Air Academy

The Air Academy is a consultation community linking clinicians, schools, and people with lived experience together to enhance best-practice treatment, education and training, and conduct priority research.

Lived Experience Air Academy

The Lived Experience Air Academy is a forum for people with lived experience of personality disorder (consumers, family members, carers, peers) to meet together and discuss priorities, future directions and current work. The Academy contributes to Project Air's Mission "to support compassionate, evidence-based treatment and recovery for people with personality disorder and related conditions".

The Lived Experience Air Academy aims to:

  • Expand the partnership between Project Air Strategy and the lived experience community;
  • Enhance the co-design of research, resources, training and treatment of people with lived experience, including those in peer worker or support roles;
  • Identify and collaborate on research priorities for people with lived experience;
  • Contribute centrally to meetings and events (e.g. Awareness Week, International Conferences);
  • Provide insight into how Project Air Strategy can support the lived experience community;
  • Raise the profile of the lived experience voice by formally embedding consultation and co-design;
  • Provide a platform for people with lived experience to come together to discuss ideas and future directions;
  • Bridge the gap between the lived experience community and research and treatment projects, by providing a platform for shared understanding and priority development.

The Lived Experience Air Academy positions are currently filled.

If you would like to be kept informed of any new calls for expressions of interest you can join our mailing list and follow our social media for updates.

Air Academy for Stepped Care Clinics

The original Air Academy was launched in Sydney on 1 September 2017 for clinical coordinators and senior leaders involved in stepped care personality disorders services (Gold Card Clinics).

The Academy, organised on a hub and spoke model, is served by a central coordinating service at the Project Air Strategy headquarters, and engages with health service senior executive, service managers, clinical directors, coordinators of Gold Card Clinics, and clinicians. The Academy supports the implementation and sustainability of stepped care personality disorder services, and provides ongoing guidance and leadership to support best-practice.

The Air Academy helps to:

  • Maintain strong links between the Project Air Strategy team and local brief intervention (Gold Card) clinic coordinators;
  • Provide an opportunity for coordinators to meet each other, share their expertise and local solutions;
  • Provide access to training and train-the-trainer resources to support local staff development and training needs within the clinics;
  • Provide updates on evidence-based practice, scientific findings, and opportunities for consultation and professional development;
  • Motivate staff to maintain compassionate care for consumers and their families with personality disorder and complex needs.

The Air Academy provides a number of supports and resources. Example activities supporting the core strategies include:

  • Connects a community of practice, linking coordinators with a broader interstate network to support best-practice, and share resources and projects;
  • Access to bespoke support to provide individualised guidance and resources for launch, re-launch, and sustainability via the Project Air Strategy liaison;
  • Provides professional development specific to Academy Fellows, including train-the-trainer resources, to ensure local implementation teams have the resources to support clinicians on the ground;
  • Access to latest research and treatment developments through invited attendance at the Project Air Strategy annual conference;
  • Opportunities to contribute to ongoing research to inform service development and evidence-based practices;
  • Ongoing access to e-learning professional development, webinars and online resources through the Project Air Strategy website.

At the second meeting of the Air Academy in June 2018 Dr Murray Wright said the formation of the Project Air Academy represents an important point of maturity in the State's goal of improving services for people with personality disorder. He cited evidence from the Project Air Strategy and internationally which shows that typical savings from implementing specific care can be substantial - not only for hospitals and governments, but also more importantly for the consumers and carers with lived experience.

You can read Dr Wright’s full speech below.

Membership is currently open to clinic coordinators of personality disorder treatment programs. 

If you are interested in becoming a member of Air Academy please email Project Air.

Child and Adolescent Air Academy

The Project Air Academy for Child and Youth was established to connect and support staff engaged in work with child and youth services in health, education, and the community. The Child and Youth Air Academy was launched in December 2023. The first academy meeting was held in Feb 2024.

The Child and Youth Air Academy, organised on a hub and spoke model, is coordinated at the Project Air Strategy headquarters, but comprises members of the academy working in Health and Education. The Academy facilitates, develops, and supports programs for children and youth and their families and carers. The Air Academy includes leaders and coordinators from:

  • school psychologists
  • school counsellors
  • school wellbeing staff
  • child and adolescent health workers
  • School Link co-ordinators

The key projects that the Air Academy supports includes:

  • Project Air Schools (i.e., Train the Trainer program)
  • Adolescent Intervention (i.e., treatment guidelines)
  • Air Therapy
  • Air Pockets (a new pre-adolescent program being developed).

The following speech was delivered by the NSW Chief Psychiatrist, Dr Murray Wright, on the occasion of the opening of the second meeting of the Project Air Academy, at the Sydney Business School Circular Quay, on Friday 8th June 2018.

“Welcome. I’m here as a representative of New South Wales Health, the senior clinical representative within the Ministry and with the Minister’s Office. I can say with great confidence that we really notice the difference that has happened with the rollout of Project Air across the districts and we are very appreciative of the value that this Project has brought to our services. I think it is a really important initiative and it is transformative. A lot of things that we call transformative or innovative are not, they are just a re-packaging of something we already knew or that we ought to have been doing. But I think Project Air is actually a real model of translational research. So, all of us in the room and all of our services are actually part of the Project Air Strategy. The idea is that anyone who has a role in mental health, in our public sector services, or deals with people who have mental health issues, ought to know something about Project Air and personality disorders. It is all about getting better outcomes for the consumers who use our services, for their families, and for the communities that they live in. The formation of this Air Academy represents an important maturational point for the Project. People who suffer from personality disorder in our services have been either neglected or downright rejected from our system over many years, and in fact it was sometimes grounds for exclusion from services other than short begrudging crisis services. This Project has re-defined the boundaries of our services and our responsibilities.

The Air Academy is a "brains trust" of experts from the university and clinical leaders in the health districts. It is really important that the clinical leadership is here, because translational research does not happen if you have clinicians saying “That’s all very well in terms of your literature and your research, but that’s not actually going to help us; it doesn’t match with the realities of what we’re doing.” It is absolutely critical that the clinical representatives, who are the main people that I represent, really engage in a forthright manner with this Project. We support stepped care. Stepped care for me is about identifying a particular person’s needs through a careful assessment and careful negotiation with an individual, and helping to develop a plan with that person which meets their actual needs. So the goal is for there to be a better, smoother, and more effective journey for people accessing mental health care and I think Project Air gives us, not just the guidelines, but it gives us a framework to work within our resources and within our services. The Gold Card Brief Intervention Clinics play an important role in transitioning people from acute care services to longer properly planned and targeted services in the community. It is not just about saving money, it is about delivering better care. The evidence is that if we do this properly, we reduce the instances of people requiring our emergency services, and we also reduce the incidence of all the comorbidities that occur to people who have an unmanaged mental health problem in their teens and twenties.

It gives me some pleasure to note that my previous job was as the Director of Mental Health at South-Eastern Sydney and when I started in that job in February 2012, one of the first clinical council meetings that I had was an introduction to Brin Grenyer and the initial roll out of Project Air. So I saw first-hand as I was settling into that role what a huge difference it made from my perspective to the confidence of the clinicians. And I think that is really important, as a lot of what was previously bad practice was out of fear, ignorance, and stigma. I watched it give confidence to the clinicians and I watched that then spread over to the emergency departments and actually change the way in which people engage with consumers in crisis.

Project Air is actually quite a cultural influence in emergency environments, and it is also pleasing to see that it is being picked up in Justice Health, in our Drug and Alcohol services, the non-government sector and also into our schools to help people to have the skills earlier. This is what it means to be a whole government and a whole of community approach. You have all become ambassadors for Project Air, I congratulate you for your interest, and wish you well for a productive second meeting of the Air Academy. Thankyou.”