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Trevor and Jaelea

A tribute to our founder

16 August 2016

The Hunter Institute of Mental Health is deeply saddened by the news of the passing of our founding Director Professor Trevor Waring over the weekend.

Professor Waring started the Hunter Institute in Newcastle back in 1992 with only a small part-time team, and through his hard work and dedication saw it become a vibrant and self-funding organisation over the next five years. In 1997, Trevor’s commitment to suicide prevention and mental health changed the course of the Hunter Institute’s work by applying for state and national grants in suicide prevention. This decision paved the way for our organisation to grow from a small not-for-profit in Newcastle, to a nationally recognised leader working in the prevention of mental illness and suicide.   

The success and longevity of our organisation today is in no small part a tribute to the passionate work and vision of a great man, who even after moving on in his career, remained connected and supportive of the Hunter Institute’s work. Trevor almost always attended our local events and would often check in with our current Director Jaelea Skehan to comment on the great work our organisation was doing.

Trevor is a man who will leave the world with so much more that it had before him. His significant contributions to psychology, mental health and suicide prevention were recognised by many accolades through his career.

The calibre of his contributions was recognised in 2004 when he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for his outstanding work in mental health and psychology.

Trevor has left a legacy of work that will live on beyond the years he had with us. But he will be missed.

Trevor had a great commitment to his work which was reflected in the active roles he played throughout his career serving on many important psychology and health councils, boards and committees. Amongst other things, he was chair of the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council, President of the NSW Psychologist Registration Board, Director of the Australian Psychological Society, and was the Chair of the National Council of Psychologists Registration Board for 14 years. Trevor was also proud to have been a Chancellor of the University of Newcastle (one of many roles with the University), and most recently a member of the Hunter New England District Health Board – where Trevor was a constant champion for mental health generally, and the Hunter Institute specifically.

Trevor was very proud of the work the Hunter Institute was doing and recently spoke of how honoured he was to leave such a lasting legacy for mental health and suicide prevention. Not only will he be remembered as a truly amazing and inspiring leader, but he will be fondly remembered by his friends and colleagues for his big personality, his love of a good (or bad) joke and for being a proud family man – husband, father and grandfather.  

He will be sorely missed by all staff who had the honour of working with him, including our Director, to whom he was a great mentor and friend. His work and his way with people will be a big loss for the health service, the university and indeed the community.

Trevor has left a legacy of work that will live on beyond the years he had with us. But he will be missed.

Our thoughts go out to Trevor’s wife, Helen, and their children at this sad time.