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Committee Members

Community Engagement Advisory

The Community Engagement Advisory Committee is made up of community members and includes both parents and young people as community representatives from different states around Australia, and different walks of life and nationalities.

Committee Members

Elleni Bereded-Samuel

Elleni Bereded-Samuel AM is an experienced senior executive, board member, and community Engagement Practitioner whose work with migrants and refugees including Africans has been recognized with many awards including an AM for services to the community in 2019. She is currently the Executive Manager Diversity and Capability Development within the Independent and Assisted Living platform at Australian Unity. Her dynamic leadership has resulted in new solutions for the community to access and participate in society. She has held various board appointments over the years and is currently a board member of the Royal Children Hospital and Wellways.

Bruce Tonge

Prior to retirement in 2012, Bruce was Foundation Head, School of Psychology and Psychiatry and Head of Discipline of Psychological Medicine at Monash University and Senior Clinical Advisor of the Mental Health Program of Monash Health at Monash Medical Centre. He established the Monash University Centre for Development Psychiatry and Psychology. Bruce continues to have clinical research, and teaching interests in developmental psychiatry with focus in Autism Spectrum Disorders, and behavioural and emotional disturbance in children and adolescents with intellectual disability and neurodevelopmental disorders, as well as parent education and skills training public mental health interventions, and treatment outcome studies in childhood anxiety and depressive disorders.

Trisha Nowland

Trisha is the Executive Officer for Growing Minds Australia. Trisha is a practicing psychologist working with children and young people, with experience in complex trauma, and concerns for community living in Western Sydney. She completed a PhD in psychometric practices in psychology research in 2019, following an earlier career in economics. Her passion is in focus on children and families who 'fall through the cracks', and developing pathways and insights in acceptable evidence-based ways that stand to better meet needs of this cohort.

John Mooney

John Mooney (PSM, OAM) is Principal of Emerson School in Dandenong, Victoria. He has worked for 55 years in the areas of education, wellbeing and trauma resolution. John has pointed out that there are many gaps in service provision that need to be addressed. The key causes of stress and mental health challenges need to be diluted away by community programs that will unlock the potential for happiness and wellbeing in all young people in Australia.

Habib Jamal

Habib Jamal has extensive teaching experience in South Africa and New Zealand and understands the issues around Youth and Mental Health. He is an ambassador for the Mental Health Foundation of Australia and currently manages a medical centre. He is the former president of the Islamic Council of Queensland and has much interaction with the youth especially from CALD communities. Habib is passionate about resources available to address mental health issues especially in the youth population and how best to overcome the “stigma” that mental health carries within CALD communities.

Wathnak Vy

Wathnak Vy - is a registered counsellor and clinical psychotherapist in Adelaide, South Australia. Wathnak has a special interest in young people's gaming and gambling behaviours. Currently, Wathnak is continually changing the lives of many community members in Australia through his face-to-face counselling, eCounselling, presenting public talks, and facilitating workshops aiming to normalise the mental health topic in the CALD community.

Veronica Hogan

Veronica Hogan - is an author, journalist, and has experience in TV presenting. She has worked for a number of publications ,and established social media networks in the UK, specializing in music and media journalism. Veronica has a strong and personal connection to youth mental health, from her own experiences. As well as from her time teaching in the UK, South Africa, and home schooling in Melbourne during the pandemic. Veronica has worked with numerous charities and foundations, she has a strong passion for raising awareness and fundraising for Growing Minds, MHFA, Spinal Cure Australia and Macmillan Cancer Trust. Veronica has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Performing Arts and a diploma in Musical Theatre. She strongly believes in the importance of creativity and the arts, both through education and as a therapeutic outlet. Not just for the youth of today but for people of all ages. Veronica currently lives in Bonbeach with her fiancé and their two dogs, and is loving her new life in Australia.

Esra Gunyel

Esra Gunyel - Is a student who is currently studying psychology at university. She has been a client with the local Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services in Tasmania for about 2-3 years. She believes that mental health support could do so much better to support children and young people with mental health conditions. She hopes that after graduation, she can do more to advocate and support our most vulnerable children who need psychological/ behavioural support without the need to be turned away due to dismissal with “no complex psychological issues” or “you don’t have any mental health problems”. She believes that the language and concerns of "you don't have any mental health problems" or "there doesn't seem to be anything concerning in your child" type of talk needs to change in the society that we live in. She believes far too many children are either not taken on by a child psychologist/ psychiatrist to be properly treated for their behavioural concerns or those who are needing (complex/ intensive) psychological help are not addressed seriously enough and that this seriously needs to change.

Jim Goodin

Jim Goodin - is a former Vice Principal with 30 years’ experience in regular, secondary and special needs schools. Currently the President of the Mental Health Foundation of Australia and co-chair of the Victorian Mental Health Month Advisory Committee. "I trained as a secondary school teacher in the 1970’s but quickly gravitated to students with special needs. During my teaching career in Victoria and Europe, I gained an insight into the requirements children need to foster resilience, especially those with social and emotional issues. My involvement with Growing Minds Australia and the Mental Health Foundation Australia is the culmination of a lengthy involvement in mental health education.”
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