Author: Madeleine Orneus

Partnering with North Western Melbourne Primary Healthcare Network

NWMPHN is working to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of health services, and ensure they are accessible to all community members. The Network prioritises individuals and communities at risk of poor health outcomes and aims to improve the coordination of care. Focus areas include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health,  health issues associated with alcohol and other drug use, preventing and managing chronic health conditions,  the well-being of children and families, suicide prevention, and mental health.

In line with VTMH’s vision, to improve the responsiveness of services across Victoria through collaboration, VTMH accepted a commission by NWMHN to conduct and evaluate three workshops over a total of six sessions:

  • Working with culturally diverse communities — an introduction to cultural responsiveness principles and practices.
  • Working with interpreters — for practitioners engaging with interpreters in transcultural situations. 
  • Commissioning for cultural diversity -—cultural responsiveness from an organisational perspective for service provider leaders.

Forum: ‘Vocation Works!’ — Diverse Voices on Vocational Rehabilitation

A forum to discuss vocational rehabilitation from a range of perspectives. You will hear from people with lived experiences of mental health challenges, advocates, practitioners, and researchers about the role of work and other meaningful occupations in peoples’ lives.

The forum is open to mental health and community workers within Victoria. 
A number of subsidised places for consumers, carers, and peer workers are available.

For more information, click here

For more news about this and other VTMH programs and events, join the mailing list here.

Cultural Diversity & Assessment — New Online Resource Now Available

The resource is divided into four sections:

: introduces the concept of culture, its relevance to mental health, and tools that can help clarify the role culture plays in health settings.

‘Interview’: questions adapted from the Cultural Formation Interview (CFI) assist practitioners to explore culture, mental health and well-being.

‘Key Concepts’: considers issues that may be relevant to consumers when conducting culturally responsive interviews.

‘Expanding Practice’: encourages practitioners to reflect on cultural aspects of mental health and includes links to other resources, including client videos.

This resource is one of three free online learning resources available for the mental health workforce. View all VTMH’s Online Learning Resources here. We welcome your feedback via our enquiries form.

Register for a new VTMH Workshop

This year, two new workshops are being offered as part the cluster training calendars. These are designed for individuals who have previously attended VTMH introductory training and would like to deepen their understanding and skills for everyday practice.

Recovery and Diversity: Approaches to Cultural Assessment and Supporting Personal Recovery

Upcoming Dates:
Thursday 4th October via the Western Cluster 

This workshop uses a diversity lens to explore contemporary approaches to recovery-oriented practice in mental health settings, including working with individuals and families in their social and cultural context, and integrating social and cultural concerns into personal assessments and recovery plans.

Interpreted Encounters: Working with Interpreters and Engaging with Language and Culture in a Mental Health Setting

Upcoming Dates:
Thursday 16th August via the South East Cluster (LAMPS)
Thursday 13th September via the North Eastern Cluster (NEVIL)

This workshop is designed for all practitioners engaging with interpreters, and will consider the applicability of cultural safety and cultural humility in interpreted encounter, explore the role of the interpreter and the practitioner, and discuss engagement strategies prior to, during and after the interpreted encounter. 

Introductory training also continues to be held, with four sessions run to date (in rural Victoria and metro Victoria).There are three more sessions scheduled for the remainder of the year.

2018 VTMH workshop schedule now available Download here. For more information, visit the VTMH Training & Events calendar here. For staff not eligible for training via the Victorian Learning Clusters, VTMH offers many ways to learn, including online resource and seminars.  

Culturally Responsive AOD Practice

VTMH’s ongoing collaboration with North Western Melbourne PHN includes delivering more workforce education and training events across the region in coming months.

Presentations and Resources from the February Forum are available here

The multiple perspectives shared throughout the day stimulated deep reflection and diverse discussions. Consumers, carers and providers shared experiences, explored what inclusive practice means and developed their skills and knowledge.

Follow the links to find presentations by Silvana Izzo and Shehani De Silva from VTMH as well as links to all the other presentations.

VTMH’s morning session explored ‘unconscious bias’. We facilitated a discussion about service development and practice evolution in the afternoon. Our thanks go to Naomi Carter, from VAADA, for asking VTMH to get involved and for including many lived experience voices from families and communities.

We also encourage you to check out VAADA’s CALD AOD Practitioner Tip Sheets, available to download

These tip sheets outline some key issues for consideration when working with clients from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities in the areas of AOD counselling, residential withdrawal settings and intake and assessment settings.

  • Cultural Cues — Working with Cultural Diversity in AOD Counseling
  • Cultural Cues — Working with Cultural Diversity in AOD Residential Withdrawal Settings
  • Cultural Cues — Working with Cultural Diversity in AOD Intake and Assessment Settings

Intersect Project

Victorian Transcultural Mental Health (VTMH) and GLHV have entered into a 2 year partnership to support the health and wellbeing of people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) in multicultural and multifaith communities. 

The partnership has been developed in response to the “small but growing research literature on the lives of LGBT people from CALD backgrounds documenting the impact of heterosexism within their particular CALD community and racism and religious intolerance from within segments of LGBT communities on their everyday lives.” [1]

Download more information about the LGBTIQ Intersect Project below:

Project aims

ENHANCE the safety, mental health and wellbeing, social inclusion and sense of community belonging of LGBTIQ people from Multicultural and Multifaith communities in Victoria.

PROMOTE greater understanding, awareness and respect within Multicultural and Multifaith communities of the lives and experiences of their LGBTIQ members.

PROMOTE greater understanding, awareness and respect within LGBTIQ communities of the impact of racism, ethnocentrism and religious intolerance on the mental health and wellbeing of LGBTIQ people within Multifaith and Multicultural communities.

FACILITATE outcomes-focused discussions among Multicultural, Multifaith and LGBTIQ communities along with consultations with health and wellbeing providers, to identify areas of common concern and shared principles.

Resources and consultation

Resources will include

  • ½ day face-to-face workshop
  • Online education tool
  • Practitioner help sheet
  • Ongoing reference group

LGBTIQ+ Intersect involves broad community consultations that will assist GLHV and VTMH develop culturally sensitive LGBTIQ+ inclusive sector and community training, e-resources and online tools.


Noto, O., Leonard, W. and Mitchell, A. (2014). “Nothing for them”: Understanding the support needs of LGBT young people from refugee and newly arrived backgrounds. Monograph Series No. 94. Melbourne: The Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health & Society, Latrobe University.

How to get involved

  • Join a consultation group, share your experience
  • Facilitate a consultation in your community (LGBTIQ, multifaith and/or multicultural)
  • Share the project information amongst your networks and communities
  • Complete an online survey
  • Participate in a confidential interview
  • Register interest on our project data base
  • Nominate your service to trial and/or review a resource or training
  • Request the training for your service

Both GLHV and VTMH have a long history of advocacy, community engagement and sector development within a human rights framework.

Please contact  if you would like to discuss your involvement during the consultation phase of this project.

“Telling Stories and Shifting Contexts”: Inaugural CPH Oration Evening

The event was held at the Melbourne Museum and commenced with a beautiful traditional Sri Lankan dance performed by the Sri Lankan Dance Academy of Victoria, to welcome guests to the venue.

The welcome address by Daryl Oehm, VTMH Manager, gave history and context to the key role cultural portfolio holders play, and most importantly acknowledged their efforts and contributions. Daryl also announced a renaming of the state-wide Cultural Portfolio Holder Network to the Victorian Cultural Portfolio Holder Program, reflecting a number of new initiatives recently introduced. A new brochure for the Program was launched on the night.

The oration speech by Shen Narayanasamy, Human Rights Campaign Director at GetUp! titled “Telling stories and shifting contexts – Case studies in Human Rights advocacy in Australia” left the audience feeling enthused and motivated. Shen’s experience and background as a human rights lawyer and advocate was ideally suited for the evening. Her incredible ability to contextualise the oration speech to culturally responsive practice through sharing personal stories and experiences was both relevant and inspirational. 

The energy and comradery in the room on the night was overwhelmingly positive. This was shared with us by those present on the night, and also through the formal feedback received following the event.

What did people say about the evening?

“Loved the whole thing, friendly welcome, great conversations and speeches”

“The speaker was outstanding, and the venue was gorgeous and reflected a feeling of appreciation”

“Really great to meet new people and network” 

Thank you to all attendees. We look forward to making this an annual event!

Cultural portfolio holders are individuals working in mental health organisations who undertake a role to promote culturally responsive practice. VTMH invites those holding such positions to register with the Victoria Cultural Portfolio Holder Program. For more information about the Victorian Cultural Portfolio Holder Program, visit or email

Doing Diversity Work: Victorian Cultural Portfolio Holders at TheMHS

The Mental Health Services Conference, or TheMHS as it is better known, is an international event held in various parts of Australia or New Zealand, drawing participants from broad geographic origins. Consumers, carers, their consultant representatives, and a diversity of service providers come together to share innovation and progress in the field of mental health.

ABOVE: Harvey Tuck, Shehani De Silva, Sue Drummond, Kimberley Wriedt, VTMH.

The Mental Health Services Conference, or TheMHS as it is better known, is an international event held in various parts of Australia or New Zealand, drawing participants from broad geographic origins. Consumers, carers, their consultant representatives, and a diversity of service providers come together to share innovation and progress in the field of mental health.

Jan Kilicaslan, Brigid Ryan and Emma Bohmer, from St Vincent’s Mental Health Service, and Harvey Tuck, VTMH’s  partnership consultant to St Vincent’s, presented “Diversity responsiveness and the cultural portfolio holder role in improving multicultural consumer experiences of mental health services”. They discussed the work of CPHs within the service, how CPH representatives are embedded across various mental health teams, and the changes that the CPHs have introduced that are improving consumer experiences of the service.