Category: VTMH Seminar

Learning together – What is the Mental Health and Cultural Diversity Community of Practice (CoP)?

Victorian Transcultural Mental Health (VTMH) has been facilitating the statewide Mental Health & Cultural Diversity Community of Practice (CoP) since 2020.

The CoP provides a space to support mental health clinicians to come together to critically reflect on cultural diversity and mental health with peers who share the same interest.

The CoP provides an opportunity to explore contemporary practices, and have robust and respectful conversations about ways we can make our practice more accessible and responsive to the diverse needs of local communities.

The CoP is a free, ongoing program, with membership renewed annually. The group meets quarterly via Zoom throughout the year and each meeting runs for 2 hours. The CoP is open to those working in Victoria’s publicly funded mental health services. For more information on becoming a member, click here

VTMH Psychiatry Registrar Group

The purpose of this monthly, one hour, online psychiatry registrar group is to promote culturally safe and responsive mental health care in clinical practice. This group provides an online space once a month for psychiatry registrars across Victoria to participate in discussions and reflections on cases involving transcultural themes.    

Meetings were held on Wednesday, 27 April 2022 and Wednesday, 25 May 2022 and we are continuing to host these sessions on the last Wednesday of each month from 2.30 – 3.30 PM.

If you are a psychiatry registrar in Victoria and interested in participating in these sessions, please email Dr. Justin Kuay at justin.kuay@svha.org.au

Community engagement project

At the end of 2021, VTMH embarked on a project to develop a suite of resources on community engagement to support the mental health workforce. The project advisory group (membership comprising community members, community engagement officers, people with lived experience and mental health clinicians) was set up at the inception of the project. We have since undertaken 10 consultations with diverse groups of people including community members, community engagement workers, mental health clinicians and other work people with diverse lived experience. The questionnaires presented to these groups were co-designed by the advisory group.

In the next phase of the project we will analyse the transcripts, which will inform the final phase – producing resources to support the mental health workforce in their community engagement endeavours.

VTMH’s online seminars for 2021

VTMH continued our seminar schedule into 2021, with our seminars continuing to be held online via Zoom.

We held 5 seminars between April and December this year and were thrilled to have the speakers join us.

It has been a wonderful experience for VTMH, holding these seminars online and being able to reach people around parts of Victoria and Australia, that otherwise would not have been able to attend our face to face seminars in Fitzroy. 

We started off in April with Emeritus Professor Andrew Markus AO from Monash University speaking about the findings of the Scanlon Foundation social cohesion surveys conducted in May, July and November 2020.

In June we welcomed, once again, Matt Ball from the Humane Clinic in South Australia who spoke about his “Suicide Narratives” approach which seeks to understand a person’s unique phenomenological reality and their current experience that life is unsustainable.

Matt teaches and consults nationally and internationally on humane approaches to working with a person in distress. Humane Clinic offers an alternative to pathologising and diagnosis-led mental health systems.

In August we had Professor Naomi Priest from the Centre for Social Research and Methods, Australian National University speak to us about her research into racism as a critical child and youth public health issue.

Our October seminar (which was rescheduled to December) saw us hear from Professor Rebecca Wickes, Director Monash Migration and Inclusion Centre (School of Social Sciences, Monash University).

Professor Wickes spoke to us about her research into the safety and security of refugee women in Australia which was eye-opening.

Our last seminar of the year had us hear from Feifei Liao who spoke about her work with international students and the use of innovative ways of leveraging storytelling, arts and lived experience to explore mental health challenges multicultural communities face and support them to navigate their own journey for prevention and recovery.

We thank everyone who attended and of course the speakers for so generously donating their time.

Our total audience for seminars for 2021 was 348 and we are so happy that we were able to deliver important information for such a broad group of viewers across Australia.

Our seminars will recommence in the first half of 2022.

To ensure you are notified of upcoming seminars, please add yourself to the VTMH mailing list here

Seminars – a platform for trailblazers

We know that seminars at VTMH are a well-known fixture. A place to hear first-hand from advocates, researchers and practitioners. Thanks to committed speakers and audiences, we’re continuing via Zoom.  

We started off in May with Associate Professor Bianca Brijnath, Director of Social Gerontology at the National Ageing Research Institute (NARI). She presented on ‘Considerations for a population-level response to age, culture and COVID-19’.

Leaders in mental health interpreter education, Dr Shani Tobias, Dr Lola Sundin, Dr Jim Hlavac from Monash University led the July session on ‘Professional Development for Interpreters and Mental Health Clinicians – Recent Developments’. The August session featured Matt Ball. Matt is a leading innovator in mental health practice and spoke on alternative approaches to psychotherapy. 

Dr Charishma Ratnam at the Monash Migration and Inclusion Centre will join us on Wed 21 October, to speak about using technology to communicate and engage with diverse communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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

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.

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

Chasing Asylum: A Film Screening

The Australian documentary film by Academy Award winner, Eva Ormer aims to raise awareness of the resettlement conditions and lived experience of asylum seekers and refugees held in off-shore detention centres.

Chasing Asylum was presented at the Chamberlain Theatre at St Vincent’s Fitzroy campus, as a prelude to VTMH’s 2017 seminar series. The screening was authorised by the Director, Eva Ormer, and her associates.

Guest panellists David Manne (Director of Refugee Legal) and Samantha Ratnam (Service Program Manager, ASRC) were engaged to lead a discussion immediately after the film was screened, and provided expertise in their sharing, reflection and response to questions and comments from the floor.