Betty Kitchener OAM, CEO and Adult Programs Manager
BA (UNSW); GradDipSpecEd (Canberra); GradDipCommCouns (Canberra); BNurs (Canberra) & MNurs (Canberra), Adjunct Professor (Deakin)
Betty Kitchener is the CEO of MHFA Australia. Betty is qualified and experienced as an educator, registered nurse, counsellor and basic researcher. Betty and her husband Professor Tony Jorm co-founded the MHFA Program in 2000. She has facilitated the spread of the MHFA Program across Australia and to 20 other countries. Betty, having experienced recurrent major depression herself, brings an important consumer perspective to her work. She has received numerous awards for her MHFA work, including an Exceptional Contribution to Mental Health Services Award and an Order of Australia Medal.
Nataly Bovopoulos, Deputy CEO
CertIVTAE (MRWED), BLibStud(Hons) (Sydney), MIPH (Sydney), PhD Candidate (Melb)
Nataly Bovopoulos has been with MHFA Australia since April 2011, first as Program Manager, and since August 2012 as Deputy CEO. She played a major role in establishing MHFA Australia as a not-for-profit national charity. She previously worked in the role of Mental Health Promotion Manager for 3 years with the Mental Health Association NSW. She also has 5 years experience working in a variety of research coordination roles with children, adolescents and families experiencing anxiety disorders. Nataly is passionate about innovation, social justice, technology and developing effective evidence-based strategies to promote positive mental health and prevent mental ill-health. She is currently completing her PhD part-time on mental health first aid in the workplace. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring Melbourne’s culinary delights and taking photos of her Scottish Fold kitten.
Dr Claire Kelly, Youth Programs Manager
BA(Hons) (ANU), PhD (ANU)
Dr Claire Kelly is the Manager of Youth Programs at MHFA Australia. Claire has been involved with MHFA since 2003, when she first became an instructor while completing her Doctorate at the Centre for Mental Health Research at the Australian National University in Canberra, where the program was first developed. Prior to her current position, Claire worked on the MHFA Guidelines used to develop Edition 2 of MHFA and YMHFA. Claire’s PhD thesis was written on the mental health literacy of Australian adolescents. Her main passion is the mental health of young people and minimising the impacts that mental health problems can have on development, educational outcomes and long-term functioning. Claire has suffered episodes of depression and anxiety since adolescence, which has been a driver for this work.
AJ Williams-Tchen, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander MHFA Project Manager
CertIVTAE (HBTA), CertIVGov (BHNLC), DipComServices (Swinburne), BSocWk(Hons) (VU), GradCertCarEd (RMIT), GradDipCarCouns (RMIT), MSocWk (Melb), MEd (VU)
Andrew-James (AJ) Williams-Tchen is a Wiradjuri / Wotjobulak Aboriginal man with over 20 years experience working within health, education, Aboriginal health and community services. AJ has been a MHFA Instructor since 2009. As of November 2012, he has delivered nearly 200 courses across the Youth MHFA, Standard MHFA and Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander MHFA courses. He has worked in a variety roles, as a nurse, social worker, youth worker, educator, and career counsellor. He still can’t decide what he wants to do when he grows up. His interest in mental health extends from personal family history and a willingness to demystify stereotypes about mental illness and support people in knowing what to do when someone they know is developing a mental illness or in a mental illness crisis.
Gloria Claessen, Consultant MHFA Trainer & Standard MHFA Course Coordinator
CertIVTAA (Lifeline), CertIVCommMed (RS), BAMed (Macq), DipEd (La Trobe), MEd (UC), GradDipPDEd (UC)
Director, RICO Training, Processes & Strategies
Gloria Claessen is a highly experienced and qualified education/training professional. She is a Principal Master MHFA Instructor and a National Trainer of Instructors for Standard and Youth MHFA Programs. Gloria also attends to queries from Standard MHFA Instructors about their MHFA courses and extensions. In her role as MHFA Instructor and MHFA Trainer of Instructors, Gloria has adapted the course to the particular needs of a number of contexts including community, university, NGO, corporate and government agencies. Her company, RICO (Resilient Individuals, Communities and Organisations) provides a range of training, processes and strategies, which promote resilience in individuals, as well as communities and organisations.
Tony Hoare, Consultant MHFA Trainer
RN BA (Melb), BAppSc (La Trobe) MNSt (La Trobe)
Director, Action Education
Tony Hoare is a Director of Action Education Consultants, with a diverse nursing and education background. His professional interests are gerontology and mental health, and he is a Consultant National Trainer and Principal Master Instructor with MHFA Australia. Tony has for many years held a part-time contract with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs as their National Aged Care Adviser, and for the last year has redesigned and rewritten their Men’s Health Peer Education training program and materials. Tony is passionate about slow food, fast music, his young family and edgy comedy. And MHFA.
Katrina Dart, Consultant MHFA Trainer
BA (CSU), MSocWk (Deakin)
Katrina Dart is a Barkinji woman from far west NSW. She is a mother of 3 and a grandmother of 4. She has worked in many different areas including: mental health (child and adolescent), case work, child protection, and disability. Currently, Katrina is employed as the Aboriginal Mental Health/Disability Officer at Mungabareena Aboriginal Service in Wodonga Victoria, and as a Consultant MHFA Trainer of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander MHFA Instructors. She is very passionate when it comes to mental health, being that she has many family members who have diagnosed mental health issues.
Leanne Northausen, Finance Officer
Leanne Northausen has been a part of the MHFA since 2005 and continues to have great passion for the Program. Having had mental illness in her family, and personal experience with mental illness, she believes in this Program and has seen over the years that MHFA courses make such a difference to so many people, including people affected by mental illness and those around them. Leanne feels privileged to work for MHFA Australia. Leanne enjoys her fur-kids and her country living lifestyle.
Louise Woodruff Sanz, Standard MHFA Program Officer
Louise Woodruff Sanz began working with MHFA in 2012, as the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander and Youth MHFA Program Administrator. Later in 2012, Louise took on the role of Standard and Youth MHFA Program Officer. Since early 2013, Lou focuses on the program administration of the Standard MHFA Course. Louise is passionate about her role within MHFA Australia.
Maria Ibarra, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander MHFA Program Officer
CertIIIBA (ABTI), CertIVBus (ABTI)
Maria Ibarra began her role as Program Officer for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander MHFA course, in September 2012. She is currently undertaking a Bachelor of Secondary Teaching. Maria’s working background is mainly in business and administration. She is excited about her role within MHFA Australia, having started at a time when so many things are happening and she feels privileged to be part of it all. Maria is passionate about education and youth mental health.
Chrisi Kirova, Youth MHFA Program Officer
GradDipArts (UOA), BA(Hons) (UOA)
Chrisi began working as the Youth program officer in 2013 and is very excited to become part of the MHFA initiative. She is originally from Bulgaria and her wish is that one day she might see the program adopted in her home country. Chrisi feels very passionate about feminist issues and is planning to start her Masters in Psychology in early 2014. Chrisi works 3 days a week and enjoys the rest of her time with her young son, who keeps her fully occupied and happily exhausted.
Katherine Birt, Communications and Web Officer
BA (Deakin), GradDipPsych (Monash), PGradDipPsych (Deakin), DPsych (Clinical) Candidate (Deakin)
Katherine Birt began working for MHFA in April 2009, as the Youth MHFA Program Administrator. She began her Doctorate of Psychology (Clinical) in 2012 and is currently working 2-3 days per week for MHFA Australia as the Communications and Web Officer. Katherine strongly believes in the benefits of MHFA for individuals, workplaces, and communities, and is inspired daily by the work of Betty Kitchener and Tony Jorm, and others involved in MHFA Australia.
Kathryn Chalmers, Research Assistant
BA (Monash), MMktg (Deakin)
Kathryn Chalmers has worked as a Research Assistant for four years, mainly in the areas of consumer behaviour and ethical marketing. She is passionate about applying her research skills and knowledge to help improve the health and well being of Australians. Kathryn is excited to be a part of improving the public’s understanding of mental health at MHFA Australia.
Kathy Bond, Research Assistant
BSc (Towson), GDipCouns (TC), MHSc (Sexual Health) (Sydney)
Kathy Bond first developed a passion for assisting those with mental illness/mental health problems when working for an organisation that helped people with injuries, illnesses and disabilities enter or re-enter the workforce. She developed a passion for research when completing her Master’s. Her current position with MHFA Australia is the perfect marriage of these two passions.
David Jorm, Consultant IT Systems Developer
David Jorm has been working with MHFA since early 2005, developing IT systems such as WIMS and providing technical support to MHFA staff. David is the son of MHFA co-founders, Betty Kitchener and Professor Tony Jorm. He has been working in the software industry for 13 years, and specialises in software development and computer security. He is currently finishing a BA in Mathematics and Geography at the University of Queensland.
Tim Marwick, Consultant IT Systems Developer
Tim has been working closely with MHFA since 2010, providing web design and development services, and IT support for the MHFA office staff. He is currently working on a complete redevelopment of the MHFA website and Web Instructor Management System (WIMS) to provide the framework for growing MHFA’s online presence, and provide increasingly useful online tools and services for MHFA Instructors, MHFAiders, administrators and partners. Tim completed his first MHFA course in 2008 with Betty, and is very happy to be working with MHFA today, as it allows him to dovetail his professional interest in technology and systems engineering in the service of MHFA’s social welfare program. In his spare time Tim enjoys yoga and meditation, cycling and hiking in the outdoors, and Melbourne’s rich music and arts scene.
Frank Skender, MHFA Stock Storage and Dispatch
Director, FS Pack and Mail Services
Frank Skender has been working for the MHFA Program since it moved to Melbourne in 2005. Frank’s company, FS Pack and Mail Services (conveniently located in the same building as MHFA Australia), specialises in providing professional packing and courier services. He does a wonderful job of storing all of the MHFA stock, sending out all orders of MHFA materials from Instructors and members of the public, and packing and sending materials for our Instructor Training courses.
ALGEE®, MHFA Mascot
The MHFA mascot, ALGEE, has been with the MHFA Program since it began in 2001. ALGEE is passionate about promoting mental health literacy and decreasing stigma surrounding mental illness. The initials of his name stand for the MHFA Action Plan: Approach the person, assess and assist with any crisis, Listen non-judgmentally, Give support and information, Encourage the person to get appropriate professional help, Encourage other supports (more info here).