The Woodcock Public Lecture is only made possible because Frank Woodcock kindly left $1 million as a gift-in-will donation to Wellways. This lecture has been running for more than 20 years and explores themes surrounding individuals, families and carers impacted by mental health challenges.

Frank Woodcock’s story is the portrayal of a father’s journey as he navigates his son’s mental health issues and the impact on Frank and his family.

Frank’s son, Bruce, was a gentle soul. He had a deeply loving relationship with his brother Ian, who lived with a disability. His mother, a pianist, inspired Bruce’s love of music. He played the piano and loved jazz so much that he studied music for a year in New York.

Bruce was the kind of person who would give his last dollar to someone who needed it more. In fact, one time in New York, he gave a stranger his last $1400, which Bruce had been saving to get him home to Australia.

After returning to Australia in the 1970’s, and facing a marriage break down and the passing of his mum in a short period of time, Bruce began to experience psychosis and paranoia.

When his father discovered Bruce was living with mental health problems, Frank began searching for a facility that could accommodate his son.

After moving into a facility in Melbourne’s north, Bruce did not receive the support or treatment he really needed and sadly, at 32 years of age, Bruce took his life.

No parent can fathom the loss of a child. Just the mere thought of it is too painful to entertain, much less have it become a reality. Despite the family’s fervent efforts to help Bruce, they just could not save him.

Frank loved Bruce deeply and was determined to bring some meaning to his son’s death. He did this by establishing the Woodcock Public Lecture, with the ambition to dispel the stigma and stereotyping surrounding mental health problems and establish learning experiences for people with mental health issues, and their families and carers.

“I don’t think there’s ever enough being done to fight mental [health issues]. When our family needed it 30 years ago, mental health services and support didn’t really exist.”

Frank sadly passed away in 2017. It was his dying wish to help those in pain and continue to raise awareness about the importance of loving, helping and supporting people who experience mental health challenges.

With Frank’s blessing and kind gift-in-will donation, Wellways proudly carries the Woodcock legacy on through the Woodcock Public Lecture.

Each year, we come together to discuss ways we can help improve the lives of individuals and their families and carers affected by mental ill health and keep them close to us, in the community, where they belong.