Keith Mahar is an activist, mental health advocate and social worker in Canberra, Australia. He holds degrees in business and social work and is employed as a peer support worker in the Personal Helpers and Mentors Program (PHaMs), a key Australian Government initiative in the National Action Plan on Mental Health 2006-2011.
Keith was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1996. After immigrating to Australia from Canada in 2001, he became active in the mental health community, which he identifies as a turning point in his own recovery. He has been involved local, national and international mental health initiatives, including positions as president, Mental Illness Education ACT (MIEACT); executive committee member, blueVoices (beyondblue); and delegate to the Stigma and Discrimination Group, International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership (IIMHL).
Keith’s personal recovery is documented in the short film The Naked Advocate, produced by E.C. Warner in 2006 for the Hope Awards, as well as other information on http://www.keithmahar.com.
Since that time, Keith has given a presentation on his own recovery at the World Psychiatric Association International Congress 2007; completed a social work degree at the Australian Catholic University; and launched Mentalympians® an online community channel initiative described by the Mental Health Council of Australia (MHCA) as “a world first website which is all about mental health recovery and resilience.”
A 2004 ACT Volunteer of the Year Award nominee, Keith is a volunteer educator for MIEACT; sits on the Recovery Plan Implementation Advisory Group for Mental Health ACT; and was an ambassador to ACE National (the peak body representing Australia’s Disability Employment Network) from 2009 – 2011.
Formerly a manager at Canadian broadcaster CHUM Limited, Keith is a precedent-setting public interest litigant (Mahar v. Rogers Cablesystems Ltd., 1995) who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder while campaigning for an investigation into potential unlawful activities at the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). Parliamentarian Dan McTeague subsequently commissioned him to research how to reform that Commission, resulting in a 1999 joint submission to the Liberal Caucus Group on the CRTC, entitled A View to Democratizing the CRTC.
Keith’s 2007 research report respecting a corporate welfare scheme for Canadian media companies, entitled Profiteering in the Name of Culture, is available on the CRTC’s public file and Friends of Canadian Broadcasting’s website. His related presentation at a CRTC public hearing in 2008 resulted in Canadian parliamentary debate, the second time that he influenced parliamentary debate in that country on the issue as a private citizen.
On 3 June 2010, documents respecting a related case of long-term systemic corruption at the CRTC were delivered to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, including correspondence by Canberra lawyer Paul Armarego, on behalf of Keith. At issue is a regulatory scheme that has cost citizens more than $1.2 billion and unjustly enriched several Canadian media tycoons. Documents related to this ongoing matter are posted online at www.keithmahar.com.