Patrick McGorry is an Irish-born Australian psychiatrist, who, as a medical student in the 1970s, became deeply disturbed by the gross neglect of the human rights of the mentally ill, and the discrimination they and their families faced. After several years as a doctor, he decided to become a psychiatrist, with the aim of finding a way to help develop humane systems of care. He realised that this would need completely new cultures of care, based on hope, respect and new scientific evidence.
Severe mental illness and addiction has profoundly affected the lives of several members of his immediate family, including his brother, Hugh, who died 20 years ago at the age of 37. These personal experiences have reinforced his commitment to justice and equity in health care for the mentally ill.
His selection as 2010 Australian of the Year created new opportunities to advocate publicly through the media and with sympathetic political leaders, for a fair deal for the mentally ill and their families. However he gradually became convinced that the making the case on the basis of humanity, logic, and scientific evidence has simply not worked. He is convinced that the missing ingredient is the collective voice of the 4 million Australians directly affected by mental illness as well as their families and friends.