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Welcome to our new staff!

We are pleased to introduce four new staff members who joined the team at CoMHWA this week. Pictured top left to right is Emily, Emery, Bridget and Laura (bottom far right, next to our CEO Darren). We are excited to have them join us and look forward to their valuable contributions to CoMHWA’s upcoming work! You can read a little more about them below.

Emily Cole – Peer Workforce & Education Officer

I’m feeling excited to contribute to the great work being done by CoMHWA and looking forward to getting to know the organisation, individuals and different teams better. My background includes 10yrs experience volunteering and 8yrs experience working in Lived Experience and Mental Health Advocacy roles. Although I’ve worked for a variety of organisations and in a range of positions over my time, some of the similar themes of my work have been: Facilitation, youth engagement, rural and remote advocacy, program design, co-production, inclusivity and advisory work.”

Emery Wishart – Peer Pathways Project Manager

Emery has joined CoMHWA to manage Peer Pathways and also our new Group Supports project with Laura! As a lived experience leader, he brings a love of radical peer practices, peer navigation, and insights as a support group facilitator, trainer, lived experience researcher, and ongoing learner. To reconnect and ground himself, Emery heads to the bush where the trees are tall, and the water is freezing. More regularly he loves the beach, doing crafts and taking pottery classes.

Bridget Clarke – Project Manager (Collaborate to Connect)

“I came from a communications and public relations background before I found myself in the tertiary sector working with researchers and health consumers to further community involvement in health research. I thrive on seeing different circles of people connect for a common purpose and sometimes it really does come down to building the right communication bridges. I have had the pleasure of building good relationships within a variety of industries and with inspiring people throughout my professional career. The mental health space has been a trailblazer for co-design, and I am thrilled to join CoMHWA on this adventure!”

Laura McWhae – Group Supports Officer

“I have been working in lived experience identifying roles since 2020, primarily as a Peer Worker for Step-Step Down Subacute Residential Facilities in Melbourne and Perth.  I have a BPsych (Hons degree), GDip (Public Health) and have completed Intentional Peer Support Training. I am passionate about systematic reform of the mental health system to improve access and quality, such as through improving access to mental health support through cost effective peer-led programs.”

Participating in a regular peer mental health support group) formed the backbone of my recovery after moving to Melbourne to try and get out of a long bout of depression. When I first joined the group, I was depressed, unemployed, lacked social connections, and had shattered self-esteem.  After a year, I had gotten a job and was leading the group as a Volunteer Group Organiser. By the end of my second year of involvement, I had developed close personal friends in the group and better social skills for outside, felt part of a community, had grown substantially in confidence and wellbeing, and had happily gotten a job as Peer Support Worker.  To me, the key benefits of this type of group that differentiated it from other models are that it was free, peer-led, regular, not time-limited (ongoing), nearby and was available after hours/on weekends, which meant that if you got a job with regular weekday work hours, you could continue to attend your group.

Thankfully, the MHC has agreed to fund CoMHWA to co-design and run a new support group model that I am hoping will incorporate these elements.  My role will be to co-design this new program with other consumers with the assistance of the co-design team, and to organize and facilitate these groups once they are up and running.

I am so happy to be working at CoMWHA, everyone is super friendly and it seems like a great place to work!”

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