Category: Advocacy

Reflections following the Referendum

Originally sent as a campaign to our mailing list on 22 November 2023.

VTMH has taken some time following the Voice Referendum to reflect and attempt to find words to express our disappointment regarding this outcome. We deeply acknowledge the courage and generosity of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders and leaders who extended this invitation to the Australian community to walk together in this journey for learning and healing together.

In the weeks since the referendum we have reflected on the impacts that colonisation has had in shaping practices in the mental health sector, including our service, and the continued challenges faced in providing culturally responsive care given the history of these lands.

VTMH deeply admires the strength and resilience of First Nations communities across the country. We commit to rising strong, leaning in, and to finding ways to honour our commitment to learning and healing together.

 We encourage teams and individuals in all sectors to continue joining collective efforts to support a more culturally safe and humanistic system and society.  

 To learn more about what is happening in Victoria towards truth, treaty and voice, we encourage you to visit the links below: 

Home – Yoorrook Justice Commission 

TREATY FOR VICTORIA | First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria ( 

VTMH Lived and Living Experience Team Update

VTMH values the voice of lived and living experience (LLE), and continues to embed diverse voices across all our work. We would love to share reflections from the LLE team over this past year.

Naomi, Consumer Consultant:

In my role as a Consumer Consultant I bring a diverse range of identity points including the fact that I am a woman, I have lived experience of mental health challenges and I am a person of Christian faith.

Along with Olivia, our Carer Consultant, I seek to provide a transcultural lens to integrate lived/living experience with diversity instead of separating them. Many people bring both identity points and we advocate for community members to be part of decision making spaces.

I am the lead of the LLE COP (Community of Practice) within VTMH. The group runs bi-monthly and its objectives are as follows:

  • Exploring how lived experience practitioners influence practice within their organisations and the mental health sector.
  • Systemic barriers and enablers that face lived experience practitioners when trying to contribute or generate change. This will also become a relevant source of knowledge for the Department of Health (DoH).

I have also been part of a number of consultations. My role in supporting education strategies (such as workshops) is to help participants understand how concepts can look in real life. Furthermore, I encourage reflection on the experience of diverse communities.

Another project which I am involved in which is dear to my heart is St Vincent’s LLEW Leadership Development Strategy Group. The group meets every fortnight and my role is to champion diverse voices of lived experience who might otherwise be marginalised or overlooked.

Olivia, Carer Consultant:

I have just passed one year in my role as carer consultant, and have enjoyed working with and learning from the VTMH team members. This year, I have had the opportunity to participate in several meaningful projects such as Victoria’s Lived and Living Experience Leadership Strategy, and the 2023 VTMH Forum: Women Empowering Communities – Deepening the Dialogue in Mental Health and Wellbeing.

A highlight from this year was being a part of the working group and presenting at the Tandem and CLEW, A New Way Forward – a showcase of relational practice with families, carers, and supporters. Justin Kuay, VTMH consultant psychiatrist, and I presented a short introduction to cultural responsiveness and cultural safety when working relationally. I was honored to have been a part of such a great and pertinent event for families, carers, and supporters, and I enjoyed listening to many of the other presentations.

Naomi and I work closely together and she has been a great support and mentor to me. We are currently working on our annual review of LLE integration at VTMH and have presented a session to the wider team.

Central Implementation Team of the Mental Health and Wellbeing Workforce Capability Framework

On Wednesday, 23 August 2023 our VTMH Manager, Adriana Mendoza, received an invitation from the Department of Health (DoH) to be a member of the Central Implementation Team (CIT) for the “Mental Health and Wellbeing Workforce Capability Framework: Our workforce, our future.” The Framework “defines the skills and attributes required of the Mental Health and Wellbeing workforce to meet the needs of consumers, family, carers and supporters across Victoria”. 

The DoH Capability Framework project team have been working with the Centre for Evidence and Implementation to ensure that there is a strategy grounded in implementation science. Additionally, the Central Implementation Team concentrates on providing recommendations and perspectives for the implementation of the Framework.

VTMH values this opportunity to join the implementation group where enabling factors and structural barriers can be discussed/addressed in the context of the implementation of the Mental Health and Wellbeing Workforce Capability Framework.

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.

VTMH Rural and Regional Approach Implementation Project

Over the past 12 months, VTMH has been concentrating on strengthening our 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 and considered across all of VTMH’s programs and services.

Recently, we facilitated two Consultation Sessions 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 first session was well attended with representation from each of the rural and regional mental health and wellbeing services. The session generated enthusiastic discussion around commitment to engagement between VTMH and the rural and regional mental health and wellbeing sector. This included conversation around the benefits and the opportunities of this work, which will form part of the Terms of Reference for this group.

The second Consultation Session was held in late November and the aim of this session was to scope the current needs of the rural and regional mental health and wellbeing services in terms of capacity building and cultural responsiveness in the current context (reform, Covid, etc.); and identify barriers and enablers of the rural and regional services accessing VTMH programs and services.

VTMH will use the information gathered to make a set of organisational recommendations to embed into all of our programs and services. This will lead us into the next phase of this work which will be guided by the reflections shared during these sessions.

VTMH looks forward to continuing this valuable work with the rural and regional mental health and wellbeing services.

New Community Engagement Resource project

VTMH is embarking on a project, with the guidance of community members and clinical practitioners, to develop a suite of resources to support the mental health workforce. The focus of the project is to strengthen the skills, knowledge and practices of the workforce in order for them to engage with diverse communities. A secondary aim of this project will be to consolidate the learnings of VTMH and the sector in the area of community engagement for mental health. 

At the time of writing, an advisory group has been set up and plans for consultations with the workforce is underway. This project will continue into 2022.