Candidates for President – Jenny Learmont
Jenny has been a carer for over 40 years for her son who developed severe obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) at the age of 13, and later developed bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder (BPD), and, in an effort to relieve very distressing and debilitating symptoms, resorted to drug and alcohol misuse.
For many years Jenny had no referrals for supports for herself as a carer, so in 1990, taking the initiative, she was elected Chair of the Anxiety Disorders Alliance (ADA), a Standing Committee of the NSW Mental Health Association (MHA), a position she held until 2006.
ADA commenced support groups for those with OCD and other anxiety disorders, and their carers and friends. ADA later established self-help groups for consumers, “Triumph over Phobias & OCD” usually known as TOP, and, in 2000, introduced “Small Steps”, an early intervention programme that disseminated information about anxiety disorders to primary-school teachers and parents.
ADA also established an anxiety information line, held free community anxiety forums and held two national conferences on anxiety disorders.
ADA significantly added to community awareness of anxiety disorders and to current treatments available, and contributed a great deal to breaking down prejudicial attitudes towards people with mental illness.
From 2006 to 2016 Jenny was President of the Anxiety Disorders Association NSW Inc, (ADAN). The Anxiety Disorders Association NSW Inc. (ADAN), was established in 2006 to assist health professionals, carers and consumers through workshops, seminars, and conferences. Since 2007 ADAN, has worked with beyondblue, university researchers, local community groups, MHA, Lifeline, and local councils, convening free community forums on anxiety disorders, and held a very successful, well attended National Anxiety Disorders Conference. Jenny in 2005 was a founding member and then Chair of the NSW Consumers Advisory Committee on Mental Health (NSW CAG).
She is a member of the advisory committee for the Centre for Emotional Health, Macquarie University, is a member of Private Mental Health Consumer Carer Network (NSW), and is also a member of the Anxiety Disorder Reference Committee NSW.
In 1996 she was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM), and admitted to the degree of DOCTOR OF MEDICINE HONORIS CAUSA, at the University of NSW for eminent service to the community. For many years Jenny lead a research team into long term non-progression of HIV in a cohort of blood transfusion recipients at The Australian Red Cross Blood Transfusion Service. Jenny is now an Honorary Associate of the Centre for Virus Research at the Westmead Millennium Institute.
Candidates for Vice President – Lynda Walton
Lynda was a carer from a young age after her father returned from war and experienced post traumatic stress disorder.
Lynda found herself in many caring roles throughout her life, including caring for many friends with drug and alcohol issues.
Lynda has volunteered as a mental health advocate within her local community, mostly for people from culturally diverse backgrounds including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, some of which Lynda took into her home to avoid them becoming homeless.
She worked in aged care from the age of 12 and became particularly passionate about aged care advocacy when her own mother was financially and emotionally abused.
Lynda herself was diagnosed with a Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in 2003, said to be exacerbated by her carer roles. Lynda also now cares for 2 of her children who have a lived experience of anxiety.
Lynda has experienced a rich and fulfilling life and due to her personal history and subsequent recovery journey, has had many professional and personal achievements.
Candidates for Treasurer – Andrew Pryor
Andrew is an experienced senior finance executive and leader. He has some 30 years of financial corporate experience, including over 20 years at Westfield Group, the industry leading ASX 20 property group, and over 5 years at Big 4 Accounting firm PWC.
Andrew holds a Bachelor of Commerce from University of NSW, is a Chartered Accountant and a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD).
His professional experience at Westfield included as a financial Group General Manager for the last 12 years, during which he has shown to be an engaged, respected and collaborative corporate and finance executive.
Andrew is passionate towards improving the mental health sector across our society, and applying his skills and experience to the escalating battle of mental health particularly for our youth.
Andrew is a carer for his daughter during her mental health journey throughout her teenage years through to today, including the most recent diagnosis of Schizophrenia. This has provided experience and insight into the mental health system, including public and private hospitals and various treatment therapies and programs. This lived experience has provided a base for being a strong advocate for carers.
Andrew is on the headspace FAFC Advisory Committee, providing consultation, governance and guidance on the strategic direction and development of headspace mental health services across Western Sydney.
Candidates for Ordinary Board Members – Rob Wellman
Rob has been involved with MHCN and previously with ARAFMI on the Central Coast for over 30yrs. He has been on the Board of MHCN for over 3 years and was also a member on MHCN’s Peak Advisory Committee before it disbanded.
In 2021, Rob worked very hard for seven months in relation to I/A with the support of Prof. Bruce Bonyhardy to lobby the disability sector to put forward submissions to the Senate Select Committee and lobbied Federal Politicians.
This campaign was successful and the independent assessment proposal was withdrawn by the previous Government.
At present, Rob has been raising the current review of the NDIS by the new Government at Board meetings.
Rob hopes to continue this work if reelected.
Candidates for Ordinary Board Members – Raj Gopalan
Raj has over 30 years of experience in the IT and telecommunications industry in Australia. He has acquired a well-rounded business expertise over the years by performing a variety of roles. He has performed senior roles in marketing, sales, business development, integration consultant, strategy formulations, program/project management, process improvement and operations as well as channel sales and channel development
Raj has specialised in Indirect Channel area both in IT & Telecommunication sectors and involved in setting up new channels, partner programs, Channel sales, Channel development & process set-up, Channel audit/compliance and commercial operations.
Raj has worked with leading organisations like Tatas, Fujitsu, and Telstra as well as customers like Castlemaine Tooheys during his corporate career.
Raj holds an Honours degree in Engineering specialising in Electronics and communications and a Post graduate diploma in Information technology
Raj also has over 20 years of experience as a carer for his daughter with Autism, mental development delay and behavioural disorder issues.
It has been a long and tough journey for him and provided him with rich experience and insight into the mental health system, including hospitals, specialists, respite care, group homes, day programs, various therapies, and the NDIS. This lived experience has provided him with a solid background for being a strong advocate for carer’s welfare.
Raj is passionate about carer’s welfare and believes in continuous improvement of current systems and participates in co-design work at Northern district health and MHCN. He also volunteers with service providers like Sylvanvale and Inala when needed and a regular volunteer with OzHarvest and Meals on wheels.
Confirmation of Appointment to the Board of MHCN as Ordinary Board Members
Robyn holds a degree in Applied Science, a Diploma in Gemmology, a Certificate IV in Bookkeeping, and formerly she was a registered jewellery valuer for a number of years.
She worked as a Hospital Scientest for twenty-five years and was second in charge at Manly District Hospital for a number of those years.
In the 1990s she had a complete change in careers and opened an antique jewellery business which she operated for twenty years.
During these years, Robyn has been a carer for her husband, a Vietnam War veteran who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as well as her son who was diagnosed with Schizophrenia, OCD, Depression and severe anxiety (which was diagnosed when he was in his late teens.)
Having these experiences, Robyn wanted to help others in similar situations.
In 2004 Robyn was appointed to the Management Committee of the Balgowlah Pioneer Clubhouse. Whilst on that committee she was the prime mover for the further development of that Clubhouse by the building of a recreation hall and kitchen facilities. She, together with another lady took on the responsibility of raising funds for this development. Further, Robyn was the project manager for that development.
Also, whilst involved with all these matters, she was a co-manager of a respite for carers program which was run by the Schizophrenia Fellowship.
In 2010 she was appointed to the Board of the Richmond Fellowship of NSW and was involved with the amalgamation of Richmond and PRA which became Richmond PRA. In 2012 in a re-branding of that organisation it became Flourish Australia. Robyn remained a Director of that organisation for the maximum number of ten years. During that time she was the Committee Chair of the Service, Quality and Safety sub-committee and until 2021, a member of the Marketing and Advancement Committee.
In 2011 Robyn received a Community Service Excellence Award for Manly Rotary Club for her contribution to Pioneer Clubhouse.
25th October, 2022