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MHFA Youth Ambassadors


Michael AguileraYouth Ambassador

24 year old student, activist and writer.I have a significant speech impediment that gives me a unique insight into socialisation and the public health system. Additional my experience in the Victorian mental health system has shown me structural issues that are barriers to access and continued care. I have also seen the dedication and experience of health care professionals that work in the public and private system.

I studied a Bachelor's degree in Journalism and Politics from 2015-18. I am starting my Masters in Public Policy at RMIT in 2020.During my time at Melbourne University I held the elected role of Welfare Officer. During that year I pioneered a pill-testing-kit distribution program (Safer Partying Initiative) that links young people to non-judgmental Harm Reduction education and practical skills to inform their substance use. That year our office produced an inquiry into the mental health services on campus, and made 32 distinct recommendations to the health services faculty - some if which were adopted.

Theoné van der MerweGeneral Committee

Born in South Africa and raised in Australia, I find my place in a mixture of two worlds - the traditional Afrikaans boer (farmer) who lives a relatively simple and modest life off the land, and the vibrant Aussie Melbournite who enjoys her soy chai latte with a dash of honey at the indie underground vegan café of the month. I'm currently completing my final year of a Bachelor in Environmental Science, majoring in marine biology, at Deakin University - a degree that was meant to be finished in 3 years but has taken me almost 5, only because I caught the travel bug in my gap year and insisted on consistently taking my degree abroad. All of my personal, social and career goals in life point towards the same simple idea - that while I'm alive, I'll strive to make tiny changes to earth.  

Anirudh KathirvelGeneral Committee

• Founder and president of the Neuroscience Club at Haileybury, Brain Connections
• Member of the editorial board for Frontiers for Young Minds and have peer-reviewed the article, “How can completely locked-in persons communicate with a brain-computer interface?”
• Completed the Summer Internship Program (Jan 2018) in Behavioural Neuroinformatics with Bioscience Project
• The abstract, “Integrative Genomics Analysis of Epilepsy & Autism in the Developing Brain”, was accepted for poster presentation at the 5th World Congress on Synthetic Biology conference in Tokyo (Sep 2018).  
• Presented on topic – ‘Paradigm shifts in Pharmacogenomics: from personalised to precision medicine’, at the aforementioned conference
• Completed an advanced neuroscience workshop on ion channels at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience
• Member of the Australian Brain Bee Competition (ABBC) student reference group and actively involved in reviewing curriculum
• Completed online neuroscience course developed by Emerging Science Victoria.  
• Winner of AMP Tomorrow Maker 2018 award

Achievements in 2019
• Completed a 7 week internship at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience (Dec 18 to Jan 19) on post stroke recovery in rat model (paper title: Early changes in  Microglia in rat hippocampus following ET -1 induced ischaemia)
• Student leader of the Haileybury Neuroscience Club, which has now expanded to all the campuses.
• Student member of Australasian Neuroscience Society
• Completed a three week summer program at the Neuroscience Research Academy in the University of Pennsylvania
• Completed a three week internship at the Ion Channels and Human Diseases Lab on the functional expression of a cyclic-nucleotide sensitive cation channel in epilepsy  at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience, University of Melbourne
• Presented findings from internship in a poster at the annual Students of Brain Research (SOBR) symposium (Characteristics of HCN1 WT and M305L Mutant with Different Superfusates)
• Attended annual Australasian Neuroscience Society (ANS) conference in Adelaide in December

Prarthana SharmaYouth Ambassador

I am currently a post graduate student studying Masters of Counselling at Victoria University. I have also been an active volunteer at Headspace with the Youth Advisory Committee in Dandenong. I am incredibly passionate about working with the Culturally & Linguistically diverse community to promote mental health literacy and psychoeducation - mainly with young children, adolescents and women.

Tess HoltYouth Ambassador

In 2018, I completed my honours in psychology at Deakin after having completed my bachelors degree. Whilst studying, I worked for Eastern Health as an admin assistant in the mental health department across CATT, community and inpatient settings which was invaluable in gaining an initial understanding of both voluntary and involuntary mental health treatment in the public system. In 2019, I took the year off and worked three jobs in the mental health field in more direct roles. I worked for Mind Australia as a community mental health practitioner and still currently work at Candella as a wellbeing facilitator and at ERMHA as a youth support worker. Working at ERMHA in particular has been incredibly rewarding for me, and working with young people aged 16-25 who are experiencing a combination of disability and mental health issues across hospitals, prisons, residential facilities and private accommodation has opened my eyes to the contrasting needs of younger people. I have learnt a lot about the real problems young people face alongside mental illness and also the perspective of their families and caters, and how this plays a dominant role in their outcomes. This year, I have been accepted to complete my Master of Clinical Psychology at the Cairnmillar Institute and am so excited to develop my skills in both research and clinical client work. I’ve been looking for a way to put all of my work experience and knowledge acquired through study to make a real change in the community to those affected by mental ill health . Mental health in young people is an extremely important passion of mine and I do believe I have a lot to offer in a role such as this.

Mark MoranteYouth Ambassador

I am a 22 year old university student currently studying my Bachelor of Social Work (Honours) and Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology) at RMIT University. I was born in Singapore to a Singaporean Chinese mother and a Filipino father. I moved to Australia when I was in Grade 3 (8 years old). I am currently working for the CFA as a Community Engagement Officer (Casual). I also regularly volunteer with RMIT University as a Compass Drop In Center Volunteer, and as a Peer Mentor. I am also the current Volunteer Council Representative with RMIT University Student Union and am the current sitting President of the Social Work Alliance Project club in the University. I have been volunteering with my local community since 2013, and will continue to do so. Throughout my volunteering experience, I have always focused on mental health, especially around youth mental health. I have helped organised and run mental health related events with the City of Casey, and am continuing to support community and youth mental health with my work at RMIT University. I have also taken Social Work and Psychology as a degree to gain further knowledge and skills to address the issues around mental health.

Demi MagroYouth Ambassador

My name is Demi Magro, I'm a 21 year old Self-Contractor for a Small Business with experience in Social Media Marketing and Marketing Administration. My previous and current roles provided me the opportunity to advertise on Social Media Platforms as well as co-ordinate Events including Exhibitions.
I suffer from both Anxiety and Depression and have since I was diagnosed at 14, my Mental Illnesses have played a crucial part in my reflection of both Academic (both High School and University) and Real Life experiences. My Mental Illnesses had an impact on my ability to adequately perform at a University level and were therefore unsuccessful at obtaining my Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice. For the above outlined reasons I find myself to be a suitable Candidate for the Program.

Adelline CallistaYouth Ambassador

I'm a 22 year old international student from Indonesia currently living in Melbourne for the past four years. I am currently pursuing a specialized graduate certificate on youth mental health and seeking experiences to increase my knowledge on collaboratively building protective factors for healthy youth development. I believe in the importance of connection and holistic healing methods to achieve a healthy mental health. Especially for youths and young adults that are struggling with high instability in their day to day life.

My interest also lies in understanding perspectives from different cultures and paths of lives. Passionately driven in helping others through an empathetic and subjective lens.

Zeenath ZareenYouth Ambassador

My name is Zeenath ( zee ) and such a privilege to be  able to share my wonderful passion about mental health in a bigger platform. A bit of personal insight of me I'm a mum to a beautiful baby boy . A business owner and a teacher . I also have the privilege to call both Australia and srilanka my home .
I'm also a qualified ABA therapist and working towards obtaining my qualifications as a child psychologist.
In my spare time I love to cook I'm a good srilankan cook I must say and volunteer for my chosen charity and go for long walks with my son . I also love spending time at the beach with my family

Mental health issues played a big part of my life . From my personal journey of depression and post natal anxiety  and I believe in open honest conversations around mental health topics are so important.

Yvonne PearseYouth Ambassador

New graduate Occupational Therapist, interested in perusing a career in Mental Health. I am passionate about contributing to the mental health and wellbeing of others in anyway that I can.

Isabelle MalhabourYouth Ambassador

24 years old and fiercely passionate about wellbeing among youth. Specifically students. My career aspiration is to be a wellbeing coordinator in high schools to train students the range of skills involved in maintaining a healthy sense of self, healthy relationships, and healthy relationship with the self. I believe these are invaluable life skills that are essential at this age to ensure they are equipped with skills to manage the intensity and frequency of changes and challenges in their lives at this point in their lives. The prevalence of mental health symptoms and even disorders have grown exponentially over the past 20 years among young people and I believe training young people on how to identify symptoms as well as stressors, and then apply skills they’ve learned through classes at school where they spend most of their time will help improve these rates once widespread. In teaching these classes in school, it can fill a gap in life skills that may be present in families who may be disadvantaged, unaware, or not open to understanding mental illness and how to manage and improve these symptoms and conditions. I am currently a member of ‘Grow Group’ in Carlton, Melbourne that is a government funded group therapy session held every week for young people to discuss the issues they are facing in a non judgemental environment, to allow them to connect with other people with similar experiences and brainstorm ideas of how to create action to address the issue if some are available. Additionally, I am in the process of studying a Bachelor of Arts - Psychology at Monash University and once I graduate I hope to complete a Graduate Certificate of Wellbeing in Schools to get into this field. Additionally, I am in the process of founding the Wellbeing Society under Monash University. The aim of this society is firstly to normalise mental health discussion and skills to decrease stigma among young people at the University. Secondly, to teach young people skills to identify and improve their wellbeing. Through this program I aim to gain hands on experience in teaching these classes to gauge the methods which reflect the most positive outcomes. Through becoming an Australian Youth Ambassador I would be able to get involved in forming these programs and meeting people who are already in this field to learn from them, as well as other volunteers who also want to make a difference in wellbeing among young people who may have great ideas so we are able to collaborate among each other. I want to make any difference that I can and I feel this opportunity would be an incredible start.

Kishwar ZehraYouth Ambassador

I am someone who loves to listen and advise people upon their problems but also is shy at first. My shyness has always been a negative effect as I am unable to express my ideas clearly. However, I am willing to overcome this hindrance through challenging myself to speak at public conventions, after all, I am studying psychology. a profession which requires immense confidence and ability to convey your ideas to people. on top of all this, I love to go on adventures overcoming my fears.

Rahmana BasitYouth Ambassador

My name is Rahmana I’m 15 years old I love bringing awareness about mental health because it’s so stigmatised in society these days as you’ll get over it or your just acting up. When mental health is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly and I feel like more people need to be educated on mental health and also need to be taught how to treat a child with mental health. Also I have experienced and still am experiencing mental health issue which I am not ashamed of because I know I should be advocating to be not be ashamed of it because it happens and it’s ok.

Lauren FerdinandsYouth Ambassador

I am an avid advocate for youth mental health and have had the privilege of working in both community and tertiary mental health setting to develop a holistic understanding of mental health issues facing our young people today. As an occupational therapist by background, I continuously aim to combine my education , passion and advocacy to empower and support the next generation of young people.

Nyasha BandamaYouth Ambassador

My name is Nyasha Bandama and I'm 19 years old. I'm currently undertaking a Bachelor of Nursing at Victoria University and also completing a certificate 3 in Individual Support. I work as a support worker, which has helped me expand my knowledge on mental health.

Ethan MileikowskiYouth Ambassador

I am a 17 year old student in year 12 attending the King David School with a keen interest in Politics, and in particular social policy, especially regarding mental health.

Mark MuoYouth Ambassador

I’m a fun guy who really enjoys being involved with community based services/activities, I enjoy learning about other peoples backgrounds and ethnicity and basically anything. I’m a student currently studying for Diploma of Building and Construction at RMIT City Campus. I’m on my final year, hoping to excel and move into more leadership roles after graduation. I really enjoy making short videos on social media, really enjoy playing sports and walks.

Hilman HambaliYouth Ambassador

I am a passionate individual when it comes to advocating for mental health. Not only that, as a person who struggles with anxiety and depression, I still have the need to help others around me or simply just listen to their problems. I come from an Asian background and typically Asian culture and practices tend to ignore or brush off mental health and well being; I would love to have this opportunity to have a deeper understanding of mental health and well being. I also look forward to promoting positive mental health and well being.  

Wasana LiyanageYouth Ambassador

I am incredibly passionate about mental health, and access to mental health regardless of socioeconomic background. I am often the go-to person when someone needs help navigating services. This can range from who to contact for migration and settlement services to services who specialise in BPD.

I am a bit of an overgrown child, and I use that to make young people feel comfortable enough to talk to me. I believe everyone deserves to achieve anything in the world and equipping young people with the tools to navigate this world.

Emily LawYouth Ambassador

I am very passionate about mental health and lived experience advocacy and have a detailed understanding of the prevailing issues. I have professional experience in counselling and therapy and have a great interest in the fields of mental health, LGBTQIA+, disabilities, at-risk youth, sexual harm, and homelessness. I have been trained in counselling with CBT, IPT, BT, and MBCT and am experienced with undertaking crisis interventions and supporting people with complex needs. I have completed a Bachelor of Science, a Professional Certificate in Counselling, and a Graduate Diploma in Psychology.

Saurag KhanalYouth Ambassadors

My name is Saurag Khanal and I am a native of Nepal currently pursuing my degree of community service in Melbourne. I have been in Australia for about 3 years and have been continuously pursuing a career in the human sector for I enjoy providing the help one may need in their life. I have been a vocal advocate for mental health in many sectors including my own life. I have been interested in psychology and philosophy and have read a great amount of literature on human behavior, world history, and the institutional development of mental health and it's foundations. As a mental health ambassador, I acknowledge the amount of knowledge one needs to have to help and make understand for the people around us. So, I would guess this role would be very helpful as a professional development in my life. I do acknowledge that having an international student as a brand ambassador would not be your first choice as it takes time and a lot of hours but I am a fast learner and think i have acquired enough knowledge to start on this path.  As a student of the human service sector, I have always felt pride in understanding and helping other people.

Elly ShuggYouth Ambassador

Empathetic and caring, some say I’m selfless but I honestly don’t really think twice when others ask for help. I’m studying nursing and I work for a close family friend who has 5 boys all with intellectual disabilities whom I love with all of my being!! I’ve volunteered with MS, and have been to a few mental health functions/lectures/Q&A’s that I’ve found really interesting. Ive never thought to be an ambassador but a lot of people have said I should and I agree!

Martina LuYouth Ambassador

Jessica PhanYouth Ambassador

I’m a year 11 student currently studying in Melbourne. I have found that over the past few years that the importance of mental health is only increasing with the current media and news discussing it without stigma or biased stand point which has encouraged me to put more focus into my mental health

Sharon JeikishoreYouth Ambassador

I am a 16-year-old girl who wants to make a difference in our world by helping to raise awareness and funding for all things related to mental health. I want to be able to care for others and be able to provide or show them the services they need. I am passionate and deeply driven. I have purpose and am highly motivated. I am diligent and thorough in all my work and through this opportunity, I hope to socialise and make better and bigger connections with people of all ages, race and stories.

Lawrence PowerYouth Ambassador

I am a passionate young professional who has recently completed my degree in science. During my time at university, I struggled with my own battle with mental illness but was fortunate enough to seek appropriate avenues of treatment, but it took many months of battling anxiety before I opened up to people. It is my belief there is a serve lack of dialogue in peer groups at university, particularly for those young people who also work. I found it incredibly challenging to overcome workplace-related stigmas around mental health issues, however, I believe my experience can be a lesson to others.

Sophia AoYouth Ambassador

Tram Anh Pham HoYouth Ambassador

At school I am the current captain of the ballroom dancing club and a peer support leader. Last year, I had the good fortune to be selected as a Young Ambassador for the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne, our primary goal was to keep the flame of Australia’s history alive and to attend the major ceremonies held at the shrine. I have a strong interest in history and culture so in my previous high school I joined The Australian Army Cadets and advanced to the position of Lance Corporal before my transfer to my current high school. I participate in volunteering whenever I can and I also tutor primary school kids. I like to play music as I believe in the therapeutic qualities of it. My last high school gave me the opportunity to go to a hospital and learn about music therapy and it’s uses in helping to cure mental and sometimes physical health. I play the piano and have started to learn how to play the violin and guitar.

Jiny LeeYouth Ambassador

Casey DeanYouth Ambassador

I’m a 22 year old female from Melbourne! I completed a double degree in Fine Arts and Business last year, and started working in digital marketing this year! I still live at home with my parents, as an only child.

Mehak SheikhYouth Ambassador

I have been a passionate advocate for the rights and interests of young people within the mental health and overall health/well-being sector for a few years, particularly working with migrant and refugee communities and those in the Western suburbs of Melbourne. Through my experience as a psychology published-student-researcher/graduate and with an interest in the role of education in acculturation and mental health, I hope to support young people and newly arrived migrants to access enhanced well-being and launched a start-up called Unconventional Learning that does this for fringe/marginalized communities. From my experience of studying to be a psychologist, accessing mental health services and navigating the challenges of addressing the stigma of mental health with migrant parents, I have first-hand experience on the ways we can make these services more accessible and culturally sensitive.

I have also previously been an active volunteer with the Youth Advisory Group on my local headspace centre (headspace Werribee), attended national forums to bring light to issues around mental health, been connected to the Emotional Wellbeing Insititute - Geneva and ignited a youth representative voice on the local Primary Healthcare partnership for the west, Healthwest Partnerships, among other experiences. I regularly speak to other youth audiences on this issue and hope to continue bringing awareness and a preventative care framework to health and wellbeing.

Martin KrivosijaYouth Ambassador

Martin is a lawyer, currently working in civil litigation and insurance law. Having also worked in a number of industries including volunteering at a family-education and support not-for-profit, Martin has experience communicating and interacting with people from all walks of life. During this time, he has developed a keen interest in the Mental Health Foundation of Australia and its initiatives. In his free time, Martin has various hobbies and endeavours including computer programming, camping and sport.

Henry MoloneyYouth Ambassador

My name is Henry, I grew up in country Victoria and am now a student in Melbourne. Last year I finished my Bachelor's degree in psychology at RMIT and am about to begin an Honours degree at the Australian Catholic University. While at RMIT I developed a passion for mental health through my studies and experience in volunteer counselling. The former gave me a grounding in psychological science and the latter an appreciation for the struggles of modern youth. I look forward to continuing my education and work in this discipline!

Rae BridgesYouth Ambassador

I am 20 years old and currently attend Monash University, where I am studying my third year of a Bachelor of Psychology (Honours). I also hold the position of the current President of the Students' Neuroscience and Psychology Society. I am extremely interested in Mental Health and its effect on the community, particularly when it is present in the youth age bracket. It is for this reason that I wish to continue into my clinical training and become a specialised youth psychologist after I complete my Bachelors Degree. I have previously held positions on a headspace YAC in my home town of Bundaberg QLD. During my time on this committee I assisted in choosing the venue, design and consortia chair for our local headspace centre. I was also heavily involved in the social media presence that our committee had and as Secretary of the committee, regularly posted on both the Facebook and Instagram for our headspace centre, as well as organising and delegated social media campaigns throughout my involvement. I am currently a Resident Advisor at a Monash University Residential Hall and work closely with university students to ensure their wellbeing is good or improving. As a part of this I undertook Mental Health First Aid training and I am an accredited MHFA, I also participated in SafeTalk Suicide prevention training and active bystander training. Through my volunteering and eventually my career, I wish to give back to whatever community I live in by helping to improve the mental health of as many people as I am able.

Zara Lilia RiccioniYouth Ambassador

Joel BennettYouth Ambassador

I would hope to spread the word about mental health issues and help people with mental health issues. I am a very positive person, that loves to help out strangers whenever needed. I also help a few younger kids in my community to deal with mental health issues, such as telling them what i have been through, listening to them and doing out door activities with these children. I am very passionate about bettering this world in any way possible.

Prachi MehtaYouth Ambassador

My name is Prachi, and I have recently had just completed VCE from Huntingtower School. I am doing a double degree at Deakin University of Criminology and Psychological Science. I am pursuing to become a clinical psychologist in the future. I am a netball and volleyball player, and enjoy learning and partaking in other sporting activities. I currently work as a waitress at Pancake Parlour and I tutor primary school students which I really enjoy. In addition, I involve myself in volunteering activities, the most recent being in 2018 where I traveled to South Africa alongside my peers to work with underprivileged communities, creating sustainable and long-lasting change for their learning environment. In my spare time, I love reading books, writing poetry, baking and listening to music. I also babysit occasionally, a fun fact about me is that I adore children (and love Disney). In school, I was a part of the mental wellbeing team, which came with responsibilities such as raising awareness, organizing fundraisers to support organizations that were directly involved with improving individuals' mental health. Another fun fact about me is that I love traveling, I have been to 36 countries and I love meeting new people and experiencing new cultures.

Josephine BusariYouth Ambassador

I come from a big family, and has spent the first 14 years of my life moving around different countries to find a safe heaven and opportunities. I was born in Sudan and left at the age of 7. I have lived and interacted with people from diverse background, culture and so forth. Positive Mental health is something I strongly care for. I also had a lived experience, so I understand first hand what poor mental health can do to your confidence, ability to plan and execute goals. I found that sharing my story helps others relate or find the safe space to talk about their own mental health.

Sonia DahiyaYouth Ambassador

Facilitator for Domestic Violence Support Group for MHFA (2019).

I Love Exploring new places, reading random facts, marvelling at the architecture of old buildings

Tim ChenworthYouth Ambassador

Chloe JanmanYouth Ambassador

For 3 year I lived in Mildura. In 2018 I was involved in project y which was listening to young people from the community and seeing what is needed. Out if this came the idea of a youth centre but more, which came HomeBase mallee where young people are 10 to 17 can come and participate in activities. I had an idea about getting midnight basketball up for young people where the police and different organisations were involved in. I currently work and HomeBase when I go back home. I am currently studying a bachelor of youth work and sports management  and a diploma of leadership in Melbourne.

Emily MunnYouth Ambassador

I currently work for Headspace, a Youth Mental Health Service which cater to the young people of the community. I am passionate about advocating and raising awareness around mental health and being able to Triage and assist young people everyday is truly humbling.

Daniel BagumaYouth Ambassador

Alice HoYouth Ambassador

Matti GocheYouth Ambassador

I'm a 16 year old secondary school student with a passion for working hard and helping others. I love with my mum, dad and sister, as well as our cat and our brand new French Bulldog puppy. Most people would describe me as calm, understanding and fun-loving. I like to think that people turn to me for advice or help when they need it. I enjoy reading, playing video games and hanging out with my friends. At school I have centered my studies about humans and how they function with subjects such as Year 12 Psychology, Biology and Health and Human Development. I also study English, Mathematical Methods and Italian. I aspire to work as a clinical psychologist.  I have been doing Taekwondo for 6 years. I currently have my 3rd Dan Black Belt and I am a part of my club's Demonstration team. I am currently working at a local McDonald's, at the register, because I work well with people and I am great at communicating.

Melanie PhamYouth Ambassador

My name is Melanie. I completed my Bachelor's in Biomedicine in 2017 and am graduating mid-2020 with my Master's in Occupational Therapy Practice. A very important value in occupational therapy is to advocate for our clients, both on an individual and population level. I believe this aligns with the roles and responsibilities of a youth ambassador.  //

During my university degree, I have had experience working as a student project manager collaborating with stakeholders, creating educational materials for real organisations, and participating in health promotion campaigns.  //

I worked with three other students to produce training materials and a high-quality report for the South Eastern Centre Against Sexual Assault (SECASA), which I am anticipating to be published later this year. As a partnership I had with SECASA, my peers and I also worked to advocate for a small population group of theirs -- children who have caused sexual harm. By aligning ourselves with the SECASA vision of improving the recognition of harmful sexual behaviours as a public health issue, we were able to work towards breaking down the stigma of them as 'perpetrators'.  //

As a part of our health promotion unit, my group decided to explore the issue of perinatal depression in adolescents as we were passionate about youth mental health. While the reach of this project was only within the university, we were able to successfully promote adolescent mental health within the cohort. //

Additionally, I have had placements or volunteer opportunities in the fields of vision impairment, learning disabilities, rehabilitation, aged care, homelessness and sexual trauma. I strongly believe these experiences have further developed my passion for advocacy work. Overall, despite having exposure to a wide variety of different populations, I am enthusiastic to develop my experiences in youth mental health (reasons outlined later).

Elizabeth te LinteloYouth Ambassador

Laura SommerYouth Ambassador

My name is Laura and I am 23 years old. I have my Bachelors Degree in Psychology through Deakin University and have just completed my Graduate Diploma of Counselling at ACAP (due to graduate mid March). I currently am working as a receptionist at a private AAT practice in Melbourne South East. I have volunteered as youth as a mentor with ECHO in the past and really enjoyed that!

Rachel De SilvaYouth Ambassador

I'm a year 12 student comlpleting VCE, and who is currently enrolled at Gladstone Park secondary college. This year I am studying the subjects Specialist Maths, Chemisty, Italian, English and English Literature. In the past few years, I have been increasingly aware of the increase concern with the mental health of our youth. From my personal experience, I see and can tell alot my freinds and classmates struggle with their mental wellbeing, despite getting professional help. While watching idols and celebrities, who have sucided and collapse due to their mental health made me think of the mental health of our youth. Not to be shallow, but I have always been curious in regards to sucide and self harm , as myself cannot relate to it. So I wish to join the youth abassador program , to enlighten myself about it and to help our community and youth to rise above the problems of our mind. I usually have sparks of curosity, like the concept of mental health. I could reading a news one articel one moment and the next momemnt I could be reading the history of planes. It is things like this in like to immerse myself in, even if it's for a short while.

Gracie BinghamYouth Ambassador

I am a 18 year old girl who is currently at school in year 12 completing my VCE. I consider myself a kind, supportive and encouraging person who strives for the best in everything I do. I am extremely passionate about mental health as I have struggled with issues myself. For years I have volunteered at Headspace where I have been able to be apart of a group called Youth Action Force. I am able to go to both secondary and primary schools to make presentations on mental health awareness, and have been involved in running stalls at fairs and school FETE's providing information to parents and students what Headspace is all about. Working there has given me so many opportunities to be apart of something that I truely care about. At school I was awarded College Captain, this has given me another opportunity to incorporate my passion for mental health into my school environment. At school I also am the top art student in my year level, I won the VCE art award at the Yarra Hills Art Show; completing my artwork at school has given me the chance to explore another passion of mine. I have been doing my artwork for as long as I can remember, over the years it has become an outlet of mine that has saved my life many times. I live at home with my mum, dad and two little brothers, I cherish my family and am grateful to have them as I know it's a privilege to have a beautiful and supportive family. I would say I have a admirable group of friends who care and support me as I do them. I have two kittens who are my babies, at home I also have a dog, a lizard and a turtle.

Tharika GoonetillekeYouth Ambassador

My name is Tharika and I was born here in Australia, although my background is Sri Lankan. I love my heritage and it has truly helped shape my values as I have grown up. It has its ups and downs. Sometimes I feel like it helps me feel like I belong and other times, because of my background, I feel like an outsider. I'm a positive minded, friendly and team spirited individual who enjoys the company of others. I love getting to know new people and going outside my comfort zone. I'm generally super organised and punctual too. I worked in retail and as a tutor previously too.
I'm currently a student at Monash University completing my Bachelors in Arts, majoring in Criminology and Human Rights. I'm passionate about human rights and have completed various certificates with Amnesty International. I am a strong believer of protecting and upholding everyone's basic human rights.

In previous years I have really struggled with my own mental health suffering from depression, chronic anxiety and insomnia. After staying in hospital for numerous weeks attending intensive therapy, counselling and medications I managed to gain control of my own mental state. After that I realised how important mental health is in achieving what we want in life. After this I decided to continue with my studies and complete my degree but more importantly, I started my own business. An organic skincare business that helped me gain focus and spend my time and energy into seeing it grow.
After starting my own business, I've been able to help in many other initiatives like sponsoring events for the AFP for the better of the community. I hope that as my business grows, that I too will grow as an individual. It will help me become independent, responsible, self-confident and more importantly, help me help other people who have struggled in their lives.

Zoe Tang-ChongYouth Ambassador

Oliver ShealesYouth Ambassador

I began studying at Swinburne University in 2014, just after graduating high school. Starting down the road of academics I immediately gravitated towards the realm of mental health; having been a keen lover of psychology at a high school level and seeing the impact of stress and illness on my graduating cohort. It was a natural progression, then, for me to take Psychology and Forensic Science during my first year at university.

I loved the study of psychology and have made life-long friends who now work happily in the field. Unfortunately, I became increasingly frustrated when looking at the framework within which the field of psychology lives in Australia. It appeared to me that the application of psychology in both the business and criminal fields was motivated by factors other than the longstanding health of those impacted by mental illness and mental fatigue. One and a half years into my Bachelor in Psychology and Forensic Science I made a leap to a Bachelor of Business majoring in Accountancy at RMIT University. I reasoned that all businesses require accountants, and I’ll be able to gather some valuable experience and networks to then bring into a Masters or Ph.D in Psychology.

Upon beginning my degree in Accounting, I decided to look for work in the field - my introduction into the corporate world. To date I have spent around two years working in public accountancies as an undergraduate accountant. I deeply value my time there, however, it was an enlightening insight into the pressures put on young businesspeople and student interns alike. One company I worked for took an active interest in the mental health of their employees, hosting a talk from famous footballer, as well as implementing a program allowing free online counselling to employees. I believe programs such as the aforementioned demonstrate a growing interest by businesses to explore the role of mental health in the workplace. However effective these programs are, they could always be more widespread – something I hope to be able to work on in the future.

Coming into to the 2020 year, I solidified my position in the Victorian branch of a political party in by joining their policy committee. The main role of the committee is to bring in new ideas to either create, or re-shape and update old policies in Victoria. Being a party with representation in the Victorian Legislative Council, it’s exciting to be able to work on policies that will actually see the light of a parliament floor. I’m aiming to be back at university for the mid semester intake in 2020, to finish some classes needed for me to gain a Chartered Accountancy, while there I hope to become more involved with the activities of the Student Unions, and student governing bodies.

Teaghan AveryYouth Ambassador

I am a 21-year-old currently studying a bachelor of Health Sciences majoring in Rehabilitation Counselling and minoring in Mental Health and Performance.  I am in my final year of my course and have loved every second of it.  The subjects I have taken have broadened my understanding of health and wellbeing.  I have considered studying further in future, as I am especially interested in Occupational Therapy.  I have been working for the past 4 years at Village Cinemas, which I thoroughly enjoy.  One of the most enjoyable elements of my position, is the team that I work with every shift.  I am an avid sports person with a passion for netball, which I play competitively.

Ishara Singakutti ArachchiYouth Ambassador

I’m Ishara Singankutti Arachchige, and I’m 24 years old. I have recently graduated from a bachelor’s degree in nursing (2018). Due to personal commitments, I decided to take a year break from studying and didn’t proceed to undertake a grad year at a hospital.
I rediscovered an existing dormant passion for mental health nursing during my second year of nursing, where I was introduced to that career field for the first time. I soon realized that I have been suppressing that passion, since high school because of the stigma surrounding mental health, especially in the culture that  I was brought up in. Even though I grew up in Australia, I was born in Sri Lanka and my family and I frequently visit Sri Lanka. Hence I didn’t lose my touch with our heritage and I was aware of how mental health illnesses were perceived there.
So I decided to specialize in mental health in my second year of nursing. As I voiced this decision to my immediate and distant family, I was acutely aware of the ambiguity of their reactions. So I continued to expand my understanding of mental health nursing and increased my exposure to this career pathway so that I can challenge my perception of this field.
Currently, I  have resumed my postgraduate studies and am aiming to pursue a career in forensic psychiatric nursing.

Annie SunYouth Ambassador

Rida Aleem KhanYouth Ambassador

Rida Khan currently works at Wellsprings for Women in Dandenong. She has a complicated background as she was born in Pakistan, with first language Japanese and seventh language Chinese (Mandarin) coming from rural Victoria and being a qualified Aged Care Nurse. Rida started her youth leadership by participating in programs like Nexus Horsham to prevent drug and alcohol abuse within rural youth. Rida is a Victorian state Merit Award recipient of Hanyu Qiao Chinese Speaking Competition (2008/2009), regional Lions Youth of the Year (2011), winner at Wimmera Regional Creative Writing Competition (2011). Rida is an alumni of Doxa Youth Foundation (2012), she has been awarded Ancora Imparo Monash vice-chancellor award (2014), followed by being part of Multicultural Youth Network (MYN) under former Minister of Multicultural Affairs Robin Scott (2015-2017). She has engaged in intercultural and interfaith dialogues at schools and universities as part of both MYN and Belief Pathways (2016-2017). She was  the Youth Ambassador at the Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health (2018). An advisor to Victorian Transcultural Mental Health (VTMH) project- "Intersect Out in the CALD" (2018). First Muslim woman Advisor at Monash City Council's MYPRG, she is also part of Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria's  (ECCV) Intercultural Youth Advocacy Leadership (IYAL) and City of Casey's Multicultural Youth Meeting Group.  After nine years of hard work, she is the recipient of High Commission Pakistan Medallion by Government of Pakistan (2018), Sir John Monash Youth Leadership High Commendation (2018).

Olympia SarrisYouth Ambassador

Olympia recently completed a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Melbourne and she is now studying a Masters of Public Health. Health is a most sincere concern and interest of her's. In Olympia's experience as a student, she has witnessed first-hand how deeply mental and physical health issues can impact a student experience at university. As such, Olympia has developed a keen interest in managing chronic conditions, and reducing the stigma around such conditions within the community. She particularly interested in applying her background in social sciences and creative arts to specific policy-making, and the public promotion of health. Eager to learn more about the health sector, Olympia has recently been working as a Student Health Promotion Consultant at the University of Melbourne, to promote health and wellbeing around campus. She look forward to building on the knowledge gained in this position to improve mental health outcomes within the public sphere. To support her own health and wellbeing, Olympia plays mixed netball once a week, exercises daily, and attends traditional Greek dance classes. She is very open about her own experiences with health, and she seeks inspiration from hearing the stories of others.


Mary Anyang TongYouth Ambassador

+ WA

Nishanth Ananth - WAAmbassador

Australia is my third country of residence, I grew up in dubai, did by undergrad in India, and I'm currently studying my masters in Edith Cowan University.
I'm a passionate mechanical engineer, and designing machines is something I am passionate about and have been from childhood. At the same time I do dabble in various other things such as economics, and psychology.

Karina Martin - WAAmbassador

I’m a young passionate individual that strives on helping others and showing that diversity is the most amazing quality anyone can have. Exercise, Acting and being with friends are some of my favourite things to do. I feel these would be able to help me become a great leader and role mode to the youth to help encourage them it’s okay to be yourself, releasing good endorphins help give the mind some clarity and acting is great for self confidence and expressing yourself in a creative way.

Sophia Stante - WAAmbassador

I am a young professional currently managing a charity organisation specialising in reducing social isolation. In my personal time I am heavily involved in the local performing arts scene. I love enjoying the outdoors with my dog and my partner.


Kevin ChengMulticultural Ambassador

Mackenzie Hill - NSWAmbassador

Lauren Thomas - NSWAmbassador

My name is Lauren Thomas, I am 21, and have lived on the Northern Beaches of Sydney my whole life. I am currently studying a bachelor of International public health through the University of New South Wales, and hope to one day work in health policy. I work as a 'health assistant' at a preventative health centre called Osana where a team-based approach is taken to medical care and data is being collected to prove a preventative approach to health-care improves health outcomes. I am passionate about helping people navigate the health-care system and improving their confidence in playing an active role in their health.  I thoroughly enjoy speaking to crowds and engaging with people on an intimate level.  I am outgoing and always carry myself with a can do attitude. Gaining experience in the mental health space  would be valuable to my future endeavours in public health, and i can assure i would throw my whole heart into the role! Outside of working and studying i enjoy riding my bike around the lake, painting and going out and having a boogie.

Savanna Burgess - NSWAmbassador

I'm a 23 year old female living on the Northern Beaches. I have just moved back to Sydney after living in Melbourne to study at university. I'm currently working full time as an assistant at a medical centre and have plans to begin a psychology degree. I am passionate about helping others, specifically in mental health issues.

Rita Suleiman -NSWAmbassador

I am 23 years of age. I have grown up predominantly in Australia yet come from an African background. I am currently a student undertaking a bachelor of Psychology at the University of Newcastle, Australia. My studies will commence in late 2020. I have been involved in various volunteer projects throughout my educational years. These projects span from community services and hospitality, to youth projects within the city council.

Stephanie Magno - NSWAmbassador

Grace Thomas - NSWAmbassador

I am currently the Youth and Multicultural Community Project Officer at Randwick City Council.

I am engaged in a Mental Health Co-ordinated Approach network in Randwick aimed to coordinate and streamline service provision and provide a consistent and trusted network for community mental health and suicide awareness.

I have completed a Masters Degree in International Development, focusing on women's rights, human rights, and refugees & forced migration.

I have a strong passion for mental health awareness, suicide prevention, destigmatisation of anxiety and depression, and the encouragement of help-seeking behaviour. I also believe that mental health does not discriminate.

Jodie Mathews - NSWAmbassador

I currently work in the office of my Federal Member for Parliament, as the Grant and Outreach Liaison. At the same time, I am juggling my studies at the University of Sydney, majoring in Politics and International Relations. I am also on the executive of the Sydney Uni Liberal Society.

I am truly passionate about Women’s Rights, the NDIS and because of my personal experiences, I am increasingly empathetic and aware of the importance of mental health. My job provides me with the avenue to talk to members of the community, who have their own struggles with mental health. Working with charities, non-profits and foundations in the Mackellar electorate has opened my eyes to the compassion of some and the need of so many others.

Stephanie Baris - NSWAmbassador

I’m a current student at the University of New South Wales studying Commerce and Advanced Science majoring in Marketing and Psychology (4th Year). Along with my studies I’ve been working at Arc @ UNSW – the student life organisation on campus – as the Suggestion Box, Wellness, and Philanthropy coordinator for the past few years. These roles have mainly seen the development of skills and knowledge in volunteer management, event management, and time management along with firsthand knowledge of youth in a university context. More so, I have experience in Mental Health First Aid, disability sensitivity training, and as a Peer Educator and Youth Advisory member for Playsafe NSW, which provides key information on poor health and wellbeing, and ideas to improve it.

Hayfa Bakour - NSWAmbassador

I am a recent graduate of a psychology major with a major interest in mental health youth. During university, I was often found in the recreation room discussing university stresses with other young females and acting as a voice of motivation. I am currently working for a local community organisation as a project officer for their mental health clinic. In my role, I am responsible for producing health promotion material targeting the local CALD community and facilitating positive psychology inspired workshops.

Syprus Lakisoe-Mapuna -NSWAmbassador

I am a Kiwi Samoan who is aware of having our culture as the highest percentage in suicide. I have been School Captain and SRC in primary and high school. I competed in Public Speaking competitions in school and went to regional level so I am a great speaker. I am currently attending Australian Institute of Music as a singer and a performer, I know how to interact and engage an audience. I also teach Sunday School and sing in a church choir. I played for the Bulldogs representative Under 18 Rugby team and represented state in European handball. I find myself often talking to people about choices, dreams and possibilities. It is in communication and connection that we can change things for those who are confined in the darkness of their minds. I think that being interested and connected in many areas means that I am able to connect with a diverse range of people through sport, music, public speaking and church.

Harry Ly - NSWAmbassador

I am up-to-date and fascinated with the current affairs; moreover, at times I find myself wanting to contribute to the cause. As such, I volunteer most of my time in my local community and extra-curricular endeavours that aim to empower the youth.

Coming from a second-generation migrant family and a low-socio economic background in South-West Sydney has fuelled my strong passion for social justice and commitment to education. Although I still have a lot to learn and I am still growing as an individual, I am proud that I am currently developing a network of young people in South-West Sydney with The Youth Co-Lab to provide the same opportunities that I once received from my own community. Moreover, drawing from my diverse and multicultural background, I am a person that believes that small steps - regardless of how insignificant it may seem - towards a greater cause can amount to a positive difference.

Indi Sofyar - NSWAmbassador

I currently study Commerce and Design at UNSW. I am employed as a Peer Educator by South Eastern Sydney Local Health District, a role for which I am appointed to primarily conduct outreach, but also to act as part of a committee member that provides consultations to youth centres around NSW in order to make them more youth friendly. My accomplishments for this role include taking part in the planning of a training conference for several different youth groups to engage in team based activities, knowledge sharing, and skill building. For this I provided ideas on creating a training activity in which peers would develop a solution to a chosen problem such as how to improve mental health among youth. Additionally, this role provided me with a variety of different training. This included mental health first aid; which I learnt about bi-polar disorder, anxiety, and depression and how to assist people with these disorders. I also learned about gender diverse and sexually diverse communities as well as how to approach people of different cultural backgrounds.

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