Author: vtmh

Spirituality & Diversity Discussions

Since 2019, Spiritual Health Association (SHA) in partnership with Victorian Transcultural Mental Health (VTMH) has been offering the opportunity for mental health practitioners to explore and nominate the challenges they may encounter when spirituality or religion comes up for their consumers.

In April 2023, VTMH presented a webinar on  “Spirituality matters – what clinicians needs to know”  that launched the program for the year.

After this, 6 reflective sessions on topics concerning spirituality and mental health were conducted over the course of 2023. Topics included:

– How do I respond caringly to someone who believes they are Jesus, Mohammed or other revered sages?

– Spiritual beliefs, values and personal biases: How do they influence my work? 

– Discussing spirituality and mental health in my organisation: Do I feel safe?

– How do I affirm someone’s spiritual identity and resources when supporting their recovery journey? 

– I’m not spiritual or religious. How do I support consumers who are? 

– As another year closes, where am I with regards to my own spiritual health and wellbeing?

These sessions were run online and participants were very excited to discuss each topic in a small group. The program will run again in 2024 with new topics.

Please sign up to the VTMH mailing list here to receive updates about when these sessions will occur and to find out what the topics will be.

Demonstrating Solidarity In Context to the Upcoming Referendum

At an important moment in history, Victorian Transcultural Mental Health (VTMH) strongly supports the upcoming national vote about adding an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice (The Voice) to the Australian Constitution.

VTMH aligns with the principles of unity and understanding promoted by Reconciliation Australia, and we also endorse the stance taken by St Vincent’s Health Australia on this matter.

VTMH sees this as a big chance to bring people together and make things better. We know that health and wellness are connected to making things right between different groups of people in Australia. VTMH thinks this vote can make real changes and respect the different viewpoints of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Reconciliation Australia is determined to bring people closer together and VTMH is supportive of that journey. We believe this vote can make a big difference, and it’s part of the bigger effort to admit past wrongs, share the truth, and work together. By agreeing with Reconciliation, VTMH shows how important it is to understand the problems from the past and make Australia a fairer, more equitable, and more united place.

As the vote gets closer, VTMH stands with these important groups, showing that they all want to make things better for everyone in Australia.

For more information about the referendum, and reasons to vote yes kindly see:

Ministerial Interdisciplinary Clinical Advisory Group (ICAG)

On Wednesday, 16 August 2023, the Ministerial Interdisciplinary Clinical Advisory Group (the VTMH Manager is part of this forum), and some other leaders from the Department of Health were provided with the VTMH Community engagement resource, and the following letter:

Dear Interdisciplinary Clinical Advisory group (ICAG)

This message is to share the latest VTMH resource “Community Engagement with Purpose”  with you. The objective of this resource is to support the mental health and wellbeing workforce to enhance their skills, knowledge and practice when engaging with diverse communities. This resource package includes a) the report, b) a tri fold booklet, c) the video series and 4 podcast series. VTMH will be offering education workshops based on these resources in 2024.

For VTMH, the process of developing this resource was very valuable. During the development of this resource, VTMH had the privilege of working with various individuals and community organisations in order to co-design, co-produce and collaborate. At various points, VTMH faced questions  like: “how does co-design or collaboration look like in real life”, “how do we know that community members are really feeling invited and validated at the table”, how is feedback given to communities and received from  communities” .

These were very useful questions and the VTMH project team took these questions in a considered way. Our processes included a) advisory groups from communities to mentor the VTMH project team (page 8 of report), b) 6 consultation groups drawn from a range of sectors in communities including peer workers and people with lived and living experience (page 9 of report), c) Videos and podcasts also position  diverse voices (pages 13 and 14 of report), and finally d) the tri fold booklet focused on core concepts, core practices and core actions for individual practitioners and for organisations. 

The project culminated after 2 years and was launched in August 2023. VTMH is proud to have committed, commenced and completed these resources during Covid-19 lockdown despite unprecedented challenges.

We see the VTMH resources in close alignment with the work that has been led by the Department of Health through the group called “Diverse Communities Mental Health and Wellbeing Framework and Blueprint for Action”. VTMH is also part of this working group and we envision that these resources will be a valued addition to the diverse community framework.  We look forward to continuing joining efforts to build together a more culturally responsive system.

We hope you find the resources meaningful.

Spotlight on: VTMH Team Member – Naomi Chapman

This is a new section to our twice yearly e-newsletter. We realise that while many of you reading this do work with some members of our team, many of you don’t know who we are!

To change this, we have decided to share with you an interview with one of our team members in each of these e-newsletters.

In December 2022, we shared our interview with Kimberley Wriedt. This month, Naomi Chapman has kindly agreed to be interviewed.  

Name: Naomi Chapman

Job title: Consumer Consultant

Qualifications: Bachelor of IT (Swinburne University)

Time at VTMH: 6 years

Tell us your work story: I was a consumer representative for nearly 12 months at North West Area Mental Health, also known as Waratah Clinic, prior to commencing with VTMH in 2017. This included sitting on the board of ‘C-Drive’ (Consumer Drive), playing a key role in the ‘Create 2’ Art Exhibition for consumers and budding artists, and co-facilitating nurse’s intake sessions with fellow consumers.

I studied IT at Swinburne University and worked in the IT industry for 16 years before transitioning to my current Consumer Consultant role, which I consider a more meaningful vocation. I am also a practising Christian, which has helped me greatly in my recovery journey.

What attracted you to this role at VTMH? The opportunity to use my lived experience to bring to life concepts concerning culturally responsive care, to have something meaningful come out of my mental health challenges.

Proudest achievement/s while working at VTMH: Co-facilitating our Lived Experience Community of Practice with Abie, Ben and Olivia (three of my VTMH colleagues).

What do you hope for and envision for the future of VTMH? I hope that VTMH grows in funding and expertise so that we remain the lead transcultural and intersectional mental health service across the state.

What do you enjoy most about your role? The people in my team including my manager Adriana and lived experience co-worker Olivia. Everyone in the team is proactive, helpful and very knowledgeable in their fields which makes coming to work a pleasant and motivating experience.

What do you like to do in your free time? I hand out gospel tracts each Saturday in the city (corner of Bourke and Swanston Streets), I also go to church on Sundays. I catch up with my brother Ben, a new Christian, each Tuesday on Teams for fellowship. My hubby and I also have date night each Saturday where we try out local restaurants.

What’s the last book you read? Dawn of the Antichrist by Donny Budinsky.

What’s the first concert you ever attended? Metallica or possibly Peter Gabriel.

What’s the next place on your travel bucket list? Jerusalem, to see places where Christ and his disciples lived, died and worked.

Tell us something we might be surprised to hear about you? I play the Scottish bagpipes and studied music in year 12 (playing that instrument).

Community Engagement with Purpose Resource Launch

On Wednesday, 2 August 2023, VTMH was delighted to celebrate the launch of the Community Engagement with Purpose Resource Project at Darebin Arts Centre.

The project commenced during Covid-19 lockdown and despite unprecedented challenges, work continued.

This launch event culminates two years of hard work by a dedicated group of VTMH project members, and an external Advisory Group, to co-design a new suite of resources to support mental health workers and mental health organisations undertake community engagement work.

A number of consultation sessions, with a range of stakeholders, also took place.

The resources produced include a resource booklet, videos, podcast series and a project report.

More information about the resources and the project can be found on our website here.

To view images from the launch event, click on the video below:

VTMH Women Empowering Communities Forum 2023

VTMH is excited to announce that we will be holding our first forum since 2019 on Thursday, 26 October 2023 at the Darebin Intercultural Centre titled, Women Empowering Communities – Deepening the Dialogue in Mental Health and Wellbeing.

This year’s theme showcases the work women have undertaken to strengthen mental health and wellbeing in their communities.

The day will consist of dynamic presentations from a variety of community projects, including a Q&A session, a musical performance and keynotes from both Nyadol Nyuon and Mary Crooks. The event will be hosted by Tigist Kebede of Pola Practice, and will be captured in stunning detail by our graphic recorder Debbie Wood.

So, please mark your calendars for the Thursday, 26 October. This is sure to be an amazing day, and we would love to see you all there!

To ensure you are notified when registrations for this forum open, please add yourself to the VTMH mailing list here

VTMH Rural and Regional Approach Implementation Project

VTMH continues to strengthen its relationship with the rural and regional mental health sector through our VTMH Rural and Regional Approach Implementation Project. 

The main aim of this project is to ensure that VTMH’s programs and services take into account the unique needs of the rural and regional mental health and wellbeing sector and that their perspectives are included across all of VTMH’s programs and services.

In 2022, we facilitated two consultations with the VTMH Rural and Regional Liaison Group who represent each of the eight mental health and wellbeing services across rural and regional Victoria. The group recommended to:

  • Actively promote VTMH programs to rural and regional service centres.
  • Develop and embed processes for disseminating up-to-date information about VTMH programs within rural and regional service centres.
  • Adopt a whole-of-organization approach, ensuring that culturally responsive practice is seen as everyone’s business and as essential to good practice across all areas of service provision.
  • Incorporate VTMH programs in training guides and related materials.

VTMH has begun to implement the first two recommendations above. We have so far travelled to five rural and regional mental health services to showcase our services. These are:

  • Bendigo                                                               
  • Goulburn Valley (Shepparton)       
  • Laddon Mallee (Mildura)   
  • Albury/Wodonga                                              
  • Grampians (Ballarat)                

VTMH will showcase at Barwon Mental Health Service on Thursday, 14 September 2023 and plans to visit Gippsland (Latrobe) and South West (Warnambool) Mental Health Services in early 2024.

We are grateful for the hard work of the Rural and Regional Approach Liaison Group members in facilitating our visits. We look forward to working together on the next stage of the project.

TheMHS 2023 and VTMH

We are delighted to announce that VTMH this year has had two workshops and a paper presentation accepted to the TheMHS conference in Adelaide from Tuesday, 15 to Friday, 18 August 2023.

This year’s conference theme ‘Making rights real – bringing humanity and human rights to mental health’ aligns with VTMH’s strategic objectives and the guiding principles that arose from Victoria’s recent Mental Health Royal Commission and which now guide the current mental health reforms.

VTMH is proud to utilise this opportunity to showcase recent project work. This will include a workshop stemming from our new Community Engagement Resource, to be presented in collaboration with a community member of the advisory group. We will also highlight our service development work through facilitated exploration of our Partners in Diversity framework in collaboration with Better Health Network.

Last but not least we are proud to present a paper titled ‘Dare to Care – Human Rights and Compassion in the Workplace’ by our lived experience consultant – Naomi Chapman.  

We wish our colleagues the best of luck sharing our work in this pertinent and meaningful forum.

VTMH is expanding!

We currently have a vacancy available for a permanent, part-time Education & Service Development Consultant (30.4 hours per week).

The successful candidate will be responsible for providing education and service development support to mental health services in Victoria’s public health system in order to improve quality of service delivery to people from diverse backgrounds.

Please visit the St Vincent’s Hospital careers page here to find out more about this exciting new role.

Spotlight on: VTMH Team Member – Kimberley Wriedt

This is a new section to our twice yearly e-newsletter. We realise that while many of you reading this do work with some members of our team, many of you don’t know who we are!

To change this, we have decided to share with you an interview with one of our team members in each of these e-newsletters.

In July we shared our interview with Shehani De Silva. This month Kimberley Wriedt has graciously agreed to be interviewed.  

Name: Kimberley Wriedt             

Job title: Education & Service Development Consultant

Qualifications: Bachelor of Occupational Therapy (Honours) and Certificate IV in Training and Assessment

Time at VTMH: 11 years

Tell us your work story: I started working in the mental health field around 2009 as an Outreach Worker and Group Program Worker in the community managed mental health sector. I really loved that job and getting to meet people where they were – in their homes, shops, at the beach – it was a great experience. I then worked as a Team Leader for a Home Based Outreach Service again in the community managed mental health sector. It was in that role that I undertook training through VTMH and ended up working at VTMH a little while later.

What attracted you to this role at VTMH? I was really taken by the work of VTMH after participating in VTMH workshops. I really connected with the field of transcultural mental health and the systems focus of the Education and Service Development Consultant role as I’ve always been interested in the social determinants of health and how health inequities come about.

Proudest achievement/s while working at VTMH: I was really proud to be involved in a project a few years ago that developed resources around the topic of working with interpreters. The project included some video interviews that captured a range of perspectives that are often not captured when this topic is discussed. I’ve also been involved in the Mental Health and Cultural Diversity Community of Practice, which started the week before Covid impacted us all in 2019, and is still running today. I’ve met some fantastic workers through that project and believe the space has allowed for some really great discussions and learning moments. 

What do you hope for and envision for the future of VTMH? I actually got asked this question a few years ago for my website bio, and I’m giving the same answer as it still rings true – that VTMH continues to grow and evolve in ways that meet contemporary challenges and opportunities, and that we continue to collaborate with mental health services and systems in bold and creative ways to achieve greater equity in mental health care.

What do you enjoy most about your role? I like being able to focus on the big picture; about our systems and the impacts they have. I also really enjoy being able to be creative when it comes to developing resources, and collaborating with a range of people to develop them. In workshops and consultations, I’m always hearing new perspectives, and I feel very lucky to have a role where I’m always being challenged and learning something new. Lastly, it’s wonderful to work with a great group of colleagues who share a passion for this work.

What do you like to do in your free time? I enjoy playing social netball, dog-sitting, and hanging out with my adorable 4 year old niece.

What’s the last book you read? After deciding to go back to university this year to do a Graduate Certificate in Public Health, my reading of late has been centred on text books! However I think it was Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng.

What’s the first concert you ever attended? It was either Lily Allen or U2.

What’s the next place on your travel bucket list? Cambodia, to visit a good friend of mine.

Tell us something we might be surprised to hear about you? I was a movie extra in a Melbourne-based Zombie film once. People are often also surprised when I tell them I worked briefly in the Real Estate Industry, before working in mental health.