Learn more our Mental Illness Mental Fellowship of WA Lived Experience Impact Inspiration Award Finalists

This award  is presented by Mental Illness Fellowship of WA recognises an outstanding contribution to mental health in Western Australia by an individual who identifies as having a lived experience (consumer, carer or family member)

These are in no particular order

Katherine Houareau
Katherine has experienced significant traumas in her life commencing from early childhood and enduring 30 plus years of challenges due to being lost in an unforgiving system and society without supports. Through those experiences she channelled her focus to survive and thrive in a creative way which was productive and more meaningful by facilitating and supporting change around individual recovery, community understanding, systemic change and advocacy. Her experience is not only based on her own personal journey of recovery from Mental Health and the experience of Suicide, Family and Domestic Violence and the challenges of LIFE, but also exposed to the experiences of deep rooted shame, guilt and denial as a result of her family that was institutionalised as wards of the state by the “Department of Child Welfare” and the traumas they were exposed to which led to a ripple effect of intergenerational and intra-familiar traumas. Katherine’s story is very real, powerful and insightful someone who has constantly “worked” on themselves to survive experiences of childhood abuse, anxiety, homelessness, domestic violence, sexual traumas, depression, alcohol and other drugs, bullying in the workplace, family court, the justice system and more with a massive capacity to forgive and continue to love those who do not have the tools to understand their journey in LIFE.

Julian Pace
Julian left school in year 8, after being bullied and teased. He could not read or write properly and suffered severe dyslexia also. He has now succeeded in teaching himself to read and write. In 2008, on Julian’s 21st birthday, Julian’s dad committed suicide. Within the next 2 years following, his cousin died suddenly, and his best friend committed suicide (within a week of each other).
After these tragedies, Julian’s mental health plummeted. His dad had been a role model to him and also, he was his best friend. His life completely changed when his dad committed suicide. But, after the third death in two years, Julian became someone who hated himself. He went down the wrong path. He could not recognise himself in the mirror and had a real victim mentality. He himself attempted multiple times to commit suicide. After a few years, Julian decided to change his life, when he realised the amount of pain he was causing his mum, family and friends. He realised that happiness was a journey, not a destination, so was always needing to work on it. He learnt to change his ‘Blueprint’, and wanted to help others too also. He wanted to prevent families from going through the pain that his did. It was whilst working with various foundations on awareness, that Julian came to realise that awareness alone wouldn’t be enough to genuinely change behaviour Australia-wide. From here, he committed to creating his company- Happiness Co- with so much passion and a deep desire to create true widespread change around the world. Julian built Happiness Co on a solution based model, to impact and inspire people to change their lives. 

Ingrid Bentsen
Ingrid Bentsen has long been recognised by many as a pioneer in mental health consumer advocacy But she is more than a passionate systemic advocate For almost 30 years she has been an inspiration for many showing by example that though the road to recovery may sometimes have twists and turns recovery it is possible. She inspires people to use their lived experience to be champions for positive change for everyone who’s lives have been touched by mental illness.
Ingrid believes that stigma can and does prevent people reaching out for support when needed, and with this in mind she worked hard towards reducing stigma by reporting incidences in the media etc to SANE stigma watch and educating the general public by presenting to community groups, university students studying OT, Nursing, etc. she has also organised several projects for mental health week including information stalls in shopping centres libraries etc She encourage Even Keel to have a stall at Music to Open Your Mind . When Tending a stall she has openly discusses her own recovery journey, while providing the public with pamphlets on relevant services etc She has presented at several conferences on the value of the consumer and carer voice in service provision.

Virginia Catterall
Virginia Catterall is a quietly-spoken, committed, gracious and generous woman and cat-devotee.  Born in NZ, Virginia came to Australia in 1981 and has lived in Perth since 2004.    Since coming to Perth, Virginia has taken on a number of roles as part of her recovery and has been a service user, a peer supporter, a peer support worker, a volunteer project manager, a Board member and a volunteer systemic advocate. Virginia also represents a consumer perspective on a number of different committees in the mental health, alcohol and other drug and criminal justice system.
Virginia generously donates her time in a number of areas in order to raise awareness of mental ill health and alcohol and other drug (AOD) use and criminal justice experience and the possibility of recovery for someone with any or all of these experiences. Virginia also achieves this awareness-raising and lived experience expertise-sharing through her participation in a number of forums and through her work on a range of committees. Volunteer Steering Group member of Mental Health Matters 2, a community advocacy group.