Community Reference Council

The formation of the Turner Institute Community Reference Council is the first step towards achieving the Turner Institute's vision to make long-lasting and sustainable impacts on the lives and mental well-being of all people in our communities.

Members of the Council represent key leaders in mental health across many sectors of the Australian community. The Council will provide a diverse voice to The Turner around our strategic research and clinical goals and ensure that they are sensitive to the needs and goals of the community. The Council will also support the development of specific, local community partnerships for each of The Turner’s research and clinical activities. The Council will help shape the mental health landscape in Australia and help realise our vision of a more inclusive, engaged and shared partnership in maximising the mental health of all Australians.


Jan Donovan, Chair

Jan DonovanJan was appointed to the Consumers Health Forum of Australia Board in 2014 and reappointed in 2017. She Chairs the Finance, Audit and Risk Committee of the Board.

Her experience includes public policy, strategy, and governance matters at Board level through her nine years (1998- 2007) as a member of the Board of the National Prescribing Service (NPS Medicines Wise) and five years (2005-2009) as a member of the Board of the Australian Primary Health Care Research Institute at ANU.

Jan participates in National Policy Forums at the strategic level for and has done so for three decades, including eight years with Council on the Ageing - six years in the role of National Policy Officer. Jan is a passionate advocate for addressing health equity and the social determinants of health with a focus on people with chronic illness, access to primary health care, the national medicines policy, mental health, aged care, and indigenous health.

“Community engagement has never been more important for all institutions in our society. Covid 19 has brought major change and disruption to our lives and has shown more than ever the importance of listening and involving communities, no matter how they define themselves.
As a consumer advocate in health for three decades, I have always pushed for more and better community involvement. Decisions that greatly affect people’s lives should only be made after thorough consultation and engagement with those who will be most affected. Covid 19 has shown us here in Victoria that hasty, poorly thought-out decisions made with no community participation and planning can lead to great distress and loss of trust in those imposing restrictions.
Talking with community leaders first to work out ways to act together is a much better way to go for government to make changes to the way people lead their lives.”

Ashley Paxton

Weenthunga logoWeenthunga in Woiwurrung means “hear / understand”.

Weenthunga Health Network is contributing to health equity for First Nations people in Victoria through:

  • Increasing the Aboriginal health workforce
  • Advocating for anti-racism and decolonising within the health and education sectors
  • Embedding and valuing First Nations' knowledge and practice, and
  • Ensuring better understanding and practice of health professionals to improve experiences, care and outcomes for First Nations people and communities

Our unique Aboriginal-led networking model values two-way collaboration, and is underpinned by relationships, respect, reciprocity and responsibility. Weenthunga takes a holistic view of health, valuing First Nations knowledge from the outset by seeing the whole self. This is a much more integrated approach to health and wellbeing than commonly underpins the Western biomedical model and as such, mainstream health services.

Weenthunga’s Victorian Aboriginal Health Education Network online lead, Ashley Paxton will represent Weenthunga on the CRC. Ashley is a proud Waywurru woman born and raised on Boon Wurrung Country in a matriarch spanning many generations of strong Waywurru women. From before she was born she has been taught about the importance of connection to community, culture, Country and spirituality which has and continues to guide her throughout her life. Ashley is also a registered psychologist and works directly with the Victorian Aboriginal Community.

The Turner Institute greatly values Australia’s First Nations peoples’ unique knowledge, wisdom and expertise in terms of developing well, living well and ageing well. We greatly appreciate the opportunity of listening, learning and being guided by the Weenthunga Health Network.


Jacob Thomas

“Jacob Thomas is one of Australia’s most prominent leaders in sexual orientation and gender identity. A nonbinary person living in Melbourne, Jacob uses the pronouns they/them and works at Monash University where they guest lecture in Global Studies, Pyshcology, and various other fields of study to provide lived experiences of LGBTIQA+ populations. They are currently undertaking their PhD in Public Health and Preventative Medicine at Monash University, and building the world's first health roadmap for LGBTIQA+ youth.

In 2016 Jacob received the Queen's Young Leader Award, recognising Jacob’s work on suicide prevention for Australia’s LGBTIQA+ community. Jacob previously sat as the Coordinator of the Commonwealth Youth Gender and Equality Network (CYGEN) and represented the network at international levels such as the 61st session of UN Women’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) and the ECOSOC Youth Forum in New York, the (former) Duke and Duchess of Sussex, the 11th Commonwealth Youth Forum in London, and at AIDS2018 in Amsterdam.

Jacob advises public, private and non-profit organisations on issues related to the LGBTIQA+ community, diversity and inclusion policies, and queer-friendly work environments. They are a mentor to many senior leaders in Melbourne and internationally.

As a speaker and facilitator, Jacob has presented a TEDx Talk at QUT on the ideas around gender identity, is a contributor to Archer Magazine and Star Observer, and has written a personal essay for BuzzFeed about their experience coming out as nonbinary.

In Jacob's spare time they are an advisor to the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, Chief Advisor to Pride Academy,a friend of Parents of Gender Diverse Children, a designer, pastry chef, and sometimes drag artist."

"It is a privilege to be a bridge between our LGBTIQA+ youth communities and the Turner Institute's Community Reference Council. Our young LGBTIQA+ people are some of the most at risk in terms of mental ill health, and it is fundamental they have the opportunity to speak to their own needs when it comes to research, policy, and health interventions. Though I personally missed out on queer-inclusive health interventions as a young person, it is exciting to be in a position to now help co-design new programs so the next generation of LGBTIQA+ young people don't miss out. Breaking the cycle of systemic discrimination in psychology and medicine can be done, and it is in the best interests of our young people that we do so collectively."

Moira Junge

Dr Moira Junge is a Health Psychologist and the CEO of the Sleep Health Foundation (SHF). She is also the Director of the Australian Sleep and Alertness Consortium (ASAC). The SHF is Australia’s leading advocate for sleep health in the community and has grown rapidly in the last 10 years to have a strong media presence and excellent website resources for people with sleep issues.  ASAC is a research and development consortium that specialises in promoting industry and academic relationships to increase knowledge and outcomes in the sleep field. It was established in July 2020 to build upon the outputs, expertise and legacy of the Alertness CRC. In addition to this ASAC research, the SHF also facilitates rigorous research about sleep problems for individuals in the community, such as for carers and adolescents with mental health issues.  Moira has over thirty years’ experience in the healthcare sector and has worked in the sleep field since 1994. As a Health Psychologist, she has focused on health challenges and health behaviour change at an individual and population level so it was a natural transition for Moira to move across from the clinical setting to the health promotion and community advocacy setting. She firmly believes that prevention is better than cure.

“The SHF is a community-facing organisation, so community engagement is central to our objectives. We want our messaging to reach all Australians and we need to particularly reach vulnerable groups including First Nations people and culturally and linguistically diverse populations. Our mission is to provide the entire community with access to evidence-based education and solutions for sleeping difficulties and to raise awareness of the links between sleep and mental health and chronic health conditions”

Nick Rushworth

Nick RushworthNick Rushworth has been Executive Officer of Brain Injury Australia – the peak body representing the needs of the over 700,000 people with a brain injury - since 2008. In 1996, Nick sustained a severe traumatic brain injury as a result of a bicycle accident. Before joining Brain Injury Australia, Nick worked for the Northern Territory Government setting up their new Office of Disability.

Formerly a producer with the Nine Television Network’s “Sunday” program and ABC Radio National, Nick’s journalism has won a number of awards, including a Silver World Medal at the 2003 New York Festival, a National Press Club and TV Week Logie Award. Nick is also a Director of the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations, and is an Ambassador for the National Organisation for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders and the Queensland Brain Institute’s concussion research.


Shane Lucas

Shane LucasShane commenced in the role of Chief Executive Officer of the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation in March 2019.

Shane has held executive and senior management positions in the non-government, government and private sectors since 2000. He served as CEO of Early Learning Association Australia from 2013 to 2017, and was a full-time member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal from 2017 to early 2019.

Between 2011 and 2016, Shane was an Advisory Board Member of Deakin University’s Master of Public Policy Program. From 2011 to 2013, he was Vice-President of the Board of Early Learning Association of Australia, where he was also a member of the Finance and Executive sub-committees.

Shane has a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) from Monash University and a Diploma in Migration Law from Victoria University. He is a graduate of the Victorian Leadership Development Centre and a Williamson Fellow of Leadership Victoria.

"Community engagement is about working with people. Collaborating, sharing, experiencing. Immersing yourself and your organisation in community and addressing challenges and opportunities alike with integrity.
This approach guides the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation in everything we do: from our partnerships with community and professional sporting clubs that encourage kids to ‘love the game, not the odds’, through to a range of support services we fund for Victorians at risk of, or experiencing, gambling harm.
I look forward to working with the Turner Community Reference Council to strengthen the understanding of, and response to, the complex and co-morbid issues associated with mental health and gambling harm, and to explore new ways in which we can deliver the best possible support services to those who need them."

Shehani DeSilva

Shehani DeSilvaShehani has worked with Victorian Transcultural Mental Health as an Education and Service Development Consultant since 2013.

The Victorian Transcultural Mental Health (VTMH) supports the mental health of diverse individuals, families, communities and systems. They work closely with the mental health sectors. They exist to support the efforts of those who are interested in improving cultural safety and to elevate the importance of cultural safety in mental health practice, policy, and the allocation of public resources.

Shehani has a background in psychology and community development and has worked in these sectors for 20 years working directly with communities and grassroot community and mental health organisations. Before joining VTMH, she coordinated the transcultural mental health access program at Action on Disability within Ethnic Communities (ADEC) in Melbourne, working with consumers, carers and communities from diverse cultural backgrounds. She also worked in New Zealand with a trauma service for refugees and asylum seekers as a counsellor and advocate and at Schizophrenia Fellowship supporting consumers and carers to access housing in urban Wellington.  Prior to migration, Shehani's work in Sri Lanka consisted of working with also organisations such as UNICEF Sri Lanka working in projects supporting and building the capacity of community organisations funded to work with communities impacted by civil war.

"The importance of putting community in front and centre of mental health care and response has been an important part of my work in mental health for the past decade or so. Equity in its true sense in any sector is not possible if parts of community are left behind.
It is my belief that this cannot be achieved unless concerted efforts are made to focus on collaborative work with communities responding to local needs identified by the community themselves. Whilst there is much work of this nature to be undertaken by the mental health sector, research, that incorporates the community narrative in co-design overwhelmingly leads to more innovative outcomes, including system efficiencies, connected understanding of community needs and increased stakeholder engagement. Whilst I hope to support the Community Reference Council to reflect on the role of research in supporting local communities, I also hope this will provide us with opportunities to explore what meaningful collaborative work look like, whilst honouring and holding these multiple perspectives."

Soo-Lin Quek

Executive Manager, Knowledge, Advocacy & Service Innovation

Soo-Lin has over 30 years' experience in the community and government sectors. She has worked in senior roles state government managing significant policy and program areas; and her previous experience in the community sector range from managing community based organisations to grassroots program delivery in the youth, multicultural, family violence, human rights and public housing sectors.

As part of her current role, she oversees CMY policy, research and advocacy on emerging issues for young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds. It includes sharing of knowledge to help build a culturally responsive workforce in the youth, multicultural and human services. Through a combined application of research knowledge, she is also responsible for designing and developing new program responses to emerging youth issues.


Lynette Moore

Lynette's career has focused on dementia care, disability support and child and family welfare with for-purpose organisations. She held leadership roles of CEO, senior manager of a range of services, and manager of philanthropic grants (fundraising). This was underpinned by her earlier work and qualifications in education and occupational therapy.

She served on the Council on the Ageing Victoria (COTAVIC) Board (2010-2021), including as Deputy President, and participated in Alzheimer's Australia Vic's Board (1996-2010).

Lynette retired in 2019 and now continues to contribute to the community through a range of roles with for-purpose organisations as well as enjoying many family and personal leisure activities.

"My professional life has been driven by a passionate belief in the rights, dignity, empowerment and independence of people with disabilities, older people and disadvantaged people. I am delighted to contribute to the Turner Institute's Consumer Reference Council, working strategically with others to ensure that consumers' voices drive the Institute's work."

Rebecca Challoner

As well as being the CEO and Founder of My Special Child and the National PEKE Centre, Rebecca Perkins is also a Writer, Presenter and Trainer on neurodivergent conditions. Most importantly Rebecca is Mum to two boys who have ADHD one of which is also Intellectually Disabled. Rebecca herself also has diagnosed ADHD and Dyslexia.

Rebecca has written hundreds of articles, two eBooks, numerous short books and guides and is currently in the process of writing a full length book on Understanding ADHD. Rebecca has provided support to parents and educators all over the world. And has featured in countless magazines, newspapers and radio shows as well as presenting a full length DVD Documentary. Rebecca has also worked along side many incredible organisations, including consulting to Special Olympics Australia. In 2020 Rebecca was delighted to be announced as an AusMumpreneur Gold Award Winner.

Rebecca has presented at many conferences and events including: The Victorian and Queensland ADHD Conference, the National Education Summit, The Global Potty Talk Summit, Mummycon and countless other Seminars and Conferences both nationally and internationally. Rebecca also trains teachers and professionals in schools and organisations and is currently reaching the end of her biggest National tour yet with Christina Keeble on ADHD and Demand Avoidance, visiting 18 locations across the country talking to thousands of people about ADHD.

Over the years Rebecca has done a vast amount of work with neurodivergent children and their families and carers. Working with people around the globe to help improve the lives and futures of neurodivergent individuals. Rebecca has numerous qualifications including Sociology and Psychology. As well as a Law degree with Honours. Rebecca has also attended many courses and trainings on neurodivergent conditions as well as other emotional and psychological challenges and conditions.