Author: Madeleine Orneus

VTMH Seminar Series in 2019

We have heard about:

  • Intentional Peer Support — a snapshot of the key principles
  • The new LGBTIQ Intersect resource
  • The Post-Settlement Lives of South Sudanese Australian Women
  • Addressing loneliness in people with mental ill health
  • The Family Violence Royal Commission and the process of change
  • Consumer rated effectiveness of consultations for stress and emotional problems
  • Rights based card under the Mental Health Act 2014
  • Supporting bicultural work
  • Compassionate communities: Talking about and doing death differently

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our guest speakers, both past and future. It is because of them that we are able to provide this wonderful space for information, insights and reflections.

Thank you also to our attendees. Our seminars have become extremely popular in recent years with many booked out well in advance. It is because of your support and interest in the topics presented that we continue striving to find excellent information and speakers to present you with.   

Our next seminar is being held on Wednesday, 18 March 2020 and we will send an e-blast to our mailing list and advertise the topic and speaker on our website in due course. 

Our seminars are held on the third Wednesday of each month. If you would like to stay informed of upcoming seminar topics, along with all our other events, add yourself to our mailing list here

VTMH Cultural Diversity Workshops for Mental Health Practitioners in 2019

Participants in ‘Cultural Responsiveness: Introduction Principles and Practices’ 2019 workshops have valued: 

‘new theories and ways of working’,
‘alternative approaches’,
‘updated research and knowledge’ and
‘the positive attitude of the presenters around cultural diversity’

We’re collaborating with the Victorian Mental Health Learning and Development Clusters initiative to offer free workshops to Victorian public mental health services and we regularly review and update what we offer.
Mental health practitioners, including nurses, case managers, psychologists, social workers, or, people working in mental health services including project workers or team leaders, are encouraged to register in the following events.
Download the VTMH Workshop Calendar 2019 here

VTMH Terms of Reference submission

Over the month of January, all Victorians were invited to submit their thoughts on the themes of the Royal Commission to inform the official Terms of Reference. 

Victorian Transcultural Mental Health welcomes the establishment of the Royal Commission into Mental Health and for the opportunity to contribute to the Royal Commission’s Terms of Reference.

We recognise the Royal Commission as an opportunity to hear from and make visible, the lives and experiences of Victorians from diverse communities.

In our submission we advocate for a focus on cultural safety and responding to diversity, inclusive of the mental health impacts of discrimination, whilst recognising the role of families and communities in mental health recovery and care. In addition we encourage the terms of reference to recognise cultural safety and cultural responsiveness as a human right for all Victorians.

LGBTIQ Intersect Website Now Live!

The project, OUT in the CALD, consulted many individuals and groups – people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ); those identifying as Queer Transgender Intersex People of Colour (QTIPOC); those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds (CALD) inclusive of asylum seekers, refugees and migrants; and those with diverse intergenerational migration histories and those from faith communities inclusive of faith and community leaders. 

Please share the link to the LGBTI Intersect website with your networks.

Seminar Series for 2018 — A Look Back

One of the highlights of our seminar series this year was Commissioner Kristen Hilton from the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC) and her presentation; ‘Working together to fight the rise of racism’. We had over 65 attendees at this seminar and her message was very well received. She gave examples of racism in the community, explained how her organisation provides aid and provided guidance to attendees on what they can do to help combat this.

In 2019, we will again be running our seminar series from March to November and more information will be available on our website early next year. To ensure you are advised about speakers and topics, please add yourself to our mailing list by clicking here We would like to take this opportunity to, once again, thank the speakers who generously donated their time and energy into presenting at our seminars and to the many people who attended. We hope to put on another year of great seminars in 2019.

Highlights from the Cultural Portfolio Holder Network Oration Evening

Cultural Portfolio Holders came together on Thursday 15th November to network, reflect and celebrate their achievements over the last 12 months.

The evening was held at the Melbourne Museum and opened with a spirited musical performance by Indigenous singer/songwriter Benny Walker. Benny’s performance was followed by an address by Cultural Portfolio Holder Network member, Michael Pauly, who reflected on his experiences as a Cultural Portfolio Holder, and the impact that holding this portfolio has had on his practice. 

This year’s Oration speech was given by award winning journalist and documentary film maker, Santilla Chingaipe. Through stories, Santilla reflected on her role as a journalist, and how she came to the realisation of the lack of racial literacy in the media. Santilla also spoke of the devastating impact on communities when there is no space or opportunity to have informed conversations about race. The speech was following by lots of pertinent questions and conversation from the audience. 

ABOVE: Musical performance, Benny Walker.
ABOVE: Cultural Portfolio Holders and Guests.

The energy and comradery in the room on the night was overwhelmingly positive. We would like to thank all those who attended, and we look forward to hosting thought-provoking events such as this to support the mental health workforce across Victoria.  

Cultural portfolio holders (CPHs) are individuals working in mental health and related organisations who undertake a role to drive culturally responsive practice. People holding positions that lead cultural diversity initiatives, are invited to register with the Victoria Cultural Portfolio Holder Program, facilitated by Victorian Transcultural Mental Health (VTMH).

Vocation Works Forum

During mental health week, nearly 100 people came together to raise awareness and discuss the relationship between recovery and vocation and the importance of considering diversity in this context.

We heard from a broad range of perspectives and different voices on vocational rehabilitation. This included people with lived experience, migrants, advocates, practitioners and researchers from a range of organisations, agencies and services. Overall, there were 12 presentation sessions from 21 presenters from across 11 individual organisations within Victoria. The feedback from audience members and presenters was overwhelmingly positive. A selection of quotes and images are presented below:

“Finding out about organisations I was previously unaware of. Now have an increased resource base that I can refer to, to assist my clients.”

“…the lived experiences of people with more service-based traditional presentations really brought this forum to life…”

“Great mix up of perspectives and ideas…”

“Presenter’s spirit, speaking from their experiences and the open discussion.”

“I found it to be such an inspiring forum.”

“All the stories were so positive, energetic and so inspiring.”

“Finding out about organisations I was previously unaware of. Now have an increased resource base that I can refer to, to assist my clients.”

“…the lived experiences of people with more service-based traditional presentations really brought this forum to life…”

“Great mix up of perspectives and ideas…”

“Presenter’s spirit, speaking from their experiences and the open discussion.”

“I found it to be such an inspiring forum.”

“All the stories were so positive, energetic and so inspiring.”

The main ideas discussed throughout the day included:

  • It takes courage for consumers to face very real barriers to gaining and maintaining meaningful work 
  • Aspects that are common in vocational recovery from serious mental illness include: hope, sense of purpose, social connectedness, self-identity, meaning, dignity, perseverance, goals and planning 
  • Evidence-based models for supporting people with serious mental illness to gain competitive employment is critical towards recovery 
  • Supporting people from migrant and refugees backgrounds and asylum seekers to gain competitive employment is vital towards successful settlement in Australia 
  • Opportunity creation, capacity building and a holistic approach to address vocational and non-vocational barriers faced by disadvantaged job seekers is imperative
  • Identifying barriers for people with a disability (including those with serious mental illness) to enable organisations to support them in more concrete and creative ways 
  • Policy recommendations can reduce barriers and facilitate improved employment opportunities for migrants, refugees and asylum seekers 
  • When consumers, migrants, refugees and asylum seekers share their insights they are helping to promote a more inclusive, diverse and understanding society. 

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our presenters, audience members and special guests, for participating in the VTMH Forum on this very important topic. This collective effort helped stimulate these discussions and produce a meaningful event.

Our hope is that the dialogue generated by this Forum is one of many to be had around this area. We believe that the Forum was a critical step towards helping us understand more about how vocation, recovery and diversity are inter-related and the implications in our work and day to day lives.

The Forum ended by encouraging all the participants to continue doing what they are doing in this space, learning from each other, thinking about diversity, and reflecting on their own practice and experience.

Victorian Cultural Portfolio Holder Program at TheMHS 2018

The theme for this year’s conference was ‘Hear the whisper, not the roar: Reform, reflect and review’.

Kimberley Wriedt and Shehani De Silva from VTMH gave a 20 minute presentation titled ‘Responding to diversity: Supporting champions to drive change in a changing mental health landscape‘, which focused on the value of the role of cultural portfolio holders, and ways to sustain their momentum, particularly given current changes facing the model of service delivery in the community managed mental health services sector.

The presentation discussed recent adaptations to the Victorian Cultural Portfolio Holder program, including a variety of new initiatives to support cultural portfolio holders to build their own capacity, and that of their colleagues, in the area of culturally responsive practice.

The TheMHS Conference is an annual even hosted by the TheMHS Learning Network, an international learning network for improving mental health services in Australia and New Zealand. 

Snapshots of VTMH Seminar Sessions in 2018

Snapshot of sessions so far

We started the year with Dr Jim Hlavac of Monash University, presenting in March on ‘Mental Health Interactions and Interpreters: Guidelines for Interpreters & Interpreters’ Perspectives.’ The session highlighted the very important role of interpreters in mental health settings, recent research and reports. Approximately 20 attendees participated in a lively discussion on this subject.

In April,  Professor Suresh Sundram of Monash University spoke about the Cabrini Asylum Seeker Services to a well attended session. 

Dr Kristen Moeller-Saxone, Vic Health, Principal Program Officer, Mental Wellbeing, was our guest speaker in May. Kristen spoke about the wellbeing of young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds. Nearly 30 attendees enjoyed Kristen’s relevant and important presentation. 

The June seminar featured a performance by Link Health and Community titled ‘Three Sides of the Coin and the Impacts of Gambling on our Community: Using Theatre to Create Change’. This organisation uses live theatre to explore the links between gambling and mental health and stimulate conversations about the impacts of gambling. This session was very well attended with over 30 people in attendance who were thoroughly entertained and informed.

Most recently in July, Susan McDonough, PhD candidate at La Trobe University, presented findings from a grounded theory study that explores the work of practitioners assisting people experiencing mental health issues with whom they share a similar cultural, linguistic or faith background.

To ensure you stay up to date on our upcoming seminars, register for our mailing list

Sharing Minds Forum — Community Capacity Building

The Forum will take place at the Darebin Arts Centre, Cnr Bell Street and St Georges Road, Preston on 14th August, 10am–3pm, and will feature interactive discussions, performances and a variety of speakers.

Further details and booking information at eventbrite.

For more information please email Cherie Windsor at VMIAC.

Information about the aims of the Program and the list of funded projects can be viewed on the Tandem website