Mental health leader and women's advocate recognised with Queen's Birthday honour

Professor Jayashri Kulkarni, Director of the Monash Alfred Psychiatry research centre (MAPrc)

More than 90 of our most notable alumni, staff, former staff and friends have been recognised in the annual Queen's Birthday Honours list, including a fierce advocate of women’s health who is also a migrant, mother and former marathon runner, Professor Jayashri Kulkarni AM, Director of the Monash Alfred Psychiatry research centre (MAPrc).

A world-leading mental health researcher, Professor Kulkarni is now a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for significant service to medicine in the field of psychiatry.

Professor Kulkarni is among many notable staff, alumni, friends and supporters of Monash who have been recognised in the annual Queen’s Birthday Order of Australia Honours list, with all recipients mentioned below. We congratulate them and recognise the wonderful contributions they've made to society.

Professor Kulkarni’s world-first research on the relationship between women’s hormones and mental illness has led to new and improved treatments for conditions such as schizophrenia and depression.

Growing up in Melbourne as an Indian migrant in the 1960s, and studying medicine at Monash in the 1970s, when fewer than one in three students were female, helped instil the strong sense of empathy and social justice that inspired her work.

Professor Kulkarni’s late parents, Rangnath and Shashikala, arrived from Bijapur, southwest of Mumbai, in 1961 with three-year-old Jayashri and her baby brother Anand, now an economist and head of planning at Victoria University.

The White Australia Policy was still in force when they became only the second Indian family to migrate to Melbourne. Rangnath set up the CSIRO’s ozone research program, and Shashikala taught at a local high school.

“At this stage there were probably some people with Italian backgrounds and Greek backgrounds, but not very many Asian migrants at all,” Professor Kulkarni recalls.

“I was called Jane for a few months by this teacher, who said: ‘I can’t say your name, it’s too complicated.’ My mum came to pick me up and she spoke with the teacher, but in a very gentle way, taught her how to pronounce my name, and I was then called Jayashri.”

Working as a young registrar at the former Royal Park Psychiatric Hospital, Professor Kulkarni was drawn to the plight of mothers who had developed mental illness after giving birth.

“I got to meet women who had been institutionalised for a long time, and they told me about the fact that they had children,” she says. “The psychosis had happened post-partum and it hadn’t improved.”

This led to a distinguished career investigating the relationship between hormones at varying life stages and women’s mental illness. World-first oestrogen treatments for psychosis and other mental health conditions have been developed from this research, which began in the late 1980s.

MAPrc now has more than 100 staff and conducts world-leading research on women’s mental health, neuropsychiatric technology, psychopharmacology, psychiatric services and cognitive psychiatry.

“There’s a better understanding of mental ill health, but I think what we need … is more effective treatment without adverse effects,” Professor Kulkarni says. “The better your treatments are, the easier the stigma is to dispel.”

Professor Kulkarni, who has two adult daughters with her neurologist husband, Associate Professor Ernie Butler, and has run four full and five half-marathons, insists her work is a team effort. “It’s not just about my work; it’s about a number of research programs that the staff here are undertaking,” she says.

“When you make even a little difference in somebody’s life … and just improve the quality of their life just a tiny bit, it's so satisfying. It also spurs you on to think, ‘What’s next’?

“It’s always about not ‘settling’. If a person is able to get a bit better, but still not well, that doesn’t mean that you stop. You then try to find the next thing that you can do.”

To view the full Queen’s Birthday 2019 Honours list, visit the website at:

Monash University recipients of the Officer (AO) in the General Division of the Order of Australia include:

Mr Nicholas Cowdery AO QC

Mrs Alison Harcourt AO

Dr Megan-Jane Johnstone AO

Professor Fiona Judd AO

Professor Christina Mitchell AO

Dr Geoffrey Raby AO

Professor Linda Richards AO

Associate Professor Tilman Ruff AO

Dr Carol Schwartz AO

Professor Mark Von Itzstein AO

Monash University recipients of the Member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia include:

Mrs Eliza Ault-Connell AM

Dr Christine Ball AM

Mr Clive Blazey AM

Mr Joseph Borensztajn AM

Associate Professor Tony Buzzard AM

Professor Mary Chiarella AM

Ms Sophie Cunningham AM

Professor Kevin Davis AM

Ms Noeleen Dix AM

Mr John Etherington AM

Dr Josephine Flood AM

Professor Lynn Gillam AM

Professor Lindsay Grayson AM

Professor Michael Grigg AM

Mr Grant Hill AM

Professor Stuart Hooper AM

Professor Geoffrey Isbister AM

Emeritus Professor Jeffrey Jacobs AM

Mr Elias Jreissati AM

Professor Jayashri Kulkarni AM

Adjunct Professor Gilah Leder AM

Dr Andrew Lemon AM

Mr David Li AM

Mr Alastair McEwin AM

Associate Professor Michael Murray AM

Mrs Maggie Niall AM

Mrs Ingrid Ozols AM

Ms Sue Peden AM

Professor Michael Reade AM

Dr Joe Reich AM

Ms Cathie Reid AM

Professor Kerry Reid-Searl AM

Professor Gregory Reinhardt AM

Dr Lindy Roberts AM

Mr Garry Sebo AM

Professor Malcolm Sim AM

Professor Rob Skinner AM

Dr Richard Stark AM

Dr Paul Steinfort AM

Dr David Thurin AM

Dr Mark Toner AM

Dr Susan White AM

Dr Di Winkler AM

Monash University recipients of the Member (AM) in the Military Division of the Order of Australia include:

Royal Australian Navy

Rear Admiral The Honourable Justice Michael Slattery AM

Australian Army

Major General Jake Ellwood DSC AM

Monash University recipients of the Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia in the General Division include:

Mr Ernest Bentley OAM

Mrs Vivien Brass OAM

Ms Anna Brown OAM

Professor Christine Brown OAM

Mrs Barbara Campbell-Allen OAM

Ms Lella Cariddi OAM

Dr Fiona Cochrane OAM

Dr Chris Cunneen OAM

Dr Janice Davies OAM

Dr George Deutsch OAM

Dr Malcolm Dobbin OAM

Dr Robert Gillies OAM

Dr Sylwia Greda-Bogusz OAM

Mr Alain Grossbard OAM

Mr Les Kausman OAM

Mr Myles King OAM

Mr Richard Leder OAM

Ms Joanne Lee Dow OAM

Ms Amanda Martin OAM

Dr David McDonald OAM

Ms Kristy McKellar OAM

Ms Anna Moo OAM

Dr Mary Moran OAM

Mr David Morgan OAM

Mr Clem Newton-Brown OAM

Mr Greg O'Neill OAM

Mr Bill Papastergiadis OAM

Mr Malcolm Parks OAM

Associate Professor Georgia Paxton OAM

Ms Rhonda Renwick OAM

Mr Kenneth Rowe OAM PSM

Mr Garry Runge OAM

Mrs Ruth Scheuer OAM

Mr Peter Sheppard OAM

Mr William Sparks OAM

Dr Deborah Towns OAM

Monash University recipients of the Public Service Medal (PSM) include:

Ms Michelle Lauder PSM

Mr Peter Menkhorst PSM

Monash University recipients of the Australian Police Medal (APM) include:

Detective Senior Sergeant Andrew Gustke APM

Monash University recipients of the Australian Fire Service Medal (AFSM) include:

Mr Martin Braid AFSM