The MHFA Australia Team | Mental Health First Aid Skip to main content

Nataly Bovopoulos, CEO

CertIVTAE (MRWED), BLiberalStud(Hons Psych) (Sydney), MIPH (Sydney), PhD Candidate (Melb)
Nataly Bovopoulos is the CEO of MHFA Australia. She joined the MHFA Australia team in 2011, first as Program Manager, then from 2012 - 2016 as Deputy CEO and also served as the Company Secretary from 2011 - 2015. Nataly brings almost 15 years experience working in the not-for-profit mental health sector. Nataly has previous experience in state-wide mental health promotion roles and coordinating research projects with young people and families experiencing anxiety and mood disorders. Nataly is passionate about innovation, technology and disseminating effective population based evidence-based strategies like Mental Health First Aid. She has a particular interest in the workplace and is completing a PhD on mental health first aid strategies in the workplace with Prof Tony Jorm, co-founder of the MHFA Program. She is an accredited Standard MHFA Instructor.

Sharon Rayner, General Manager

BA (Melb), MPH (La Trobe), MHlthSci (La Trobe)
Sharon oversees MHFA Australia’s operational and corporate support functions, including having responsibility for business development, and leading the finance, information technology, administration and marketing functions. With a background in public health / health policy, Sharon has worked in leadership positions across the education, health and not-for-profit sectors. Sharon’s focus is on supporting organisations to grow and improve through executing strategic plans and implementing a continuous improvement approach.

Dr Claire Kelly, Youth Programs Manager

BA(Hons) (ANU), PhD (ANU)  Adjunct Fellow (Deakin)
Dr Claire Kelly is the Manager of Youth Programs at MHFA Australia and an Honorary Fellow at Deakin University. 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.

Fiona Blee, Standard Programs Manager

BA (ANU), MPH (La Trobe)
Fiona Blee is an experienced program manager who has worked in prevention and early intervention relating to mental health and substance use for 10 years. During this time she has coordinated a number of applied research trials in addition to developing training packages and interventions for teachers, youth and allied health workers. She is an accredited Standard and Youth Mental Health First Aid Instructor and is passionate about reducing stigma and encouraging help-seeking.

Suraya Bin Talib, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Program Manager

CertIVTAE (KTI), DCoun&PsyTh (AMAWA), MEd (Deakin), BASc ICMD (Curtin), AdvDip Bus Mgmt (UOB)
Suraya joined the MHFA Australia Team in April 2017, having moved to Melbourne from Perth for the opportunity. Suraya is a Bardi and Jabirr Jabirr woman from Broome, Kimberley region north of WA. Suraya has an extensive career encompassing 24 years working within Government (state and federal), private business, local community and Indigenous community controlled organisations within the Kimberley and throughout Australia. She has worked across diverse sectors, namely mental health, community services, community development, education, training and Indigenous affairs. Suraya is passionate about motivating mind sets on the importance of achieving individual Social and Emotional Well Being, maintaining physical fitness and health and increasing individual and community awareness, knowledge and skills around MHFA.

Louise Kelly, Specialised Programs Manager

BA. Comm (USQ), MA. Ed (USQ), GDipPsych (Monash)
Louise Kelly is the Manager of Specialised Programs at MHFA Australia. Louise’s previous experience is in the higher education sector, working to champion mental health within tertiary settings. Louise is a passionate advocate for mental health and well-being literacy as well as models that promote prevention and early intervention. She is an accredited Standard MHFA Instructor.

Leonie Marks, Older Person Program Manager and Instructor Coordinator

BA Psychology, Dip Management, Dip Community Service Work, Cert IV TAE
Leonie is an experienced trainer/facilitator, with qualifications in psychology, counselling and management and a background in private practice and community service work. She is a Principal Master MHFA instructor, accredited to deliver Standard, Older Person, Tertiary, Blended and Tailored MHFA courses. Leonie is dedicated to raising awareness and understanding of mental health, as everyone’s business. An advocate of personal recovery, she views MHFA as a highly valuable and effective tool in inspiring individuals and communities to new levels of insight, responsiveness and care for self and others.

Gloria Claessen, Consultant Instructor Trainer and Standard MHFA Instructor 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.

Katrina Dart, Consultant Instructor Trainer and AMHFA Instructor Coordinator

BA (CSU), MSocWk (Deakin), MChildProtection (CSU)
Katrina Dart is a Barkinji woman from far west NSW. She has worked in many different areas including mental health (child and adolescent and Aboriginal Child and Adolescent Mental Health), case work, child protection and disability. Currently, Katrina is a Consultant MHFA Trainer of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander MHFA Instructors and AMHFA Instructor Coordinator. She is very passionate when it comes to mental health, given she has many family members and extended family members, who have diagnosed mental health issues. Katrina is committed to improving the mental health of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and is passionate about reducing stigma associated with mental illness and psychotic illnesses in particular.

Nathan Campbell, AMHFA Consultant Instructor Trainer

Nathan is both an Aboriginal (Yidindji – Gordanvale, Nth QLD) and Torres Strait Islander (Komet – Mer (Murray Island)) man who has been a Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander MHFA Instructor since Feb 2013. He has been training instructors in AMHFA since Oct 2015. Nathan has been working as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advanced Health Worker with Child and Youth Mental Health Service on the Gold Coast since 2012 and is currently studying a bachelor degree in Psychology. He is passionate about reducing the stigma surrounding mental illness and spreading the message of the importance of achieving and maintaining strong Social and Emotional Wellbeing through the community.

Denise Warmington, Instructor Trainer and Youth and teen MHFA Instructor Coordinator

B Nurs (Deakin), PGDip MH Sc (Melb)
Denise is a Credentialed Mental Health Nurse and Lecturer in Nursing at Deakin University who completed her instructor training in 2012. Denise has worked in the area of mental health for over 16 years and is a passionate and enthusiastic Principal Master MHFA Instructor who is accredited to deliver Standard, Youth, Teen, tailored and blended versions of the MHFA course. Denise is dedicated to increasing participants mental health literacy, confidence and willingness to offer support to those experiencing a mental health problem or mental health crisis.

Alena Farrugia, Consultant Trainer Youth and Teen programs

BA. Artistic Philosophies (WSU), DipEd (WUS), Dip Professional Interior Design (AID)
Alena Farrugia is a National Consultant Trainer of Youth and Teen programs at MHFA Australia, as well as a recognised Principle Master MHFA Instructor. An experienced educator with over a decade within the educational field, she has work in a number of varied settings with a particular focus on Special Needs. Alena is the Founder of Beyond Limits Learning Clinic, aligning her personal mission with that of BLLC, in looking towards actively breaking down stigma, and championing the improved support, early detection and treatment of mental health illnesses in our community by providing relevant, ‘down to earth’ learning opportunities for all.

Betty Kitchener AM, Consultant Instructor Trainer

BA (UNSW); GradDipSpecEd (Canberra); GradDipCommCouns (Canberra); BNurs (Canberra) & MNurs (Canberra), Adjunct Professor (Deakin)
Betty Kitchener is a Trainer of Instructors in the Older Person MHFA Program, having developed this Program in 2017. She is also an an Adjunct Professor at Deakin University. She is the immediate former and founding CEO of MHFA Australia. Betty is an experienced educator, counsellor and basic researcher, and was previously a registered nurse. 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, an Order of Australia Medal in 2008 and became a Member of the Order of Australia in 2015.

Tony Hoare, Consultant Instructor 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.

Margi MacGregor, Consultant Instructor Trainer

Cert IV in TA, Grad Dip Psych, M Couns (Monash)
Margi has a passion for raising mental health awareness and combines this with her training background to deliver engaging, interactive Mental Health First Aid and Youth Mental Health First Aid training. She strongly believes that education is the key to destigmatising mental illness and enhancing community support. Margi holds a Certificate IV Training and Assessment, a Graduate Diploma in Psychology and a Master of Counselling degree from Monash University and is currently completing a Double Diploma in Vocational Education and Training and Training Design and Development.

Leanne Northausen, Senior Finance Officer

CertIVBkpg (IBI)
Leanne Northausen has been a part of the MHFA since 2005 and has watched it grow steadily over the years. She believes in the MHFA 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 and continues to have great passion for the Program. Leanne enjoys her fur-kids and her country living lifestyle.

Emiliano Fernandes, Accountant

BCom, CPA Australia
Emiliano Fernandes joined MHFA Australia in June 2013 as an Accountant. He has robust experience in financial management and accounting and has worked in various private and public sector roles in Melbourne.  Prior to relocating to Australia in 2010, he worked as a senior accountant for several years for a multinational company in Dubai. Having recently made Victoria his home, Emiliano perceives his current role in MHFA as an opportunity to contribute positively to the Australian community.

Amanda Taylor, Inventory Coordinator

Prior to moving to Melbourne in 2017 Amanda worked in logistics, warehousing and distribution in the Brisbane market for a global company distributing leading market brands. Amanda’s role with MHFA is Inventory Coordinator. She is excited for a change of industry and is looking forward to gaining a greater understanding of mental health and how to support others.

Dr Kathy Bond, Research Officer

BSc (Towson), GDipCouns (TC), MHSc (Sexual Health) (Sydney), PhD (Sydney)
Kathy Bond joined MHFA Australia in 2012. She is currently our Research officer and holds an honorary position at the University of Melbourne. Kathy first developed a passion for assisting those with 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 and PhD. Her current position with MHFA Australia is the perfect marriage of these two passions. Her other interests include fostering neonatal kittens, spending time with family and reading.

Fairlie Cottrill, Research and Project Officer

BC (Professional Communication), MPH (Melbourne)
Fairlie joined the MHFA Australia Team in April 2017. She is currently completing her Masters of Public Health at the University of Melbourne, majoring in program evaluation. Fairlie's role with MHFA enables her to combine her interests in project coordination and research to support the evaluation, development and growth of MHFA Programs. She is passionate about the importance of prevention and early intervention approaches to improving population health, and has particular interests in mental health and homelessness.

Kathryn Chalmers, Writer/Editor

BA (Monash), MMarketing (Deakin), MC-SOCW (University of Melbourne)
Kathryn has a research background in the areas of mental health literacy, consumer behaviour and ethical marketing. From 2012-2014 she worked as a Research Assistant with MHFA Australia and the University of Melbourne, predominantly working on communication guidelines for Aboriginal youths and MHFA for the confused older person. Kathryn completed her Masters of Social Work in 2016 and rejoined the MHFA team on a casual basis at the beginning of 2017. She is passionate about applying her skills and knowledge to help improve the mental health and wellbeing of all Australians.

Nathan Palmer, Admin Team Leader and Program Coordinator

BCom(Fin) (Flinders), DipFinServ(FinPlan) (Kaplan)
Nathan possesses extensive experience working in various professional service oriented organisations across the legal, finance, charity, not-for-profit and higher education sectors. In addition to his role as Team Leader, he is the Program Coordinator for the Youth MHFA and teen MHFA programs. Nathan’s passion stems from his personal experiences with mental health issues and the support of others during times of need. Nathan would like to see the stigma towards mental health problems reduced and for mental health to be treated in the same regard as physical health.

Maria Vaid, Admin Team Leader and Program Coordinator (on maternity leave until May 2018)

Maria began her role as Program Officer for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander MHFA course, in September 2012. She currently works as the Program Coordinator for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs, as well as the Youth and teen MHFA programs. Maria’s working background is mainly in business and administration. She is excited to have started working with MHFA Australia 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, and thus fits very well within the MHFA Australia team.

Maddison Watts, Program Coordinator

BSc (Health Promotion)(Curtin)
Maddison has a background in Health Promotion, and joined the MHFA team in mid 2016. Maddison provides administrative support to MHFA instructor courses, in particular the Standard and Older Persons program. She is passionate about promoting awareness for mental health, and hopes to contribute to reducing social stigma surrounding mental illness.

Spencer Lai, Program Coordinator (AMHFA) and Stock Coordinator

BFA Hons (VCA)
Spencer began working with Mental Health First Aid in September 2016. While maintaining a career as a professional artist, their interests lie within mental health and wellbeing. Spencer has first hand experience with mental health issues from friends and family and believes in the promotion and implementation of mental health awareness and support services. Their current position at MHFA involves providing administrative support to the team as well as customer support.

Erin Healy, Personal Assistant

BA Hons, (Nutrition and Dietetics), GDip (Health Promotion)
Erin joined the MHFA team in July 2017 after completing a Graduate Diploma in Health Promotion. She has previously worked as a Research Assistant and a Private Practice Dietitian in her home-town of Adelaide, South Australia, and has since followed her passion to begin a career in Mental Health. Erin has a strong passion for reducing the stigma that surrounds mental health and is excited to assist the team at MHFA to make a positive impact on the health of our community members.

Ellison Bloomfield, Marketing Manager

Ellison Bloomfield is an experienced marketer and joined the team in June 2017. After years of working in advertising and marketing roles she felt it was time to move into a more meaningful role. Ellison is passionate about mental health and has been writing about her lived experience of mental illness for 6 years. As a person living with bipolar type 2 she is particularly interested in improving understanding of mental illnesses and increasing the opportunities for those with lived experience to share their stories.

Belinda Hood (Azzaro), Marketing and Communications Officer (on maternity leave until January 2018)

DipFArts&AppDes (RMIT), CertIIIAccAdm&Bkpg (Monash), CertIVBkpg&Acc (Monash)
Belinda Hood comes from a background in Marketing, Design and Advertising. She first developed a passion for those affected by mental illness when she experienced the effects first hand and saw how life debilitating mental illness can become. She is a big believer in our program and passionate about promoting mental health awareness. She feels that it is a great privilege to be part of our cause to reach those in need by educating the wider community and reducing the stigma surrounding mental illness.

Katherine Birt, Communications Officer

BA (Professional Writing), GDip (Psych), PGDip (Psych), DPsych (Clinical)
Katherine has been with the MHFA Australia Program since April 2009. She began as the Youth MHFA Program Administrator, and has been our Communications Officer since 2012. She completed her Doctorate of Clinical Psychology in 2015, and has since worked on a casual basis with the team. Katherine is passionate about educating the general public around mental health problems, reducing the stigma associated with mental health and promoting help-seeking. She loves balancing her individual clinical work with her public mental health work with MHFA.

Sunny Yiu, Senior Drupal Developer & DevOps Engineer

CSM (ScrumAlliance); B Software Engineering (ANU)
Sunny joined the MHFA Australia team in 2014 to work on the continued development of the MHFA website and the Web Instructor Management System (WIMS 2.0), as well as MHFA's cloud hosting infrastructure. He has been working as a professional Drupal Developer and Linux Administrator since 2010. He has a great interest in computer security and applied cryptography. In his spare time Sunny is an avid Tai Chi practitioner, and enjoys a good paleo style meal, as well as other interesting cuisines around Melbourne.

Rene Hostettler, Drupal Developer

BA, Multimedia/Media - (Swinburne)
Rene has been a Drupal developer professional since 2008 this experience has given him exposure to most areas of the stack and he is particularly well versed in drupal as a commerce platform. He is delighted to be part of such a great organisation like MHFA where he can use his development skills and experience to build technological tools and solutions that are helping to improve the lives of people affected by mental health problems in our community. When he isn’t working he is on an eternal quest to find Melbourne's best dumplings or tinkering with addressable led sculpture electronics and programming.

Cassandra Tam, Assistant Web Developer

BDes (MultimedSys) (RMIT University)
Cass is a web developer who joined MHFA in 2017. She has a discerning eye, and aims for all her work to be flawless - be it frontend or backend. Prior to working in the IT industry - you’ll never guess it - she was a dispensary technician in a pharmacy! With a background in healthcare, she has grown a passion for helping others take care of their physical and mental health, making a goal of putting smiles on people’s faces. Outside of the screen, Cass enjoys singing, baking, and going out on social adventures (ranging from trying out new cafes to hiking). Her Google calendar is constantly filling up with events - please book in advance. Last note: While she enjoys tea and coffee, she will kindly decline your offer if the coffee is instant.

Maria Tsoulakas, Drupal Web Developer

DIT (SD) (Holmesglen)
Maria joined the MHFA Australia team in July 2017. Touching base with Drupal for the first time in 2008, she has grown to be a professional Drupal developer and is excited to share her experience and skills for others to benefit. She feels thrilled when she sees people improving their lives and feel at ease. When she is away from the computer, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, listening to music, cooking, as well as making her favourite traditional sweet, galaktoboureko.

Brendan O'Keefe, Tech Support and Digital Media Officer

Brendan has a passion for life-long learning, especially informal learning, eLearning, and the promotion of 21st century skills. Brendan comes to MHFA Australia with a wealth of experience in digital production, web development, social media, and small business management. He also has six years experience working in community services as a youth worker. Brendan's role at MHFA Australia is full time, and is designed to support the roll-out of new MHFA eLearning courses and other digital media projects. Brendan also looks after technical support for eLearners, Instructors and MHFAiders. He has been impacted on many levels by mental health through family, friends, and as a youth worker, which is why he springs out of bed in the morning knowing his role will make a difference.

Mark Wilson, Tech Support Officer

BA (Communication Studies)
Mark works in technical support, helping solve problems for anyone who visits the website. He is currently studying a Masters of Information Technology, and is interested in the ways technology can assist our daily lives. He is also eager to open up the conversation around mental health and make it easier for people to access the help they need. In his spare time, he loves to explore the seemingly endless stream of new restaurants, cafes and festivals in Melbourne.

Tim Marwick, Software Engineer & Consultant

Tim works part-time with MHFA as a software engineer & consultant. He has worked extensively with MHFA over the years, including 2 years full-time as lead engineer on MHFA's WIMS and eLearning systems. Since then he has worked for a 500 Startups backed company, in San Francisco and digital-nomad hotspot, Chiang Mai, Thailand. Now back in Australia, Tim is happy he can still contribute to the MHFA project, and has co-founded another startup: - teaching kids how to code magic spells in Minecraft!

Frank Skender, Consultant 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.


The MHFA mascot, ALGEE, has been with the MHFA Program since 2004. 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 information on what we do can be found here).