National Register - VIC Representative Profiles
If your organisation is seeking consumer and carer representation, please click here to find out more about the selection process. Please note that all requests for representation will be referred to the consumer and carer driven selection process - it is not possible for an organisation to request an individual representative.
Suzie Adam, Carer Representative
My name is Susan Adam and I am one of the original National Register members, and was honoured to be chosen for a third time to represent the grass roots issues of Mental Health Carers on the Mornington Peninsula. In 2010 I was elected President of the Peninsula Carer Council Inc., one of the largest volunteer Carer Support Groups in Australia with a membership of over 150.
I was one of the first Family Carer Consultants at Monash Health and set up the Family Engagement programs at Frankston and Dandenong Youth Prevention and Recovery Care Services.
I hold a Master of Social Sciences in Family Therapy after completing a B.A. in Psychology and Humanities whilst caring for three family members living with various physical and mental health conditions, and finding that there was nowhere I could go for support.
I have held many advocacy roles over the years, a recent favourite being Co-Chair of the Mental Health Coordinating Council workgroup for the Cert IV in Mental Health Peer Work. I am a member of the Expert Reference Group for the Department of Health; evaluating the National Early Psychosis services and the Peer Workforce Development Guideline Project for the National Mental Health Commission. I have learned so much from my representative roles and am currently enjoying being on the Steering Committee for Primary Mental Health Care Data Reference Group.
In my very limited spare time I thoroughly enjoy my grandkids, yoga, painting, my garden, going to live music concerts and the theatre.
Evan Bichara, Consumer Representative
Evan is a long time MH Consumer Advocate for the diverse Australian populations, including the mainstream.
Evan has extensively studied his field well having attained a Certificate IV in Community Disability Services trained in working closely with people who require special needs. Evan further attained a Diploma in Community Development, a Post Graduate diploma in Case Management.
With encouragements from friends, family and neighbours Evan per sued into Mental Health following a setback & from his scientific studies in obtaining a MH Advocacy role within the Victorian Trans-cultural MH Service within the St Vincent’s Hospital serving all the Multicultural communities at local state and federal levels. In that role Evan ran successfully 2 major Cultural groups for 16 years.
Evan’s passion is bringing healing to people who have been through a rough experience. Evan helps people including their families to find healthy perceptions & strengthen their relationships so that peace, whole & safe mediums can be linked by community. Evan knows that there is no single approach that is right for every individual….so Evan has been in the job trained on numerous modalities of approaches in getting people back on their feet.
Judith Drake, Consumer Representative
I’m a Melbourne-based, independent consumer advocate passionate about social justice, community inclusion and mental health reform. I have extensive experience across diverse areas including reference/advisory groups, research and evaluation, support group facilitation, training, events, document/website review, peer support (including with volunteer emergency service workers) and family violence prevention.
I regularly attend conferences around Australia & have presented on diverse topics: NDIS, consumer participation, trauma-informed practice, dissociation, self-care, disclosure, mental health service improvement, self-harm, Hearing Voices approach.
I hold qualifications in psychology, business, and training & assessment and have completed additional courses such as Applied Suicide Intervention Skills (ASIST), Intentional Peer Support (IPS), Alternatives to Suicide and Consumer Leadership.
Current interests include NDIS and psychosocial disability, national standards for digital mental health, and how emergency services interact with people experiencing mental health challenges. Highlights include helping coordinate the consumer-led, multi-disciplinary World Hearing Voices Congress (2013, Voices Vic), receiving a Mind Community Award (2016) for Outstanding Contribution by a Client to Service Improvement, a special commendation for my ePoster at TheMHS (2015), and being on Victorian Mental Health Tribunal Advisory Group (TAG).
I believe in working collaboratively, respectfully and authentically to bring about real change that improves people’s lives.
Marie Piu, Carer Representative
CEO Tandem – Peak body for Victorian Mental Health Carers
Marie is passionate about advocating for a health system which supports consumers, families, carers and service providers working together in partnership to strengthen outcomes for people facing mental health and wellbeing challenges. She is thrilled to be entrusted with the leadership of Tandem as she has been in a caring role for her mother since she was a young child and has firsthand experience of the power of working in partnership.
Marie is a registered psychologist and member of the Australian Psychological Society. Her postgraduate studies in Applied Psychology provided her with the theoretical underpinning and professional skills for her future focus on systemic advocacy. She has been lobbying for service improvement, accountability and family/carer inclusion in care throughout her professional career. She has worked for nearly three decades to ensure that marginalised community members, many impacted by serious mental illness and their families/carers, have access to better care and community services and that there are policies, procedures, professional guidelines, and wherever possible, an authorising environment in place to support this.
Marie has held Senior Management roles, managed multidisciplinary staff and multiple national and state-wide programs and projects in a broad range of contexts including: Community and Mental Health, Trade Union and Policing, with extensive experience and interest in working with Aboriginal and Multicultural Communities.
Lisa Sweeney, Carer Representative
From a young age, I have had personal experience supporting two family members with a lived experience of mental illness. This early insight into public mental health has led me to follow educational and vocational pursuits in public policy and health with the aim of improving mental health services. After working in Government for a decade, I am now working in the mental health sector in a policy and advocacy role. I also trained as a naturopath with a focus on adjunctive mental health.
I am involved in a number of mental health causes including the Board of Tandem - Victoria’s peak body for mental health carers, and Australians for Mental Health – a national grassroots mental health advocacy campaign led by people with a lived experience of interacting with the mental health service sector.
In my (not so spare) time, I really enjoy sharing my journey as a mental health carer through writing and have published blogs pieces in forums such as HuffPost. I do this in the hope it can help me make sense of some of my own experiences, as well as maybe assist other carers navigate their own situation.
My key areas of interest include psychosis, supporting young consumers and carers, and holistic and integrated mental healthcare (including promoting treatment choices).
There are a total of 4 consumer and 4 carer representatives from VIC currently on the National Register.
Please note that representative profiles are not currently available for all National Register members.