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Victoria Legal Aid

Welcome aboard: our new program manager announced

Helen Makregiorgos has been appointed to the role of Manager, Independent Mental Health Advocacy.

Kristen Hilton, Director Civil Justice Access and Equity at Victoria Legal Aid, said Helen’s appointment was an exciting milestone in the establishment of the new service.

‘Helen brings a great blend of skills and knowledge of mental health services,’ Kristen said.

‘She has a wealth of experience leading significant projects and implementing new services, and comes to the role from Women’s Health West where she is currently the Senior Manager of Health Promotion, Research and Development.

‘Helen’s leadership and experience will be extremely valuable in making sure Independent Mental Health Advocacy is designed around the needs of people receiving compulsory treatment.

‘Her expertise will also be vital in bringing a new team together and developing a supportive and positive culture. We’re looking forward to having her on board.’

Helen has worked in various leadership and senior management roles across the health sector, including mental health, women’s health and sexual assault. She has a Masters in Social Work, where she focused on the acute response to mental health needs of women during pregnancy, and has worked as a social worker.

Helen has worked extensively with mental health consumers including advocacy work across a range of social sectors, and in the development of accessible resources and programs.

She has led the development and implementation of organisational-wide and strategic plans.

She has extensive experience supervising and managing staff across diverse roles, including social workers, community development workers, Aboriginal Liaison Officers, drug and alcohol advocates and psychologists.

Helen will begin work in the role on May 18. 

Focus group gives us insight into what consumers need

We recently asked people with a lived experience of mental health services to help us ensure our branding of Independent Mental Health Advocacy is clear and well-designed to meet the needs of those receiving compulsory treatment.

Liz Carr, Acting Chief Executive Officer of Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council, led a session where we heard valuable insights from eight consumers about what works well in written and visual materials.

The focus group gave useful feedback on the colours, imagery and visual look of the branding that is currently being developed.

Diane White, Project Manager of IMHA, said hearing from the group was a very important opportunity to learn what consumers respond to.

‘We are keen to make sure our information strikes the right chord, and hearing directly from people who have used mental health services is the best way to do that,' Diane said. 

‘We heard, for example, about how being in a hospital environment, which at times can be chaotic and frightening, can have an impact on people’s ability to take in a lot of information at once.

‘This confirmed for us the need for information to be plain, simple and well-presented, so that it cuts through, clearly conveys what Independent Mental Health Advocacy can do, and makes it easy to find out how to get in touch with us.

‘These insights will help us make sure that our posters, brochures and website get across the right message: that our advocates are approachable, and will work side-by-side with people so they can have as much say as possible about what works best for their own treatment, care and recovery.’

Diane White, IMHA Project Manager, and Simone Colburt, Design Director from Kontrast, explore branding options with consumers in the focus group.

Exploring the need for compulsory treatment in the community

An upcoming event at Melbourne University will explore the human rights implications and perceived advantages and disadvantages of compulsory treatment in the community.

The seminar will be chaired by Professor Bernadette McSherry, Foundation Director of the Melbourne Social Equity Institute and Adjunct Professor, Melbourne Law School.

A presentation by Associate Professor Stefan Sjostrom on the implementation of compulsory treatment orders in Sweden will be followed by a panel discussion on the situation in Victoria. 

When: 14 May 2015, 6.00 pm – 7.30 pm

Where: Melbourne Graduate School of Education, 234 Queensberry St, Carlton

Bookings and more information: Melbourne University Events

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