I have been working as a Carer Consultant at the Royal Children’s Hospital since 2014. Prior to moving to Australia, I was a travel agent and interpreter in Hungary, which taught me how to communicate and connect with others effectively, and this has served me well in my current role. I build on my personal experience as a migrant to advocate for people from a culturally and linguistically diverse background. I am also passionate about developing more tailored systems, processes and frameworks for child and adolescent mental health.
Social justice, local communities and family traditions are all very important to me. I’ve been a volunteer at a Salvos store for a long time, and more recently also at a social enterprise supporting refugees.
Just like my paid work and volunteering, the things I enjoy most in my free time - such as travel, cooking, reading and crafts - help me to connect with people, cultures and ideas.
I am excited to be a part of the LLLC as I think the lived experience workforce are changemakers.
I have worked as a consumer consultant in both youth and adult mental health services in the community sector at cohealth and Western Region Health Centre. The people I work with inform, challenge and inspire me. It’s their ideas and creativity that have driven change and continue to drive change.
I am the consumer and carer engagement officer at the Mental Health Tribunal and a member of VMIAC’s Committee of Management. This is an exciting opportunity to expand the lived experience workforce whilst holding the values and principles of lived experience as our guiding light.
I have been fortunate to have been part of the consumer workforce development group at DHHS, and driving the consumer workforce strategy is a priority, which includes education, training, supervision, research and evaluation as essential aspects of expanding this workforce well into the future.
I have worked across the last 15 years providing a consumer lived experience perspective within community and clinical mental health services. This work has led me into collaboration with leadership, reviewing frameworks and supporting further developments for the lived experience workforce.
I am passionate about and dedicated to offering a strengths-based connection to others in their wellbeing. I also enjoy facilitating supervisory partnerships with peers and creating mutually shared spaces of learning together in work practice.
I have a Vocational Grad. Cert. in Consumer Engagement, Certificate IV in Mental Health, and am trained in Advanced Intentional Peer Support, Emotional CPR, and Consumer Perspective Supervision.
My contribution to the Live Learn Lead Collective stems from a desire to facilitate new pathways for the lived experience workforce to be valued and engaged in meaningful training and development opportunities. I am driven to support change and growth, with tangible outcomes - utilizing the LLLC’s collective wisdom and connection - to ultimately benefit the care of consumers and families, carers and supporters.
In my personal time I appreciate a good cup of tea with conversation, any physical exercise – golf, walking, circuit training, time to reflect, and relaxing with my furbaby.
I have 4 years experience working in designated consumer lived experience positions across the Forensic mental health sector and NDIS. Currently, I work as Forensicare’s Peer Workforce Coordinator where I lead implementation & development of the Peer Workforce.
I am passionate about delivering and harnessing a strength based, supported recovery for all marginalised people in complicated systems.
My own self care usually involves driving and tinkering with my WRX or playing with my four-legged friend, Forrest.
Caroline Walters is a Senior Family Carer Researcher, within the Research Team at Tandem, the Victorian peak body for family, carers and supporters in mental health. Prior to this, Caroline worked as a lived experience advisor, working on advocacy for families within Victoria’s Mental Health System Reform, including initiatives around the family carer workforce and the new Mental Health and Wellbeing Act. Caroline has a long-term career working in health care research and is currently undertaking a PhD, at Monash University, exploring participatory methods to elevate and engage family voices in mental health system change. Caroline worked alongside A/Prof Melissa Petrakis and the NMHCCF to explore the experiences of family, carers and supporters during COVID-19.
As a supporter of people with mental health challenges and encountering a mental health system from the other side, she has experienced a new set of challenges and drivers. Through meeting mental health families and carers, working with Tandem, Caroline has witnessed the power of the collective. Caroline seeks, through collective power, to understand questions and evidence that meet the needs of and support family and carers.
I began Lived Experience work in 2016 at the Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council (VMIAC), educating consumers on navigating the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). I worked as a consumer consultant at Inner West Area Mental Health Service, chairing the Consumer Advisory Group (C:/Drive), running consumer-led sessions for student nurses, providing feedback, encouraging co-design/co-production, and advocating for change.
My fondest professional memories involve touring "NDIS the Musical" throughout the state and up the eastern coast. At CMHL, I support the growing consumer workforce in embedding the lived experience voice across the public mental health sector. I have a background in the arts and education, both of which continue to be my preferred therapeutic outlets. I am passionate about transparency, the recovery model, trauma informed care, supported decision making, dual diagnosis, de-stigmatising & normalising mental health matters, and will happily monologue at length on the power of diversity, storytelling and hope.
I am excited to be a part of the Live Learn Lead Collective, bringing the family/carer lens to this innovative and progressive space.
I became part of the Family/carer lived experience workforce in 2017, joining St Vincent’s Mental Health in the Carer Consultant role. I also work for Tandem in the role of Carer Lived Experience Advisor and am an active member of the CLEW – Carer Lived Experience Workforce Group.
I bring to the LLE Collective a grass roots perspective of the Family/carer LE workforce and the desire to extend my workplace roles in systemic advocacy and direct peerwork to a broader landscape of workforce development.
I believe this is an opportunity to positively contribute to the process growing sustainable & safe lived experience workplace practices and pathways for these workforces, that is embedded in all levels of service delivery, policy and governance.
Before I began my journey as a lived experience worker 8 years ago, I hoped there was a way to be a productive part of the workforce whilst being true and sharing the best of myself. It comes as a surprise to many that what we learn from our suffering can become our gift to the world.
Moving across different roles and work environments has helped me see Lived Experience as a distinct discipline that can be applied in many different ways. I’m passionate about creating new structures, systems and processes in the mental health system that welcome a wide range of people to learn from each other and create meaningful change.
I have living experience as a carer for young family members with mental health challenges, neurodiversity and disability. In our home we embrace disability and neurodiversity pride. I bring to the LLLC living experience of three areas-mental health, disability and the NDIS. I believe all recovery is relational and what motivates me in my work is radical acceptance – I want to change the systems we live in so that all forms of diversity are supported, accepted and honoured.
I live regionally but not too far from Melbourne so have been able to relatively easily access bed based clinical mental health supports for family members in both public and private hospitals in Melbourne. But I am acutely aware of how difficult it is for families and carers who live rurally or remotely to access the help they need. I would like to make sure that a non-urban experience of mental health caring is on the table through the work of the LLLC.
I have worked as the Carer Consultant in the 0-25 age group for seven years at a regional health service . I love working in the child and youth space and find hope and recovery very much a focus of the clinical teams I work with, which flows onto the families, carers and supporters accessing our service. My particular interests relate directly to my living experience and are: girls and women with autism, lesser known eating disorders, young men’s mental health and the gendered divide in caring and how this impacts (particularly) women’s lives.
I also work for Headspace National as an online peer moderator.
Before moving into this field, I freelanced as a business writer, doing marketing and desk top publishing in a variety of industries including, financial services, telecommunications and building services. Outside of work I love spending time with my family and friends, going to see live music and anything to do with design and architecture.
With an extensive Mental Health history spanning across a decade, I endeavor to utilise my experiences to support others as they move through life with mental ill health and undertake the depleting challenge of navigating healthcare services and systems.
From the enormity of my pain has come immense meaning. My work has afforded me the opportunity to make greater sense of the nonsensical, to develop belonging and obtain fulfilment.
At present, I work in a Living Experience/Peer Support capacity splitting my time between a Youth Designated service with Neami National and the Emergency Department of The Royal Melbourne Hospital. Previously, I have worked with St Vincent’s Hospital’s Safe Haven Café and Emergency Department and consulted with Eastern Health’s CYMHS to co-produce youth specific projects and research.
Increasing choice and safety, amplifying voices, normalising mental health experiences in addition to survival responses and strategies, are acts I take great pride in. These acts sit alongside the values I hold dear; transparency, trust, acknowledgement, mutuality, curiosity and championing.
I always had strong roots in social justice in both employment and community engagement, but the Mental Health sector was one place I felt I would never venture for so many reasons. When my curiosity was sparked by the vacancy of a Peer Support Worker role in a community mental health organisation in 2016, it would turn out that the very reasons I had long stayed away would become my greatest drivers for working within. I believe that by raising the voices of consumer and carers and placing lived experience at the forefront of how we approach, design and deliver service, we can achieve system reform and significant collective healing along the way.
Now as an educator and facilitator, a significant focus of my role has evolved into furthering the understanding and diversification of how we view lived experience. I have developed training to support the integration of lived experience roles within different service types and settings across the country. Currently, an important part of my work is supporting the organisation to examine its understanding of the role of lived experience through a large-scale, human centred, co-design project. I am determined to ensure that the right voices are at the forefront of conversations, decision-making and organisational outcomes.
I began getting involved in consumer Lived Experience work in 2016 when I got involved in a codesigned research and evaluation opportunity at Neami National. From there I went on to complete my cert iv in mental health peer work. I now work at St Vincent’s as a consumer consultant and am passionate about changing services to better meet the needs of consumers. I have also been involved with Mind Australia as a peer researcher. My work is informed by my lived experience and a deep understanding for the impacts of trauma and the way it impacts people’s lives and coping strategies.
I am passionate about helping provide safe, supportive, inclusive spaces for the LEW to continue to grow and develop.
In my spare time I enjoy a quite get together with friends, board games, listening to podcasts and learning new things.
I have worked as a Family Carer Consultant/Carer Peer Worker for the last 6 years in both Community Mental Health and Public Mental Health and am currently the Family Carer Consultant at Eastern Health Child and Youth Mental Health Service. Prior to this I worked as a Telephone Counsellor at Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia (PANDA) and as a Primary School Teacher before that.
In my role as Family Carer Consultant I provide leadership and coordination to enhance the promotion and participation of families to provide a family/carer perspective into service development, contribution to the review and development of policy and practice guidelines. Additionally I provide peer support to families of young people with a mental illness. My carer lived experience includes BPD, AOD as well as mental health and the criminal justice system. I also have a special interest in perinatal mental health and childhood attachment.
I am the mother of two teenagers, a daughter and a son, as well as my fur baby and a nana to my baby grandson. I am a passionate football fan supporting the ‘Mighty Bombers’. I enjoy my daily iced coffee, rain, hail or shine and throw in the occasional hot coffee to warm the bones in winter.
I have been a consumer worker for over 20 years, entering into this work because of the experiences I had using services and meeting with other consumers. I had worked as a nurse in Oncology and Palliative care and was disturbed by the treatment I received in the health system that I was a part of.
My work is shaped by these experiences and my work in strategic leadership positions in health services, on Ministerial committees and in large national and international research projects. I have experience as Chair of the Victorian Mental Illness Awareness council (VMIAC, 2014 – 2019), member of the Speaking from experience group (Victorian Legal Aid), and member of Ministerial and departmental committees.
I live in outer east Melbourne with my partner of 30 years, have two adult children, 2 lively Labradors and relax by sewing, painting and crotchet. I dream of a time when my systemic advocacy is no longer needed and I can buy a caravan and travel around Australia.
It is a privilege for me to join the Live Learn Lead Collective to be involved with a dynamic and highly experienced group of lived experience workers. My perspective is as a family carer of young people who have journeyed different pathways of CAMHS and CYMHS over the past 14 years.
I joined the carer lived experience workforce in 2021 at Austin Health as a Carer Consultant specific to families and carers of children and young people. I have a passion to see families and carers supported well in order to facilitate a journey that, hopefully, can be a little gentler, and can enable them to better support their loved one.
My past experience is as a clinical nurse, with some unique experiences as a spinal injuries nurse, tuberculosis nurse (in London) and as a wound care nurse and educator. Over the past ten years, I lived in Indonesia with my family, involved with some environmental and development work, and then running a restaurant. This experience has grown my cultural awareness and insight into the challenges of living in a country with different layers of culture, religion, politics, food, health, stresses of visas and much more.
As a member of the LLLC, I bring my journey of working in a less developed Area Mental Health Service, my lived experience, plus my life journey and experiences which provide me with an unusual resume, but with a great foundation that I hope can be a valuable contribution to the team.