The Network is an incorporated association established under the Victorian Associations Incorporation Act 1981. Our mission is to build on our 30 year legacy and champion women’s mental health in collaboration with our stakeholders by:
- Providing information to the community about women’s mental health and wellbeing;
- Promoting research into areas relevant to women’s mental health;
- Promoting opportunities for training and education in women’s mental health;
- Contributing to reform and influencing policy and practice to be more responsive to women’s needs.
In 1988, a small group of concerned women identified crucial gaps in the Victoria’s mental health services available to women. They found services were often unsafe with little attention paid to the particular needs of female consumers. These early advocates for change included consumers, carers, mental health workers and interested community members. The Network was born of their commitment and since this time we have been actively contributing to growing awareness of the needs of women living with mental illness by providing training on gender-sensitive practice across sectors, advocating for women’s safety in psychiatric wards, writing submissions that are informed by our members including to the Royal Commission into Family Violence (2015) and the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System (2019).
Over 30 years, the Network has grown to become an influential voice in the mental health care of women. We have done this by bringing together a diverse network of interested women and organisations. The new Committee of Management was established in 2019 and are a dedicated team of volunteers who provide governance for the organisation and ensure that the work we do is informed by our members and is in accordance with our objectives. The Committee of Management establishes Working Groups and Sub-Committees as required and members may be co-opted to join the groups to provide special knowledge or skills.
Committee of Management
Dr Astha Tomar is a psychiatrist with over 15 years experience in mental health in both public and private settings. She is presently the Head of Youth Mental Health Services at Peninsula Health and a psychiatrist in private practice. She is also the Deputy Chair of the Victorian Branch of the RANZCP. Astha has been active in leading the policy response to COVID-19 and wellbeing of Health Care Workers, Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System and recent Productivity Commission Report in Mental Health. She has contributed to numerous other policy statements and submissions produced by the RANZCP. She has also held an appointment on the Realtime Prescription Medicine External Advisory Group, Safe Script in DHHS and is currently working as a Leadership Fellow at Mental Health Reform Victoria. Astha is particularly passionate about better access to and support for women’s mental health issues, which over the years appears to have lost its priority at decision making tables and needs active advocacy. Astha continues working on these challenges as a committee member of Women’s Mental Health Network Victoria.
Jo is a freelance evaluation and policy consultant, who specialises in the mental health sector. Her goal is to support the development of a health and social services system that puts people at the centre. As a consultant, she has worked with PHNs developing their regional mental health planning, for not-for-profits and community health services to design and evaluate mental health initiatives, and to inform government policy at the national and state levels. She previously worked with Beyond Blue, leading their policy and evaluation work in the workplace mental health space, and continues to have a passion for creating psychologically safe and thriving workplaces. Jo also has lived experience of mental illness, and is proud to combine her personal and professional experience in all her work. As a mental health advocate, she has contributed to work with a range of mental health organisations, including SANE, Orygen and Beyond Blue, and in a personal capacity to the Royal Commission into Victoria's Mental Health System. She also currently sits on the Board of the Australian BPD Foundation.
Amanda is currently the CEO of Australasian Association of Nuclear Medicine Specialists and is currently also serving on two national boards: Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) and Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League (AIVL). Previous experience includes working as a Manager Strategy at Djirra; an Aboriginal family violence prevention legal service, serving on the National Asthma Foundation Board and as President of Asthma Foundation ACT and Board Member Global Sisters (project to create financial independence for refugee women). Has over 15 years experience in working in and with the community and non-government sector, primarily in the areas of mental health and disability. Was CEO for Community Mental Health Australia (CMHA), Policy and Stakeholder Engagement Manager, College of Mental Health Nurses; National Policy Manager, Palliative Care Australia; and worked as a consultant in mental health, disability and vulnerable population groups.
Anita Savic is a registered Clinical and Counselling Psychologist and a Member of the Australian Psychological Society (APS), including a Member of both the APS College of Clinical Psychology and the APS College of Counselling Psychology. Anita also serves on the Committee of the APS Military and Emergency Services and Psychology Interest Group. With over 15 years’ experience working as a psychologist, manager and leader in complex mental health, including expertise in the area of trauma and post-traumatic mental health, Anita is currently positioned at Phoenix Australia - Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health as a Senior Clinical Specialist and second in command to the High Risk Portfolio. Anita also has extensive experience working at Victoria Police and Ambulance Victoria as a psychologist.
Marilia is a registered psychologist with ten years of international experience in the mental health and social services sectors. Previously working at the Dubai Autism Center screening proposals for research collaboration and community engagement initiatives. Has also had direct experience fundraising including in a previous role at COOJ Trust and planning events and liaising with organizations’ as part of Corporate Social Responsibility. Has experience working in the private psychiatric field and public mental health as well as support to the Education team at Phoenix, Centre for Post Traumatic Mental Health where she also worked on a research project on consumer satisfaction with services provided by the organization.
Louise Roberts is a professional Fellow of CPA Australia; a recognised expert in accounting and finance. Louise also holds an eMBA and has had a successful career as a senior finance executive with over 15 years experience leading teams. Louise is the Director and Company Secretary of START Foundation who provide grants for amputees to participate in their chosen sport. Previous roles include General Manager of Finance and Control at TransDev Australasia and General Manager of BAE Systems Australia.
Dr Sonja Skocic is a Senior Clinical Psychologist who has held leadership roles across private psychiatric and public hospital based mental health services as well as Not for Profit community based organisations. Sonja is an experienced Director, previously serving on several Not For Profit Boards in the area of family violence, mental health and professional associations and is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD). Sonja's vast clinical and management experience provides guidance on best practice in clinical care, education, research and training as well as strategic planning and governance. Sonja's work focuses on the mental health of women and girls and currently serves as Chair of the Committee of Management for Women's Mental Health Network Victoria as well as being the Founder and Director of Melbourne Centre for Women’s Mental Health. Sonja is also involved in the Ethics of Scientific Research and Healthcare evaluation and serves on a Human Research Ethics Committee for Healthscope, providing leadership in relation to the conduct of research in mental health.
Jess has a Masters degree in Advanced Nursing Practice (Mental Health) and is the Unit Manager of the Acute Women's Unit at Forensicare. Serving the Women's Mental Health Network Victoria on the Committee of Management for her second year.
Kate is a Women's Specialist Social Worker at Thomas Embling Hospital (Forensicare) and also works in Family Healthcare Support for the Complex Care Program (Royal Children's Hospital).
Kate is qualified in Social Work, Criminology and Forensic Behavioural Science. She first developed a passion for reducing social inequalities and tackling women's rights issues when volunteering abroad in India (2015) and Kenya (2017).
Kate is an active advocate for women in the criminal justice system and aims to support and empower criminalised women to increase positive outcomes.
Kate also has a background in working in Youth Work and Disability Support.
Carol is a PhD candidate in the Department of General Practice at the University of Melbourne. Her current research focuses on gender sensitive care, mental illness and sexual violence. She is a Registered Psychologist with a Masters in Clinical Psychology.
Carol has a background in researching and working in Mental Health, Disability, Youth and Positive Behaviour Support.
She currently sits on the Sexual Safety Committee as the Networks’ representative.