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Spotlight on: VTMH Team Member – Shehani De Silva

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!

We would like to be a little more personal and share some information about each of our team members in our e-newsletters.

First up is our beloved Shehani De Silva.

Name: Shehani De Silva             

Job title: Education & Service Development Consultant

Qualifications: Bachelors (Honours) in Psychology

Time at VTMH: completing 9 years in 2022

Tell us your work story: Prior to migration I worked in the mental health sector in Sri Lanka. Amongst others, this included working with UNICEF Colombo psychosocial program which was aimed at working with mental health issues of communities affected by the civil conflict. After migrating to New Zealand, I had the opportunity to work with a community based mental health service and also as a as a counsellor/advocate with Wellington refugees at Survivors Trust; a leading mental health and wellbeing service for people from refugee backgrounds living in Aotearoa.

What were you doing professionally prior to working at VTMH? I coordinated the transcultural mental health program at Action with Disability within ethnic communities (ADEC) an advocacy based organisation set up to support culturally diverse people with disability and their carers.

What attracted you to this role at VTMH? During my time at ADEC, I worked closely with VTMH (at the time known as VTPU) on many projects in relation to diversity. Whilst partnering with different consultants on different projects  at VTMH,  I also got to know each of them very well. I was always taken by the quality of work at VTMH and the nuanced and careful thought put into each project. When a position became vacant, I didn’t think twice.

Proudest achievement/s while working at VTMH: There are many, but what stands out most is working with carers from culturally diverse backgrounds to support them to share their carer stories and help bring them to life in the form of videos. What stood out most in this project was the fact that we were able to produce a resource in the carers “language.” The project was selected as a finalist for Victoria’s Public Healthcare Awards.

What do you hope for and envision for the future of VTMH? To continue to be the leading transcultural mental health service in the state.

What do you enjoy most about your role? What I enjoy most is the collaborative work undertaken with diverse groups of people, including organisations and community members. I also enjoy the ability to be creative in this role.

What do you like to do in your free time? I like to watch Netflix and chat with my mother and daughter. At present however all my time is taken up with being across the political, social and economic issues affecting  Sri Lanka.

What’s the last book you read? Australia Day by Stan Grant

What’s the first concert you ever attended? Bon Jovi

What’s the next place on your travel bucket list? Travelling around Australia

Tell us something we might be surprised to hear about you? I am a fan of the TikTok app!