women, with depression screening of 90,000 women.

“I just wanted to let you know that whoever I spoke to saved my life. I’m very grateful for the service.”

Male caller with bipolar disorder


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 The Beyond Blue and Rotary team in Alice Springs, Northern Territory

July-December – The Rotary Health Safari Winnebago – carrying Beyond Blue information and messages – travels 35,000 km and visits 400 towns across every Australia state and territory. There are 18 public forums held along the way featuring Beyond Blue speakers including Jeff Kennett, Garry McDonald, Craig Hamilton and John Konrads

  • 62% of Australians recognise Beyond Blue 
  • 750,000 visitors to the Beyond Blue website
  • 700,000 Beyond Blue information materials distributed
  • 22 Beyond Blue staff members



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Movember – 45,000 men across Australia grow a Mo to raise awareness of depression and prostate cancer. $2.5 million donated to Beyond Blue.

April – inaugural Beyond Blue Cup played between Hawthorn Hawks and Geelong Cats

June – The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) announces a National Action Plan on Mental Health worth $4 billion over five years ($1.9 billion new funding). $538 million allocated to improve access to health professionals.

July – launch of the Beyond Blue info line (4000 calls in its first three months)

September – KidsMatter program launches with 100 primary schools to participate in the 2-year trial promoting mental health among Australian primary school students

November – The Better Access initiative is implemented, providing Medicare rebates for a range of previously unsubsidised mental health services, including consultations with psychiatrists, GPs, psychologists, social workers and occupational therapists.

The 45 and Up Study aims to recruit 250,000 men and women aged 45 and over living in NSW, making it the largest follow-up study ever conducted in the Southern Hemisphere. The study will provide information about healthy ageing and examine a range of health and lifestyle issues including cancer, depression, heart disease, mental health, arthritis and diabetes.


Drought roundtable discussion

Beyond Blue hosts Drought Roundtable Discussion attended by 80 rural health agencies, farmers’ associations, service organisations, agribusinesses, and state and federal government departments.

Multicultural access to resources 

In partnership with Multicultural Mental Health Australia several Beyond Blue fact sheets translated into a further 19 languages, taking total number of languages other than English to 25. 

Mental health and doctors

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and Beyond Blue partner to tackle high rates of depression/anxiety and suicide in doctors.

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Beyond Blue takes mental health to Australian and international workplaces 

  • 727 workplace training sessions delivered (44,000 employees in 400 organisations)
  • National Workplace Program selected by London-based Sainsbury Centre to be trialled in the United Kingdom

Our work with multicultural communities expands

  • Beyond Blue, in partnership with Multicultural Mental Health Australia launches a range of multilingual fact sheets, TV, radio and print ads 

Growth in perinatal mental health initiatives 

  • $85 million committed by Federal, State and Territory Governments for the Beyond Blue National Perinatal Mental Health Program
  • National Health and Medical Research Council accepts proposal from Beyond Blue for new perinatal mental health clinical guidelines

Responding to national and global issues 

  • Beyond Blue's drought kits containing depression information, a DVD of the ABC Landline program on depression in rural areas and the Taking Care of Yourself and Your Family book by John Ashfield continue to be in demand with more than 70,000 distributed 
  • Following the global economic crisis Beyond Blue created the Looking after yourself after retrenchment or financial loss booklet with more 305,000 copies ordered by those impacted and/or their loved ones 


  • Beyond Blue, with Australian and Victorian Governments, develop a disaster strategy to address mental health issues in bushfire and flood-affected communities in response to the devastating Victorian bushfires and widespread floods in NSW and Queensland
  • Launch of Youth Beyond Blue National Multimedia Campaign. Campaign includes TV, radio and print ads and an updated website. 23 youth-specific fact sheets developed. Youth site attracts 54,000 visitors between May and October 2009.
  • Beyond Blue employed to develop, deliver and evaluate community support training for communities affected by the Victorian bushfires. 50 workshops were delivered to community leaders to improve knowledge, skills and confidence to assist others to seek help and support if needed.
  • Launch of Beyond Blue Guide for Carers and DVD Carers’ Stories of Hope and Recovery


Inaugural VFL Beyond Blue cup  

In May 2009, the Werribee Tigers football team defeated the Box Hill Hawks by 21 points to take out the inaugural Victorian Football League Beyond Blue Cup. Both teams have signed up to play for the annual VFL Beyond Blue Cup until 2012.

“My fiancé has been going through depression … so the kids and I took him to the Bulldogs-Dragons game. That night you were handing out blue wristbands (which) said ‘tackling depression together’ – that night you saved my fiance’s life and you gave him the strength to carry on''.


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distribution 2010-2011

 Anxiety and Depression Awareness Month

Thousands of organisations, workplaces and individuals held “blue-themed” activities for Beyond Blue Anxiety and Depression Awareness Month. More than 142,000 information kits were distributed nationally.

National Workplace Program e-learning pilot

Beyond Blue began working on the first e-learning program in the National Workplace Program (NWP), which is based on the ‘Organisational Awareness’ unit used in the NWP face-to-face workshops. 

Just speak up campaign

Launch of the Just Speak Up Campaign aimed at pregnant women, new mothers, their partners and families. 

“A big thank you for your commercial -

particularly that of Jessica Rowe who bravely revealed her experience with postnatal depression”

email to Beyond Blue 



CEO Dawn O'Neil and Beyond Blue staff.

    • At the beginning of 2011, Beyond Blue CEO Dawn O’Neil took over the reins from Leonie Young who led Beyond Blue from strength to strength for seven and a half years.
    • Beyond Blue launched two new websites; www.theshedonline.org.au for men who don't have access to a community Men's Shed and www.justspeakup.com.au for women experiencing antenatal and postnatal depression and anxiety, and their families.
    • Beyond babyblues - Beyond Blue launched a free, accredited, online mental health training program for health professionals working with women in the perinatal period (during pregnancy and the first year after birth).
    •  View the full annual report 2011-2012


  • 2012


     A new tagline, ‘Depression. Anxiety.’ was added to our logo to give greater clarity and meaning to our work.

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    Beyond Blue welcomed the appointment of Kate Carnell as CEO in March 2012. 


    February  - The first of a series of online e-learning programs for workplaces was launched, accessed by 2,078 workplaces 4,088 times via the Beyond Blue website by 30 June.
    May - The Get to know Anxiety campaign was launched, the centrepiece of which was a short film starring Australian-born and internationally acclaimed actor Ben Mendelsohn.
    July - Facebook and Twitter pages were launched.
    September - Stop. Think. Respect. Campaign was launched focusing on discrimination against lesbian, gay, bi, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people.



    • Beyond Blue launched The Child and Adolescent Bushfire Disaster Response, a ground-breaking approach to support children traumatised by the bushfires that devastated parts of Tasmania in January 2013.
    • 1,700 blueVoices members (30 June 2013).
    • As at June 30 2013, we have 73 members of staff. 
    • Support Service received 76,000 calls in 2012/2013.


    "I visited your website earlier today and firstly wanted to congratulate you on the appearance, excellent content and accessibility I discovered there. It is not often I come across a website that offers such a positive user experience and great information too."

    Veena via email.

    Man therapy

    At the Man Therapy campaign launch in Canberra, from left, Beyond Blue Board Director Professor Brett McDermott, Beyond Blue CEO Kate Carnell AO, Beyond Blue Chairman The Hon. Jeff Kennett AC, Beyond Blue Board Deputy Chair Natasha Stott Despoja AM, the star of the Man Therapy campaign Dr Brian Ironwood and Beyond Blue Board Director Dr Michael Bonning.


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    Bb CEO Georgie Harman_1

    In May 2014, Georgie Harman was appointed CEO of Beyond Blue.

    • Beyond Blue was named in the top ten most reputable Australian charities for the second year running. The Charity Reputation Index 2014, AMR
    • Launch of Beyond Blue’s biggest ongoing ‘travelling event’ - the National Roadshow. A big blue bus travelling 50,000 kilometres to hundreds of towns across Australia to tackle depression, anxiety and suicide by raising awareness at a grassroots level. 


    • Beyond Blue was named as Australia’s fifth most innovative not–for–profit organisation. 
    • 86% of people surveyed were aware of Beyond Blue.
    • From 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016, the Beyond Blue website received more than 7.4 million visits.
    • Beyond Blue became the most followed Australian charity on Facebook in just two years of building a social media profile.
    • In 2015 to 2016, 161,797 people contacted Beyond Blue’s Support Service via phone, online chat and email.
    • During 2015–16, Heads Up supported more than 250,000 employers and employees to create more mentally healthy workplaces.
    • View the full annual report 2015-2016


    • Beyond Blue’s world-first suicide safety planning app, BeyondNow, was released in March 2016.
    • Beyond Blue’s new Healthy Families website was launched giving parents, guardians and people who care for children and young people, access to tailored support and information. www.healthyfamilies.beyondblue.org.au
    • The Healthy Dads project, funded with donations from the Movember Foundation, supports the mental health of men during the transition to fatherhood. As part of the project, Beyond Blue’s new Dadvice web series tells it as it really is. dadvice.org.au
    • In July 2016, Beyond Blue's campaign  ‘You can change this’ was launched. The campaign was a finalist for the 2016 Australian Human Rights Award Racism. It stops with me.


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