Staff Category: Education and Service Development Consultant

Abie Jazi

Hello, I’m Abie. I’m a psychiatric nurse, social worker and midwife with qualifications across mental health nursing, social work, and education. One of my primary interests is building clinician skills to address cultural and complex needs at the point of admission or during initial assessment in mental health settings.

I have worked as a mental health nurse since 2013 in both acute and community settings, including as a transcultural Recovery Mental Health Clinician at the Mercy Mental Health Wyndham Clinic and Associate Nurse Unit Manager at the Monash Health Perinatal Mental Health Unit. I held a VTMH portfolio from 2016 to 2017.

Most recently, I worked in the Monash Health Forensic Mental Health in Community Health Team (FMHiCH). I have also worked as transcultural child protection practitioner in New South Wales, working mostly with African and First Nations families. I speak three African languages.

As well as these health roles, I have worked in several educational settings, including:

  • Lecturing in nursing and midwifery at Charles Sturt and Southern Cross universities in NSW
  • As an academic/clinical educator at La Trobe University
  • Casual /relief teaching in the UK
  • Special education educator in Zimbabwe for 16 years before emigrating to the UK and ultimately Australia.

One of my career highlights was a publication I co-authored on the application of cultural safety in midwifery in Australia, which has informed Australia’s antenatal guidelines for midwifery.

I look forward to the opportunity to contribute to VTMH’s important work.

Kimberley Wriedt

Hi, I’m Kimberley, I’ve completed studies in occupational therapy and I’ve worked with VTMH since 2011. In that time, I’ve been fortunate to have been involved in a variety of important projects and activities, including service development consultancy, facilitating group consultation processes, project management, publication writing, and training development and facilitation. I began my mental health career in Victoria’s Community Managed Mental Health Services sector, where I worked as a home-based outreach support worker and group program worker with an inner-city psychosocial support service, and later as a team leader for a home-based outreach service in Victoria’s east.

Highlights of my work with VTMH so far include:

Being a:

  • Co-facilitator for the Victorian Cultural Portfolio Holder Program, a program recognised as an innovative workforce initiative by the Department of Health and Human Services in its 2017 Review and Consolidation of Innovative Workforce Models and Activity in the Mental Health Sector.
  • Member of the project team for the Approaching work with interpreters in mental health settings project, which used a co-design process to develop a range of resources to support mental health workers to work more effectively with interpreters.
  • Presenter at the Mental Health Services (TheMHS) Conference on various VTMH programs over the years.

I look forward to seeing VTMH continue to grow and evolve in ways that meet contemporary challenges and opportunities. I hope that VTMH can continue to collaborate with mental health services and systems in bold and creative ways to achieve greater equity in mental health care.

Nadya Kouzma

Hello, I’m Nadya, a psychologist and consultant at VTMH. I’ve worked with VTMH since 2009, hold a PhD in Psychology, and am an Honorary Fellow at the School of Population & Global Health at the University of Melbourne.

I have contributed to several VTMH reports and papers over the years. These have included:

  • Responding to Diversity: An Evaluation of VTMH Programs and Services, 2013–2015.
  • Cultural responsiveness in specialist mental health services: Service development as a component of a capacity building project (VTPU, 2011). 
  • Stolk, Y., Kouzma, N., Chopra, P., Oehm, D. & Minas, H. Cultural competence training in mental health: Evaluation of a 6-module course as a component of service development (VTPU, 2011).
  • Colucci, E., Chopra, P., McDonough, S., Kouzma, N. & Minas, H. (2014). Improving cultural responsiveness in mental health services: Development of a consensus around the role of Cultural Portfolio Holders. International Journal of Culture and Mental Health, 7(3), 339–355.

I previously worked at the Alfred Hospital in various roles including Education Program Manager, DHS funded Project Manager, and Research Consultant for the public health care system, mental health sector and academia.

I look forward to continuing to contribute to VTMH’s work with organisations and agencies to build their capacity and enhance their cultural responsiveness in mental health service provision, as well as continuing to advocate for Victoria’s culturally diverse communities across the mental health sector.

Radhika Santhanam-Martin

Hello, I’m Radhika and I’m a clinical psychologist working in the field of trauma. I’ve worked with VTMH since 2011.

I have completed a postdoctoral fellowship in transcultural mental health and hold a PhD in developmental neuropsychology, a Master of Philosophy in medical and social psychology, a Master of Arts in clinical psychology, and a graduate degree in philosophy. I have more than three decades of experience in clinical practice in institutions across India, Canada and Australia. I can speak six languages, and am lucky to be able to use four of these in both my therapeutic and community work.

In Australia, I have worked in tertiary hospitals and universities as a clinical consultant and senior lecturer. Over the last two decades, my work, in addition to direct therapeutic practice, has focused on service development and working with clinical and community organisations to improve access and equity in mental health. Before joining VTMH, for example, I worked in Far North Queensland with remote Aboriginal and Islander communities in Cape York and the Torres Strait Islands. I currently work with consumers, communities and service providers across three sectors: refugees and asylum seekers; emerging communities; and vulnerable women/families.

My primary interest areas include:

  • attachment and trauma; narrative methods of practice.
  • intersectional approaches addressing oppression and privilege.
  • ways of working with cultures.
  • enhancing the reflective capacity of practitioners in mental health settings using professional supervision.

I look forward to continuing to work with my VTMH colleagues and with professionals and organisations across the sector to see VTMH become a Centre of Excellence in training and policy work in the area of cultural diversity.

Shehani DeSilva

Hi, I’m Shehani and I’ve worked with VTMH since 2013. I have a background in psychology and community development and more than 20 years of experience working directly with marginalised communities and grassroot community and mental health organisations.

Before joining VTMH, I coordinated the transcultural mental health access program at Action on Disability within Ethnic Communities (ADEC) in Melbourne, working with communities from diverse cultural backgrounds. I also worked in New Zealand with a trauma service for refugees and asylum seekers as a counsellor and advocate and at Schizophrenia Fellowship supporting consumers and carers to access housing in urban Wellington.  I have also had the opportunity to undertake international development work through UNICEF Sri Lanka where I worked as a psychosocial specialist supporting and building the capacity of community organisations funded to work with communities impacted by civil war. I look forward to continuing to play a part in VTMH and its role in building the capacity of the workforce to provide equitable services to the culturally diverse communities of Victoria.

Silvana Izzo

Hi, I’m Silvana and I’ve worked part-time with VTMH since 2012. I am an Occupational Therapist and Somatic Psychotherapist working in both clinical and community settings with people who have experienced developmental and complex trauma. I have worked in public health for thirty years across sectors and programs, including remote aboriginal communities, high-demand environments such as emergency departments and complex psychosocial care contexts. 

At VTMH, I provide workforce development, planning and strategic support across the Victorian specialist mental health system, promoting inclusive, culturally safe and culturally responsive mental health care.

Recent projects I’m proud to have worked on include:

  • Co-producer of Our Voices, a series of digital stories created in collaboration with mental health carers from five diverse communities, exploring beliefs, practices, and the role of faith and spirituality in both care and recovery.
  • Design and development of a web based resource, LGBTIQIntersect, in collaboration with service providers, community elders, faith leaders and same sex attracted, sex and gender diverse people from multicultural, spiritual and faith-based communities.
  • Development of intersectionality and cultural safety resources for the mental health workforce.
  • Collaborating on the development of resources to support culturally safe and inclusive practice across the family violence sector.

I am particularly interested in applying an intersectional lens to public health service delivery models, the implementation of justice and human rights frameworks in mental health care and the integration of human-centred design thinking in project development and delivery.

In the future I hope VTMH can inspire a whole-of-government approach to humane mental health care informed by the social, cultural and political determinates of health, whilst promoting diverse approaches to community-led mental health and wellbeing supports and services.

Stephanie Shavin

Hello, I’m Stephanie. I am a Social Worker with a background in Narrative Therapy and a strong interest in working with diverse communities in Australia and overseas.

Before joining VTMH, I worked as a Counsellor Advocate and Senior Practitioner with Foundation House alongside adults, children and families of refugee background and those seeking asylum who have survived experiences of torture and trauma.

I am interested in supporting the mental health and service delivery workforce to better engage with diverse communities using an intersectional lens and culturally responsive practices to foster inclusion and cultural safety. I have been privileged to facilitate reflective practice groups, supervision, and education and training in a number of community organisations and universities.

I am further interested in creating spaces for the voices of diverse communities to inform developments in policy and systems. In line with this interest, I am proud to have collaborated with the Department of Education and Training and the Brotherhood of St Laurence to explore the barriers and challenges for four refugee background communities in their engagement with kindergarten programs. Learnings from this project have been used to inform policy and practice changes intended to increase access and participation for newly arrived communities in early childhood education. 

I look forward to working with my colleagues at VTMH to support safe access and equity for all those seeking to connect with mental health services and to ensure the voices of those with lived experience be heard and embedded in shaping mental health support and practice.