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    Building a Strong Mental Health Lived Experience Workforce Through National Connection

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    Event description

    Commencing the conversation around connecting Lived Experience workers through a national community of practice to strengthen and support this vital workforce.

    The Mental Health Lived Experience workforce* plays an essential, and increasingly growing, role in the provision of quality, recovery-focused mental health services in Australia. A vibrant and diverse community grounded in the principles of social justice and human rights, Lived Experience workers offer unique insights, skills, and qualities shaped by their personal journeys of overcoming challenges and navigating the mental health system as well as the collective experiences of the consumer and carer movements. They leverage their own transformative experiences to support others on their paths to recovery and healing. Lived Experience workers also face distinct challenges, due to the nature of their roles, which may be exacerbated in regional and underserved areas.  

    The Allied Health Academy will be hosting a panel discussion on Thursday, May 16th to start a conversation on whether connecting Lived Experience workers through a national community of practice would strengthen and support this vital workforce. Panel members and participants will be invited to share their perspectives on:  

    • The importance of inclusive connection across roles, regions and sectors;  
    • Strategies for building capacity;  
    • Cultivating leadership within the Lived Experience workforce; and  
    • Opportunities for global networking and discussion.  

    If you are unable to attend the webinar but would like to contribute your insights, you are welcome to complete this survey (closing Tuesday 14 May). We value inclusivity and want to offer everyone the opportunity to participate in shaping the conversation, regardless of whether they are available to attend on the day.  

    If the workforce would value a national community, a series of webinars for the coming months will be developed from the participant and survey feedback, tailored for individuals working in or with the Mental Health Lived Experience workforce, but welcoming all stakeholders in a robust and supportive mental health system.  

    By fostering dialogue among the Lived Experience workforce and engaging with global industry leaders, we aim to support the cultivation of a dynamic community that plays a pivotal role in the delivery of high-quality, recovery-focused mental health services, while supporting the workers to continue on their own personal and professional journeys.

    A panel of representatives with expertise in Mental Health Lived Experience from the following organisations:

    • First Nations representatives (2) – Black Dog Institute
    • NSW Mental Health Commission
    • Mental Health Matters 2 Ltd

    This webinar aims to offer robust discussion with opportunity for attendees to take part in the discussion.

    * Lived Experience (Peer) LE workers who are in designated personal LE and LE of caring and family roles in a range of settings (incl. direct support, healthcare, research, education) where it is a requirement for LE expertise to be developed through training, development and co-reflection/supervision in the peer discipline.

    Meet Your Webinar Host:

    Joan Leo, Learning Product Manager, The Allied Health Academy. 

    Joan is an allied health professional and learning and development specialist with over 20 years experience in the health and higher education sectors. Joan brings educational expertise, creativity and innovation to The Allied Health Academy (TAHA) to support delivering education experiences and fostering communities of practice that connect and empower learners. 

    Meet Your Webinar Panelists (listed alphabetically):

    Margaret Doherty, Founder/Chairperson of Mental Health Matters 2 Ltd (MHM2).

    Margaret Doherty is the Founder/Chairperson of Mental Health Matters 2 Ltd (MHM2), a lived experience led charity which acts to achieve positive, effective systems change with and for individuals and families with experiences of mental health, alcohol and other drug use challenges and involvement with the criminal justice system.   In her leadership and advocacy roles Margaret combines her lived experience expertise gained as a family member in the above areas and learnings from her professional background in Lived Experience (Peer) work; small business, community-based corrective services, education and independent consultancy.  Since 2010, Margaret has held leadership roles on a number of strategic committees in the mental health, health, alcohol and other drug areas.  These include: Chair of the independent Mental Health Advisory Council; Co-chair of the Steering Committee for the WA Lived Experience (Peer) Workforce Framework development and implementation; Deputy co-chair for the National Lived Experience (Peer) Workforce Development Guidelines   Margaret was a Faculty Mentor for Yale Medical School's 2023 LET(s) Transformational Leadership program in Australia and is a strong advocate for the development and embedding of diverse and sustainable Lived Experience (Peer) workforces in a range of roles and settings.    

    Michael Elwan, General Manager Outreach Richmond Wellbeing.

    Michael Elwan, originally from Alexandria, Egypt, and now residing in Perth, Western Australia, is a devoted mental health advocate, driven by his profound personal experiences. At just 14, Michael began caring for his father, an Air Force General whose post-war challenges were compounded by a stroke that resulted in blindness. This marked the beginning of his role as a primary caregiver. At 16, after his father’s death, he became the sole carer for his mother, supporting her through her intense mental health struggles. Tragically, after more than a decade of caregiving, she took her own life. These experiences have deeply shaped his commitment to mental health advocacy. Holding a Bachelor of Business (Accounting), an MBA with Distinction, a Graduate Certificate in Mental Health, a Diploma in Psychology, and two MicroMasters degrees—one in Business Leadership and another in Organisational Psychology—Michael is currently pursuing a PhD focused on the role of lived experience in shaping mental health policy and services. As the General Manager of Outreach at Richmond Wellbeing, he leads a variety of mental health services, bringing a culturally diverse perspective and a commitment to collaborative practices that ensure inclusivity and effectiveness. An active member of Suicide Prevention Australia and the Alliance Against Depression, Michael is dedicated to enhancing intersectional sensitivity and pushing for significant reforms to make mental health care more inclusive and accessible.

    Tim Heffernan, Deputy Commissioner with The Mental Health Commission of NSW.

    Tim Heffernan is Deputy Commissioner with The Mental Health Commission of NSW. An experienced peer worker, Tim is a current Director and past chair of Being (previously NSW Consumer Advisory Group) and chair of the NSW Public Mental Health Consumer Workers Committee. He was co-Chair of the National Mental Health Commission’s Stigma and Discrimination Reduction Strategy and was Deputy co-chair of the Peer Workforce Development Guidelines Steering Committee. Tim worked as Mental Health Peer Coordinator with the South Eastern NSW PHN from 2017 until June 2022 and is currently an Official Visitor with the NSW Official Visitor Program.  

    Eliza Kitchener, Coordinator of the National Network of First Nations Lived Experience Voices at the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Centre.
    Eliza Kitchener is a Wiradjuri and Dharawal woman (she/her), from Darkinjung Country (Central Coast, NSW). Eliza has a community services background, holding undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications in her passion area of culturally responsive and trauma-informed practice. Eliza lectures on Social Work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. In her role at the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Centre, Eliza coordinates the activities of the National Network of First Nations Lived Experience voices. Eliza has worked with Aboriginal people and communities across remote and urban settings, with a particular focus in working with First Nations youth and women facing homelessness and domestic and family violence. Most importantly, Eliza uses her lived experience of facing suicidality as a young Aboriginal woman as well as responding to and advocating for others experiencing mental health crises, alongside her passion for cultural approaches to healing, to inform her work and life.

    Travis Shorey, Previous NQ Principal Policy Officer & current Senior Social Worker with Sunshine Coast HHS, Queensland Health + National BDI LE Member.

    Travis belongs to the Mbabaram people (Walsh & Wild River Catchment) and Guugu Yimithirr people (Cooktown Region), and also has Australian lineage (England & Scottish). He is currently based in Eumundi and is a Principal Policy Officer and Senior Social Worker at Mbabaram Aboriginal Cooperation. Travis holds lived experience, with regards to personal and professional losses to suicide, and originally developed ‘YouMe~WhichWay’ in 2012 with Standby: Support After Suicide, piloted in five Aboriginal Communities across Queensland and Tasmania. At the time, he also conceptualised ‘Booin Gari’ an annual Sunshine Coast community festival that imparts cultural strengthens and stories alike. With over 25 years’ experience Travis has worked professionally in the mental health & social welfare sector, and effectively shared this knowledge across an array of community settings and at bureaucratic levels. With his empathic drive, Travis has relished extensive community engagements with numerous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people & Aussie folks across the country, and continues to passionately advocate for better cultural safety, cultural competence, worker-wellbeing and relevant models of care that reflect evidence, best practice and community principles locally.

    This webinar is brought to you by The Allied Health Academy. Learn more about our online community of practice: free to join.

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