"David Cappo has played a leading role in moving social inclusion to the heart of mental health reform in Australia. Building on his work in South Australia, he assumed a position of national leadership in mental health, working tirelessly and effectively for transformational reform. He is committed to a radical holistic approach to mental health care with a strong social justice agenda. In addition to his moral and intellectual leadership, he displays valuable personal and political skills. Today, he is one of Australia's leading social justice thinkers with an ability to translate concepts into the real world of peoples' lives."
Professor Patrick McGorry AO Professor, Centre for Youth Mental Health, The University of Melbourne
Executive Director OYH Research Centre
2010 Australian of the Year
Monsignor David Cappo has for a decade been a leader in social policy reform in Australia and is now is a key resource available to governments, business and industry and community organisations.
He was Chair of South Australia’s innovative Social Inclusion initiative and was appointed Social Inclusion Commissioner by the Premier Mike Rann. He has been a key adviser to the Federal Government on social policy and mental health reform and was Deputy Chair of the Federal Social Inclusion Board established by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
In 2012 David Cappo was appointed Senior Research Fellow in the School of Social and Policy Studies at Flinders University.
Also this year, he assisted in social policy reforms in the United States; particularly programs to reduce homelessness and the development of locally based solutions to serious social problems. He worked as an advisor to Community Solutions, founded by Rosanne Haggerty from Common Ground and participated in her homelessness and community development initiative in New York City.
In South Australia his key achievements include:
- Reduced ‘rough sleeping’ in inner city Adelaide by 50%
- Raised school retention rates to 84 % in 2010, up from 67 per cent a decade earlier.
- Oversaw the transformation of the mental health system to a community based, stepped system of care
- Produced socially innovative responses to the problem of youth offending
- Designed a blueprint for of the reform of the disability system
As the first independent advisor to the Executive Committee of State Cabinet, he worked at the highest levels to direct the implementation of the South Australian Strategic Plan in relation to social targets and outcomes.
He also introduced a new governance model that created linkages between government departments to more effectively deliver social programs, an approach supported by the World Health Organisation (WHO) Social Determinants of Health Report (2008).
In November 2012 David Cappo addressed the Symposium on Mental Health and Social Inclusion, held in Atlanta, Georgia, at the Carter Center. This symposium is Chaired by Mrs Rossyln Carter, former First Lady of the United States. At this symposium David Cappo addressed the strategies used in the social inclusion plans in South Australia to reform the mental health system and to tackle homelessness with joined up policies across a wide range of government departments, agencies and community groups.
David Cappo was born and educated in South Australia. From 1972, he worked as a community welfare officer and later senior community welfare officer in the City of Elizabeth. He worked with juvenile offenders, neglected and abused children, families in need, and community organisations. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Social Work from the South Australian Institute of Technology (now the University of South Australia).
An ordained Catholic Priest, he recently concluded 12 years as Vicar General (equivalent to Chief Executive of a major organisation) of the Archdiocese of Adelaide.
David Cappo is a key resource available to advise governments and community organisations at the highest level of social policy development. He can monitor and evaluate existing programs and provide strategic advice on government priorities.
He is available to advise business and industry on their strategic planning, the management of their corporate social responsibilities, and the incorporation of 21st century leadership dynamics.