Leadership team for new Queensland youth mental health centre appointed

1 October 2019 

The trio of experienced mental health and education professionals who will lead the team responsible for caring for Queensland young people with the most severe and complex mental health issues has been appointed.

Children’s Health Queensland Chief Executive Frank Tracey today announced the appointment of Dr Arun Pillai as Medical Director and Emma Hart as Assistant Director of Nursing, for the $41.3 million Australian-first adolescent extended treatment centre at Chermside due to open in early 2020.

The Department of Education has also appointed Ben Orford as Head of Campus for the centre’s education and vocational program, which ensures young people can access an integrated education and mental health treatment service.

Dr Arun Pillai is a highly qualified child and adolescent psychiatrist with extensive experience across the public and private mental health sectors in Australia. Most recently he has served as the clinical lead and consultant psychiatrist in child and youth mental health at West Moreton Hospital and Health Service. Prior to this, he worked in an extended mental health treatment setting within the private sector and at Monash Health in Victoria.

Emma Hart brings more than 25 years’ experience in mental health nursing to the role, having worked in consultation liaison, inpatient units, and day programs. Ms Hart led the commissioning of new adolescent inpatient units and day programs in Townsville and the Sunshine Coast University Hospital and has played a leading role in the commissioning of the new adolescent extended treatment centre in Chermside.

Ben Orford has worked in the education and health field for more than 10 years and is passionate about improving education delivery and outcomes for students with chronic health and complex mental health conditions. Prior to this appointment, Mr Orford filled the role of deputy principal at the Queensland Children’s Hospital School.

Children’s Health Queensland Chief Executive Frank Tracey said the leadership appointments were an exciting first step in delivering this important new service for Queensland young people and their families.

“This purpose-built centre will provide a 12-bed residential service for young people across Queensland who are experiencing severe and complex mental health issues and a 10-place day program,” Mr Tracey said.

“The 24-hour service aims to provide a safe, supportive and therapeutic environment for young people, so that they develop life skills and improve function, attend regular schooling or vocational training, and reconnect with their family and local community.

“When it opens next year, the centre will be a key element of Children’s Health Queensland’s broader continuum of mental health care for young Queenslanders. An admission to the centre will be just one phase of the treatment process to support adolescents and their families and carers to recover their health, wellbeing and developmental potential.”

With the leadership positions in place, Children’s Health Queensland has commenced an international search to recruit the 65-strong multidisciplinary team that will staff the centre.  For more information about recruitment, visit https://bit.ly/2mp5FVi

Construction of the centre is progressing on schedule, with activity now focused on internal fitout. Visit http://bit.ly/308ohrg for regular construction updates.


Media contact:  t: +61 7 3068 5111   e: chqnews@health.qld.gov.au