Media Releases
Media Resources


UOW Media Office, T: +61 4221 4227 | E:



Support program for people with Borderline Personality Disorder launched

International conference unveils alternative model of care

A project that presents guidelines on how to run a peer support workshop for people living with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) was launched at an international conference at the University of Wollongong (UOW) recently (Friday 3 November).

Project Air Peers involves a structured 10 session peer support program for people with BPD. The peer support program is co-facilitated by a peer facilitator and a mental health clinician.

Professor Brin Grenyer, from UOW’s School of Psychology and the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute, said:

“Peer support is a method where individuals with similar experiences can assist others to share experience, knowledge, instil hope and offer support and role modelling.

“Yet, peer support interventions have been minimally developed or adapted for individuals with lived experience of BPD.

“With long wait-lists for specialist interventions within mainstream services for BPD and desire for individuals with lived experience for additional structured support, alternative models of providing care are warranted.”

Project Air Peers was launched as a prelude to the 11th International Conference on the Treatment of Personality Disorders, opened by the CEO of the National Mental Health Commission, Dr Peggy Brown.

This year’s conference, ‘Understanding narcissistic personalities and other relationship complexities’, showcased a strong cast of international experts.

Keynote presenter Professor Elsa Ronningstam is a clinical psychologist in the Gunderson Outpatient Program and the Adult Outpatient Clinic at McLean Hospital in the US and a Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

Diagnosis and treatment of narcissistic personality disorder is her prime specialty and she has over the past 25 years authored more than 80 publications, and has given more than 100 presentations, lectures, and courses both nationally and internationally.

Professor Grenyer noted that the pre-conference Consumer and Carer Day was a first for Project Air.

“The Consumer and Carer Day will feature talks about lived experiences from consumer and carer perspectives, practical psychoeducation and skills-based sessions, orientation to the health service discussion, and there will be a roundtable to inform the key priorities for personality disorder into the future,” he said.

The conference is now in its 11th year and is the only research-focused conference on personality disorders of its kind in Australia.

More than 430 people attended over the three days, with delegates from across Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, the United States and United Kingdom.

Main image, left to right: Ann Bennis; Louise Fisher; Renee Harvey, Dr Peggy Brown CEO, National Mental Health Commission; Professor Brin Grenyer; Professor Elsa Ronningstam, Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital (USA; Professor David Winter, University of Hertfordshire (UK); and Dr Michelle Townsend.


Project Air is a Personality Disorders Strategy that aims to enhance treatment options for people with Personality Disorder and their families and carers. It seeks to engage the community, families, carers, consumers and health and drug and alcohol services and agencies, to support better treatments for personality disorders. Project Air Strategy for Personality Disorders is a partnership between the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute at the University of Wollongong and the NSW Ministry for Health and Local NSW Health Districts.

For more information visit 

Posted in Health and Medicine
Tagged: Psychology


  • L to R: Ann Bennis, Louise Fisher, Renee Harvey, Dr Peggy Brown CEO, National Mental Health Commission, Professor Brin Grenyer, Professor Elsa Ronningstam, Professor David Winter and Dr Michelle Townsend