Vale Emeritus Professor Russell Meares

On June 11th we received the devastating news of Russell Meares’ death.

The notice below is a preliminary one but gives some idea of Russell’s enormous impact, not only on ANZAP, but on the scientific communities of medicine, psychiatry and psychodynamic psychotherapy. 

Professor Russell Meares died this week on Tuesday, 11th June. He died following an admission of around 11 weeks, culminating in a final respiratory illness (pneumonia) which resulted in an acute deterioration over the preceding few days. His wife, Sue, said his ending was peaceful.

Professor Meares made an immense contribution to Psychiatry in Australia and received recognition nationally and internationally for his work. After obtaining his medical degree in Australia, he pursued training in Psychiatry at the Maudsley Hospital in London. During his period in the UK he formed a close relationship with Robert (Bob) Hobson, a Jungian analyst. Working with patients who would now be regarded as having Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), they developed a new approach to psychotherapy that eventually became known as the Conversational Model. Work published by Meares and his colleague Janine Stevenson in the early 1990s was groundbreaking in relation to the treatment of BPD. He has published widely in the areas of psychiatry, psychotherapy, neuroscience and has also published a volume of poetry.

Russell Meares returned to Australia in the late 1970s and became the Foundation Professor of Psychiatry at Westmead, subsequently also serving as Executive Director of Mental Health within the area. During the 1980s Professor Meares pioneered a training program in psychotherapy for psychiatry trainees at Westmead Hospital. Years later, this program was recognised by the University of Sydney, as the Master of Medicine (Psychotherapy) degree program. His work in founding the Conversational Model and the Westmead Psychotherapy Program, together with the University Degree Program, contributed to his national and international recognition. He founded the Australia and New Zealand Association of Psychotherapy (ANZAP) in the 1980s, together with a number of colleagues. In 2007 he was the recipient of the Distinguished Psychiatrist of the Year (UCLA) award, the first non-American to be honoured with this achievement. His seven published books on psychotherapy, in addition to over 300 scientific papers, leave a legacy that will endure for a long time. He retired at the end of 2011.

Following his retirement, he was awarded Emeritus Professor status at the University of Sydney. In his retirement he continued to advise the Westmead Psychotherapy Program and remained active in the Australia and New Zealand Association for Psychotherapy (ANZAP). His legacy includes ongoing training programs provided at Westmead through the University of Sydney and through ANZAP, which provides training to people from both Australia and New Zealand. During his last years he continued writing, lecturing and publishing. He was working on a book on William James, the famous psychologist and philosopher, over the last few years.

Professor Meares has influenced generations of psychiatrists and psychotherapists across Australia and New Zealand, and overseas. He is revered by many and leaves an enduring legacy in Western Sydney and the organizations and programs that he established. He is sorely missed.

Anthony Korner
June 2024


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Key Contact: Anne Malecki. 
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Anne Malecki is responsible for the ANZAP Secretariat. She is the first point of contact for all matters. 

Telephone: AUS (02) 8004 9873