our people

by, for & with people with lived experience of mental distress, social issues or injustice

Our Staff

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

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.

In 2017 Ellie founded LELAN, the Lived Experience Leadership & Advocacy Network, a now funded organisation that she leads as Executive Director. LELAN draws on the collective experiences, insights and leadership of people with lived experience to drive desperately needed change in the mental health and social sector’s.

Previously Ellie was a Lived Experience Advisor with the SA Mental Health Commission and had her own Private Practice as a Therapist / Consultant for many years which she closed to focus on establishing LELAN as the peak body for lived experience in South Australia. has completed the Company Directors Course and is currently Consumer Co-chair of the Independent Advisory Board for the ALIVE National Centre for Mental Health TRanslation.

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

Sheryl is a lived experience leader and advocate passionate about creating opportunities by, for and with people to have power and influence who otherwise would not.

Sheryl has been in consultant and management roles for ten years working in Aboriginal, education, health, housing and homelessness and community service sectors. She realises how privileged she is to be in a position where she can act as a conduit between government, services and people with lived experience of distress, social issues and injustice, to ensure that those who are accessing support are genuinely involved in how these supports are designed and delivered. Having been in positions where she felt disempowered and disregarded, she knows first-hand the overwhelming benefits of doing with and not to, so that real and sustainable transformation can be achieved.

Sheryl has a genuine energy, commitment and passion for elevating lived experience voices and is a staunch advocate for human rights and social justice. She is an eternal optimist and strongly believes in the goodness and value people have to offer.

Read our intro to Sheryl blog here.

Sheryl Boniface, Manager: Projects & Advocacy (1.0FTE) | sheryl@lelan.org.au

Read our intro to Ari blog here.

Ari Reid, LEDGE (Lived Experience Development, Governance & Education) Project Worker (0.8FTE) | ari@lelan.org.au

Lucy fully believes that mental health has to be supported on systematic and communal levels, and they have a passion for challenging dominant systems. 

At 23 years of age Lucy has worked and volunteered in the LGBTQIA+ community for the past 5 years, facilitating, supporting and coordinating a range of community groups, providing peer support, along with representing and advocating for the mental health of LGBTQIA+ people in front of state and national representatives . She has an academic background, is currently working on her honours thesis and publications, and has contributed towards two psychology textbooks (Psychology, 6th Ed and Lifespan Development, 5th Edition). 

Lucy’s work builds off of health promotion and sociology, with a desire to create systematic support for community members to have (true) empowerment and autonomy within healthcare.

Peer Project Worker (0.8FTE) | lucy@lelan.org.au

CURRENTLY RECRUITING | Position Description available here.

Administrative Support (0.8FTE) Permanent Part-Time

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, currently taking on the role of new parenthood



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

LELAN Deputy Chair

Following ten years of service as a Police Officer for South Australia Police, and his career ending as a result of Post-Traumatic Stress and Depression, Matt now focuses his time supporting those in the community navigating their own mental health challenges, particularly military and emergency services personnel.

Matt works as a Lived Experience Stakeholder Engagement Manager for Military and Emergency Services Health Australia, he is an RUOK? Community Ambassador and a peer work consultant for a national men’s mental health support initiative, The Male Hug.

Matt is a counsellor and listener and spends any spare time with his supportive wife and daughter near the beach.

Matt Newlands

LELAN Board Member

Sarah is 24 and lives in her home town on the the Eyre Peninsula in rural South Australia. She has recently moved home from the United Kingdom.  

Since being back in Australia Sarah has spent the last year working on Fay Fuller Foundation projects, “Future Proofing Mentally Fit EP” and a mental health initiative called “Our Town” driven by community for community in which they secured 10 years of funding for our community. 

Sarah has been actively working with Mentally Fit EP and the Empowering Lower Eyre Suicide Prevention Network.

Sarah’s work has been recognised throughout her region and as a result she is honoured to have received Young Citizen of the Year for 2021.  

Sarah will continue to use her voice and encourage others to use their voice to influence change so everyone feels safe, worthy and like they belong in their communities.

Sarah Dickinson

LELAN Board Member

Em has been working in the youth sector for the last 15 years designing and facilitating empowerment, leadership and therapeutic programs. Complimented by her outdoor education background Em enjoys encouraging participants to recognise their inner strength, try new things, connect to nature and gain skills in mindfulness.

Drawing on her own lived experience and those of the young people she works with Em has contributed to a number of co-design initiatives, government and non-government consultations and has previously held a number of board positions.

Em passionately believes in hearing, sharing, supporting and advocating for people with a lived experience and those affected, caring for and working with to create change and a better understanding. Em continues to elevate the voice of younger generations, vulnerable children and young people within the child protection and youth justice systems to organisations and the government sector.

Em Rozee

LELAN Board Member

Amie V

LELAN Treasurer

Kim is an advocate and an active member within the lived experience community. She volunteers on many Boards and governance groups within NGOs, at State and Federal Levels.  

Kim is driven by her past experiences of stigma and discrimination so she can educate others and challenge the way society views mental health and addiction. Kim is passionate about social justice issues and defending basic human rights, as well as LGBTIQ+ and Aboriginal Rights.  

Kim has studied and worked as a Peer Worker in Alcohol and Other Drugs , and is currently working at Aspire Recovery Connection as a Peer Mentor for individuals who are receiving NDIS supports. 

Kim has studied Visual Arts and Graphic Design, which she has drawn upon and still uses as part of her own journey of recovery. 

Kim also brings with her qualifications and experience in Child Care, Work Health and Safety, Quality Management Systems and Auditing.

Kim Newrick

LELAN Board Member

Natalie is a postdoctoral research fellow for the Critical and Ethical Mental Health group at the University of Adelaide. She has qualifications in Health Sciences and Public Health, and completed a PhD in Obstetrics & Gynaecology in 2018.

Over the past 6 years, Natalie’s research experience has developed her interest in the critical evaluation of psychiatry (including psychiatric labelling, over-diagnosis and the overuse of psychotropic medications) and healthcare models that address the social determinants of mental health.

Natalie is keen to advocate for empowering people with mental illness, and incorporating lived experience into clinical and government-led decision making.

Natalie Aboustate

LELAN Board Member

Brooke is a lived experiences leader who is passionate about making lasting systems change. Brooke has been  actively involved in various lived experience representative roles including peer work across Queensland and South Australia for around 13 years now.

Brooke has experienced first hand being disempowered, having her rights violated and feeling totally marginalised. This is why Brooke is passionate about systems advocacy, working to improve and change the systems that cause this harm and distress daily. Brooke believes that no one persons voice will be able to create the changes that are necessary, and that it is as a collective voice that we will influence the biggest change.

Brooke strongly believes in upskilling and supporting the community to be able to effectively advocate for themselves and ensure that their human rights are not being violated by the systems we interact with.

Brooke Bickley

LELAN Board Member

Claire is a researcher development (PhD to Professor) specialist with an international reputation for the co-design and delivery of partnership-led employability models. At the University of Strathclyde, Claire led a project to create the world’s first parallel academic qualification to accelerate PhD employability, receiving national recognition at the Times Higher Education Awards (2015). As a result of this acknowledgment Claire presented ‘The Strathclyde Way’ to universities globally, including in the UK, Belgium, Cyprus, Ireland, the Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand, many of whom have since adopted or adapted the model locally. 

In 2017 she moved to Australia to take up the inaugural position of Associate Head & Manager Graduate Research at the University of South Australia, with responsibility for the development, planning and implementation of PhD-related initiatives to achieve the University’s strategic research objectives.

With grassroots in communications (BA (Hons) Journalism), Claire has co-authored papers on PhD employability, including an exploration of employer perceptions of doctoral skills and an impact study of industry mentoring in the PhD. Claire is a qualified consultant (Level 5, CMI), project manager (Level D, IPMA), MBA-graduate and in 2020, participated in the South Australia Governor’s Leadership Foundation (GLF) program. 

Claire Jackson

LELAN Board Member