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Agnes Girdwood

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.

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Ali Pain

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.

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Alison Hall

I have worked across the last 15 years within community and clinical mental health services, supporting consumers and providing a consumer lived experience perspective. My current role is as a Senior Consumer Peer Support worker at Eastern Health. I support a growing team of peers, and appreciate opportunities to work collaboratively with leadership, reviewing frameworks and developments for the lived experience workforce and clinical services. 

Before my step into consumer perspective work and support, I practised as a Myotherapist and have been dedicated to both the physical and mental health of others, for over 20 years.

I am accredited with a Vocational Grad. Cert. in Consumer Engagement, Certificate IV in Mental Health, alongside Advanced Intentional Peer Support, Emotional CPR, and Consumer Perspective Supervision training.

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.

In my personal time I enjoy exploring the garden, journaling, music, drawing, and a good cup of tea with conversation.

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Brittany McVeagh

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.

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David Barclay

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.

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Jacqui Hill

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.

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Kathy McCormick

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.

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Lauren Walsh-Buckley

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.

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Lorelle Zemunik

My background includes a range of case management positions across a variety of sectors including both community and clinical mental health services.

I've been using my own lived experience of mental health in various roles for the past 12 years including peer support, consultancy, and consumer research and training.

Currently I'm the manager for Workforce Development & Learning at Mental Health Victoria, which includes the coordination and delivery of the Cert IV in Mental Health Peer Work.

Passions lie in developing the lived experience workforce across all facets of the mental health sector.

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Lorna Downes

I began my career in mental health in 2003. For 7 years I worked in various roles supporting families and carers through peer education, peer support and advocacy before moving into mental health workforce development. I am an accredited Intentional Peer Support (IPS) core skills facilitator and an Emotional CPR (eCPR) facilitator. I have a Cert IV in Mental Health Peer Work, Cert IV in Training and Assessment and a Diploma of Counselling and Communication.

I’m also an accredited foster carer. Importantly my work is grounded in my experience of caring and for family and friends affected by trauma, mental distress and substance use. At CMHL I am the Family Carer Workforce Development Coordinator and have been in this role since November 2016. I enjoy crochet, time in nature, travel, sci-fi/fantasy, and listening to podcasts. I’m an inconsistent yogini and meditator. 

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Oskar Beggs-Steventon

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.

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Philippa Hemus

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.

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Viktoria Schroedel-Rother

I'm a Consumer Consultant with North Western Mental Health's IWAMHS (Inner West Area Mental Health Service), which is part of the Royal Melbourne Hospital's mental health division.

Current chair of the IWAMHS consumer advisory committee, CDrive; a founding and current member of the State-Wide Consumer Consultants Council; and a LE member of the Victorian Mental Health Inter-Professional Leadership Network.

As a scientist by inclination and training, I relish questions. And I question everything. And everyone. Fearlessly.

Vision for the LLLC: I'd like to see it flourish as a treasury of lived experience knowledge which grows with its membership.

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Vrinda Edan

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.