Our establishment and ongoing leadership role in system transformation falls within the portfolio of the Minister for Mental Health, The Hon. Ingrid Stitt.
The Victorian Collaborative Centre Board oversees our establishment, which includes setting our early strategic direction and selecting mental health service and academic partners.
There are 10 board members, with at least four people who identify as having a lived experience of mental illness or psychological distress. This includes two people who bring a consumer perspective and two with experience as a family member, carer or supporter.
The 10 inaugural board members are:
- Terry Laidler (Chair)
- Maria Katsonis (Deputy Chair)
- Lisa Brophy
- Gill Callister
- Sheree Lowe
- Steve Moylan
- Gerard Naughtin
- Phong Nguyen
- Fionn Skiotis
- Amelia Walters
Members bring a breadth of personal and professional experiences to the board – find out more about them below.
Board member biographies
Terry Laidler has extensive experience as a psychologist working in private forensic practice, mainly in family law, child protection and criminal jurisdictions, and is former Chair of the Victorian Mental Health Reform Council. He has also held a position as an academic specialist in the Global & Cultural Mental Health program in School of Population Health at the University of Melbourne and has taught forensic behavioural studies at Monash University Swinburne University. Terry is keen to ensure that collaboration among consumers, carers and professionals is at the very heart of the board’s work.
Maria Katsonis is a Public Policy Fellow at the University of Melbourne where she teaches public policy and management at a postgraduate level. She was previously a senior executive in the Victorian public service for 20 years. Maria has been using her lived experience of mental illness as a consumer advocate for 13 years with Beyond Blue, Mental Health Australia and the National Mental Health Commission. She has a Master of Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and was named an Australian Financial Review Woman of Influence for her leadership in diversity and inclusion. Maria is a second-generation Greek-Australian and identifies as gay. She lives with a chronic mental illness and leads an active and purposeful life.
Professor Lisa Brophy
Lisa Brophy is a Professor and Discipline Lead in Social Work and Social Policy at La Trobe University, and also an honorary principal research fellow in the Centre for Mental Health at the University of Melbourne. She has over 35 years’ experience working in the mental health and university sectors in Victoria since qualifying as a Social Worker. Her research focus is on people experiencing mental illness and psychosocial disability and their recovery, social inclusion and human rights. She has published over 80 peer-reviewed journal articles as well as book chapters and multiple reports for government and non-government funders.
Gill Callister is proud to lead Mind Australia as CEO. She is known for her person-centred reform in social policy, her advocacy for gender equality and women’s leadership, and her dedication to providing a voice to those often overlooked or excluded from mainstream services. Gill has a wealth of health, education and social services experience. She began her career as a social worker and dedicated two decades to shaping reform in public policy and services in mental health, child protection and education. Past roles include Secretary - Victorian Department of Human Services, Secretary - Victorian Department of Education and Training, and Associate Dean - Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) where she led programs in ethics, integrity and leadership. Gill received the Public Service Medal – Victoria in 2019 for outstanding public service, leadership and innovation in policy development and service delivery.
Sheree Lowe is a descendant of the Djab Wurrung and Gunditjmara people living on Waddawurrung country in regional Victoria. Growing up Aboriginal, her family and community has shaped her life and identity as a proud Aboriginal woman living in a world of diverse life experiences. Like many her identity and experiences have been, and continue to be, impacted by the legacy of colonisation. She has spent her personal and professional life living, supporting, and advocating for Aboriginal people to be seen and heard across a range of different injustices including justice, education, health and wellbeing. Sheree has experience in working in the community, government and private sector. Sheree is an Executive Director at the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) and leads the Balit Durn Durn Centre (The Centre for Excellence in Aboriginal Social and Emotional Wellbeing).
Professor Steve Moylan
Steve Moylan is Clinical Director of the Mental Health, Drugs and Alcohol Services at Barwon Health and Professor and Research Fellow in the School of Medicine at Deakin University. He is qualified in both general adult and old age psychiatry. He holds a Master of Business Administration, Master of Public Health from Harvard University and a Doctor of Philosophy in mental health epidemiology. Steve is the Chair of Lifelife Direct and was formerly Chair and Director of On The Line Australia.
Steve has strong interests in health leadership and governance, mental health systems, clinical care including general and psychiatry of old age, and translational research psychiatry. Steve’s personal experience of personal trauma related to the Bali Bombings has driven a passion for helping others. He has deep admiration and respect for the contribution consumers, carers and clinicians play in delivering mental health care, and understands that bringing together these differing experiences, perspectives and expertise will lead to a mental health care system focused on what really matters. He resides in Geelong with his young family and loves living and working in regional Victoria.
Gerry Naughtin has worked in management and governance roles in human services for many years, in the mental health, disability and aged care sectors. He was a member of the Expert Advisory Panel to the Victorian Royal Commission on Mental Health and until recently, chaired the National Mental Health Sector Reference Group for the National Disability Insurance Agency. Gerry is a qualified social worker and has a Doctorate of Philosophy from Melbourne University. He previously held an Associate Professor position at LaTrobe University.
Gerry has a strong commitment to the development of lived experience in mental health and disability services. He co-authored a chapter in the book Peer Work in Australia with his friend and colleague Janet Meagher. He holds a professional qualification in social work and completed his doctorate in social work in 2008.
Phong Thaddeus Nguyen OAM is a passionate and dedicated advocate for peace, harmony, social justice, human rights, social reform and multiculturalism in Victoria and Australia. Phong arrived in Australia as a refugee from Viet-Nam in 1979. He joined and became the first Australian trained Vietnamese Jesuit in Australia. After graduating from Melbourne University where he obtained a B.A, a Post Graduate Diploma and an M.A in Applied Linguistics, Phong worked in social welfare, becoming the director of a multi-ethnic welfare agency for more than 16 years, and was appointed to many government board and advisory positions due to his strong stance and knowledge on multiculturalism and social justice issues. With 30 years’ experience working in welfare services and more than 35 years of volunteering in the community, Phong brings extensive knowledge of board governance, multicultural communities, health and social services.
Fionn Skiotis is currently the CEO of VALID – the Victorian Advocacy League for Individuals with Disability. He has been involved all his life in movements and initiatives for justice, equality and change. He has worked over 35 years in the not for profit sector, both in Australia and overseas, including in advocacy, community development, human rights, housing and mental health. Fionn was the Executive Director of International Social Service in Australia, has been a director of Community Housing Ltd since 2001 and served as Chair from 2013-22. He was a Community Member of the Mental Health Tribunal (and predecessor) in Victoria for three terms. He holds a Master of Social Science degree and is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Amelia Walters is a mental health advocate, peer worker, and lived experience researcher. Amelia advocates for lived experience leadership, promoting partnerships in service reform, and addressing structural issues within the mental health and wellbeing system. She is also passionate about lived experience-led research and research for innovative service delivery and creating accessible and equitable services. Amelia was a 2022 fellow with the Yale University Lived Experience Transformational Leadership Academy and is currently undertaking a Juris Doctor at the University of Melbourne, hoping to assist law reform and promote the human rights of people engaging with the mental health and wellbeing system.
The Collaborative Centre’s Board Charter sets out the roles and responsibilities of the board.
Find out more about the charter.
The Victorian Collaborative Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing has established an inaugural partnership with The University of Melbourne and Royal Melbourne Hospital, supported by a network of 18 other mental health and research collaborators.
This partnership will bring together people with lived experience, researchers, and health professionals to lead critical improvements in the Victorian mental health system.
Members of the collaboration include:
- Barwon Health
- Deakin University
- Northern Health
- The Bouverie Centre, La Trobe University
- Western Health
- Victoria University
- Forensicare (in partnership with the Centre for Behavioural Science, Swinburne University)
- Swinburne University
- St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne
- Australian Catholic University
- Grampians Health Service
- RMIT University
- Goulburn Valley Health
- The ALIVE National Centre for Mental health Research Translation
- Mind Australia
- Uniting Vic.Tas
- Dardi Munwurro
The Collaborative Centre is also setting up partnerships with Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council, Tandem Carers, Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation and the Victorian Multicultural Commission.
The Collaborative Centre will make sure there are diverse voices at the table to inform the work of this partnership. This will include making sure that our collaborators reflect the diversity of the Victorian population.
Frequently asked questions
How was this partnership selected?
The Collaborative Centre is required by legislation to partner with at least one health service and one academic service. The Centre ran a careful and collaborative process to select its inaugural partners.
This process included:
inviting expressions of interest for groups to come together
requesting proposals from shortlisted groups
bringing together a panel of people with lived experiences (consumer and carer), clinical, research and service improvement skills to carefully assess proposals
providing a report to the board and the minister for approval.
What will the partnership do?
The partnership will focus on improving people’s experience of the mental health and wellbeing system in Victoria.
It will do this by:
listening to expertise of people who use services and their families and supporters, as well as people who work in services, to decide where research could make a difference
conducting translational research
trying new ways of doing things (in a local area and across Victoria)
sharing what is learned.
What is this partnership's commitment to lived experience leadership?
To be successful, our partners had to demonstrate that lived experience expertise was represented at all levels: leadership and oversight, decision making, and day to day operations.
Every step of the way, we will seek to learn and reflect together so we can shift power, work together towards real collaboration and promote the voices of people with lived and living experience.
What are the next steps in this partnership?
Over the coming months, the Collaborative Centre will work closely with these two lead partners to get started on some priority projects and set up ways of working with the broader network of mental health and research collaborators to help the partnership flourish and endure into the future.
Who will oversee the Collaborative Centre?
The Collaborative Centre is a statutory body overseen by an independent board, which will include representatives of the University of Melbourne and the Royal Melbourne Hospital as the lead partners from the consortium.
Will this partnership include regional Victoria?
The Collaborative Centre is for all Victorians. The partnership’s activities will take a state-wide view, so that local discoveries can make system-wide change.
The Consortium includes the following members from rural and regional Victoria:
Grampians Health Service
Goulburn Valley Health.
How can I find out more?
Please email the Collaborative Centre team at email@example.com(opens in a new window).
Professor Sarah Wilson, co-CEO
Sarah Wilson is a leading international researcher in brain and mental health, who has more than 30 years’ of clinical experience in the Victorian public and private sectors, working with people who have complex mental health conditions.
She also has more than 15 years’ of executive and senior leadership experience at the University of Melbourne, most recently as Pro Vice-Chancellor of Student Life.
Carolyn Gillespie, co-CEO
Carolyn comes to the role with a wealth of lived experience leadership and clinical expertise across healthcare, justice and the community services sector – including as a senior executive at the LGBTIQ+ community-controlled organisation Thorne Harbour Health and Board Chair of LGBTIQ+ Health Australia.
Social work qualified and with almost 25 years’ experience leading trauma and mental health services and driving system change, Carolyn says she is excited to continue putting lived experience at the heart of her work.
The Lived Experiences Advisory Panel (LEAP) is instrumental in guiding the Collaborative Centre’s establishment, providing strategic advice to the board, executive leadership, and establishment team.
The inaugural LEAP was formed in February 2023, and members will be in place for 12 months.
The 10 LEAP members with lived and living experience of mental illness, psychological distress and substance use or addiction, including consumers, family members, carers, and supporters are:
- Caroline Lambert (Chair)
- Emily Unity (Deputy Chair)
- Georgia Barrand
- Robyn Callaghan
- Sam Hayward
- Jacqueline Kirkman
- Rohini Krishnapillai
- Lyanne Morel
- Puneet Sansanwal
- Benn Veenker.
Members’ diverse backgrounds and range of lived and living experiences will be invaluable to the LEAP’s work.
Purpose and function
Genuine partnership with people with lived and living experience of mental illness, psychological distress and substance use, including consumers, family members, carers, and supporters (people with lived experience), is vital to the Collaborative Centre achieving its vision.
The LEAP is a significant channel through which lived experience expertise informs our work.
The LEAP will advise on the:
- development of a lived experience framework
- development and implementation of a communications strategy, including branding and digital presence, and a stakeholder engagement strategy
- development of a three-year strategic plan
- development and publication of a research strategy
- appointment of the Co-CEOs.
Beyond these formative activities, the board hopes the LEAP will also drive regular reflection on how the centre can lead transformational change and challenge existing power imbalances throughout all its work.
We’d love to hear from you. To get in touch with our establishment team, please email your questions, ideas or observations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to sign up for the latest news
To receive our latest updates, including our Collaborative Centre Newsletter, please register your details.
How to make a complaint
At the Collaborative Centre, we know that we might not always get it right. We are committed to being receptive to and learning from complaints that we receive.
You can access our complaints policy:
You can make a complaint in writing by emailing email@example.com.
Your email should include the following details:
- What happened and how it led to your complaint.
- Any relevant supporting information which could help the Collaborative Centre to better understand or resolve your complaint.
- How you would like your complaint to be resolved.
- How you would like to be contacted by the Collaborative Centre about your complaint.
Please note that there is no fee associated with making a complaint to the Collaborative Centre.
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Contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org