our people

by, for & with people with lived experience of mental health issues

Our Staff

Ellie combines her professional, personal and socio-political worlds, centering lived experience and a commitment to action. This is underpinned by a focus on innovation, social justice and leading together. Because it matters.   

Ellie has worked in the community and mental health sectors for over twenty years as a community development lead, therapeutic practitioner, manager, educator, strategy/policy worker, advisor and consultant. Systems tend to use words like ‘marginalised’, ‘vulnerable’, ‘at-risk’ or ‘the pointy end of the spectrum’ to describe who she has worked with and where. Ellie has a different understanding, she is awed by the generosity and strength of spirit within the people she has walked beside as they reclaim their lives from disruption, hardship, injustice and system failings. It is her story too.    

Ellie Hodges, Executive Director and Founder (1.0FTE) | ehodges@lelan.org.au

Tanya is a lived experience activist living and working on Kaurna land. She is the Project Worker for our Learning from Lived Experience Suicide Prevention project and has had suicide touch her life in many ways.

Passionate about trauma informed care and heart to heart connection, Tanya champions the survivor movement, mad studies and peer approaches such as eCPR. Over the last 5 years, Tanya has been involved in state and national advocacy and has completed her Cert IV in Mental Health Peer Work.

In a past life, Tanya was a Medical Scientist, but she believes that her deepest wisdom comes from her lived experience expertise.

Read our intro to Tanya blog here.

Tanya Blazewicz, Peer Project Worker (0.6FTE) | tanya@lelan.org.au

Read our intro to Bernie blog here.

Bernie (Bernadette) Barrett, Administrative Support & Community Nurturer (0.6FTE) | bernie@lelan.org.au

Sam is a rising lived experience researcher and advocate, working across multiple projects in academia, not-for-profits and government. She embodies authenticity, humour and crazy ideas in her research and prides herself on creating environments where people are connecting through their experiences, feel empowered to take action and contribute to change, and are just having a good time!

Sam’s passion for advocacy stems from her experiences of navigating and witnessing mental health experiences in Asian culture. While her perspectives often conflict with her culture, she views mental health experiences as the greatest strength one could have and is committed to challenging and shifting perspectives to focus on the courage, resilience and wisdom that comes with such an experience.

Read our intro to Sam blog here.

Sam Lai, Peer Project Worker (0.2FTE) | sam@lelan.org.au

Read our intro to Ari blog here.

Ari Reid, LEDGE (Lived Experience Development, Governance & Education) Project Worker (0.6FTE) | ari@lelan.org.au

Read our intro to Chris blog here.

Chris Small, Project Worker (0.5FTE) | chris@lelan.org.au



The Activating Lived Experience Leadership (ALEL) Project is a partnership between LELAN and UniSA’s Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Research Group. LELAN’s Executive Director, Ellie Hodges, is the Project Lead. Other members of the Project Team are:

     Mark Loughhead, UniSA Senior Research Fellow (Research Lead)

     Heather McIntyre, UniSA Research Assistant

     Professor Nicholas Procter (UniSA Lead)


Our Board

Danielle has worked for over twenty years in the health and community services sectors. Working across a range of portfolios including public health, homelessness, social housing and domestic violence, Danielle has led front line services, as well as community development and strategic policy initiatives.

Most recently Danielle has been working in the not-for-profit community mental health sector, delivering psychosocial support services across South Australia. In this role, Danielle is excited to be working in partnership with the lived experience community to co-design the design and delivery of services.

Danielle is a passionate advocate for human rights and social justice in both her personal and professional life.

Danielle Bament


Rebecca Langman is a young person with a lived experience of mental health challenges proudly living on Kaurna Land. She is the Coordinator Consumer Engagement & Lived Experience for the Central Adelaide Local Health Network’s Mental Health Clinical Program where she is the Professional Lead for Peer Specialists and Carer Consultants.

She was a member of the Youth Advisory Council at Orygen, The National Centre for Excellence in Youth Mental Health from 2017-18 and represented South Australia at the Youth Health Forum in Canberra facilitated by the Health Consumers Forum.  Rebecca has worked as a Peer Specialist in hospital and community environments.

Rebecca has a Bachelor of Media Arts majoring in Performing Arts & Film/TV Production and a Bachelor of Psychological Science from the University of South Australia. Her special interests include early intervention, peer support, experiences of trauma, outdoor/adventure therapy and access to emergency care.

A firm believer in “nothing about us without us” Rebecca is excited to join the LELAN community on this journey of change with the ultimate aim of a world where mental health care is recovery-focused, strengths-based and trauma informed.

Rebecca Langman

(Interim) LELAN Secretary

Janet’s reason for being on the board of LELAN is to increase the number of people who have positive and beneficial treatment within the mental health system. She believes people with lived experience have invaluable insight and extremely worthy opinions and combined with action we can create change for the better throughout all environments within society.

On a personal note, Janet loves helping other beings when my cup is full and I live an active and varied, vital lifestyle.

Janet Lyon

LELAN Board Member

Amie has over 9 years experiencing working in Health, Disability, Child Protection, Mental Health and Immigration services across South Australia. She currently holds the position of Specialist Service Manager within a South Australia Not For Profit organization.

Over the last four years Amie has been actively involved in leadership and advocacy within the Health and Mental Health Directorate. She has sat on numerous committees and boards to assist with; systemic change, strategy development and implementation, practice and safeguarding and strategic management.  In addition, Amie also impacts the South Australia Mental Health Professional Sector by providing professionals with access to regular developmental sessions on; current research, best practice and facilitates topical discussions to improve the South Australian service delivery.

Amie has qualifications in education, counselling, disability, domestic violence, training and assessment and in currently completing a master’s in disability studies, specialising in sensory impairment.

Her passion lies within developing and amplifying the voice of communities to create positive impact and change.

Amie Verrall

(Interim) LELAN Deputy Chair

Suzanne has a strong interest in social enterprise. She has worked with the Don Dunstan Foundation and been involved with smaller community groups.

Professionally Suzanne is an experienced accounting and business advisor who has worked in a range of boutique and mid-tier accounting firms for over 10 years. She is CPA qualified, holder of a Public Practice Certificate, is a registered tax agent, has completed her Bachelor of Accounting and Masters of Tax and holds a JP qualification. Suzanne brings expert knowledge in the areas of Australian tax, International tax matters, company valuations, ATO reviews and not-for-profit audit.

Suzanne Haynes

LELAN Treasurer

Jane is a passionate Carer and Consumer that wishes to see positive change within the Mental Health system and assist Carers in achieving their goals. 

Jane is an active lived experience representative and volunteer. She is currently involved with: the NDIS Psycho Social Transition Task Form; CAHLN’s Community Mental Health Redesign Committee; the Community Visitors Scheme; Carer’s SA; and other groups.

As a former Registered Nurse Jane worked in Palliative and Gerontic care and with the Royal District Nursing Service (RDNS). Previously, she has been involved with the Charles Sturt Lions Club for 3 years, holding the position of Recruitment Chairperson on the Board for 2 terms.

In her spare time Jane enjoys swimming, meditating and being a member of her local Book Club. She also enjoys participating in community programs that are designed to help others form connections within the community.

Jane Meegan

LELAN Board Member

Catherine has a keen interest in the neurobiology of trauma, she is passionate about applying this knowledge to help achieve practical outcomes for real people. As a woman living with disability, Catherine also feels strongly about lived experience and a peer workforce in the design and implementation of care systems. 

In partnership with her husband, Catherine is a mum, foster-mum and an other-person guardian. 

Catherine currently works as an Advocate for children and young people in alternative care for the Guardian for Children and Young People. Catherine’s academic background is in Psychology, Human Rights and Law. Over her career, she has assumed government and non-government management and leadership roles in the child protection, health, disability and homelessness fields. 

Catherine Whitington

LELAN Board Member