GET REAL: Podcast

Get Real - Talking mental health and disability

Talking mental health and disability

What’s it like to live with a mental health condition, or a disability, or both? How can we make life better for people who face these complex challenges in their lives? GET REAL presents frank and fearless conversations about mental health and disability, including people with lived experience, frontline workers in the industry, as well as policy-makers and advocates.

Episode 10
Celebrating PARCs (Part 2)

In Part 2 of Celebrating PARCs, we take a deep-dive into the experiences of the people who work and stay at PARCs. You’ll hear from Sean Kearns, Day Program Co-ordinator at Barwon Health Mental Health, who has been working at Barwon PARC for 17 years; Sharon, who recently experienced a stay at Barwon PARC; and many of the fabulous ermha365 staff who make PARCs happen.

This two-part episode of GET REAL celebrates PARCS, and the amazing role they play in the mental health recovery journey for many people. If you missed Part 1, catch up here.

For more information, and a video that shows more about the wonderful synergy and partnerships created between clinical mental health, ermha365 staff and mental health consumers at ermha365 PARCs, go to

Episode 9
Careers in Mental Health & Disability

ermha365 is a pretty special place to work for people who want to make a difference and who care about supporting vulnerable people. This week, GET REAL explores career opportunities in mental health and disability with some of ermha365’s passionate and talented staff, including Sarah Waite (our Talent Acquisition Advisor and the “voice of ermha365″ to people who join our team), as well as Sharon Sherwood, Nicole Timmins and Samuel Van De Kerkhof, who are all at different stages in their career with ermha365 and who have a great story to tell about why they choose to work in this sector and with ermha365.

Although this podcast is aimed at an external recruitment audience, it’s a great opportunity to hear more about the back story of some of your colleagues . Hope you enjoy this episode!

Episode 8
Celebrating PARCs (Part 1)

At ermha365, we reckon PARCs are pretty special places. But if you haven’t heard of them before, what is a PARC?

PARC stands for “Prevention And Recovery Care” services.  PARCs are short-term, residential mental health treatment services located in the community. 

ermha365 has been managing PARCs for almost 15 years. As a psychosocial support services provider, we work hand-in-hand with our clinical mental health partners to make sure our PARCs address local needs and challenges. We set up the first women-only PARC in Victoria, and provide over 18,000 hours of programmed PARC activities each year, along with specific, targeted one-on-one mental health recovery support.

This two-part episode of GET REAL celebrates PARCs, and the amazing role they play in the mental health recovery journey for so many people.

Our special guest is Karen Dixon from Monash University, who helped set up Springvale PARC as the first women-only PARC in Victoria.

Episode 7
Mental health, disability, and the criminal justice system

This week, GET REAL explores the criminal justice system through the lens of complex mental health and disability. People with complex mental health conditions, along with a range of physical, sensory, and cognitive disabilities, face additional challenges and hardships within the criminal justice system; a system that is difficult for any of us to negotiate.

So, when the Royal Commission on Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Discrimination against People with Disabilities released a Paper on Criminal Justice issues, the team at ermha365 – which has long been a lifeline for people who are challenged with complex mental health and disability issues – believed it was particularly important to respond.

GET REAL explores these issues, as well as ermha365’s six-point plan to address the vulnerabilities and challenges of the people we support.

Guests include Karenza Louis-Smith, CEO ermha365, who has extensive experience in Australia with the criminal justice system and how it affects vulnerable people, and Isabel Calvert, Social Policy, Justice and Advocacy Adviser at ermha365, who has worked internationally over many years in criminal justice reform.

Episode 6
Human Rights and Disability

This week, GET REAL talks about the United Nations Convention of the Rights of People with Disabilities in the NDIS and COVID era.

Despite the robust regulatory framework that protects the human rights of people with disabilities, there are still many challenges to ensuring the fulfilment of everyday rights for people with disabilities. This is particularly true of those with cognitive and mental impairments, and vulnerable groups such as women, remote communities and indigenous peoples. This means that organisations that advocate for and provide services to people with disabilities are instrumental in helping to ensure that they can – and do – exercise their rights.

Guests include Isabel Calvert, ermha365’s Social Policy and Advocacy Advisory (former Social Policy Adviser in the United Nations Disability Program), and Leah Van Poppel, CEO, Women with Disabilities Victoria (the peak body in Victoria for advocacy on disability issues regarding women).

Episode 5
Getting help for your mental health during COVID-19

This week, GET REAL asks a very practical question: where do you go to get help for your mental health, particularly if it is something you’ve struggled with even before COVID-19, or you have an underlying mental health condition, or the advice that’s widely available just doesn’t seem to make a difference for you?

Guests include Karenza Louis-Smith, CEO of ermha365 and Board Member of Mental Health Victoria; Lynne and Cassie, Practice Leaders in ermha365’s Psychosocial Support Program, PSS; and Shandya and Shyleen, a consumer and PSS support worker, talking about how getting support through PSS has helped Shandya to manage her mental health issues and achieve her goals.

The PSS program provides mental health support across a wide catchment area in South Eastern Melbourne that stretches from St Kilda to Sorrento to Bunyip, including the major population hubs of Clayton, Dandenong, Moorabbin, Caulfield, Cranbourne, Frankston and Pakenham. To access the PSS program, contact SEMPHN Access & Referral on 1800 862 363 (8.30am-4.30pm weekdays)  or visit the SEMPHN website and download the referral form –

Episode 4
Telehealth: delivering mental health support in a time of social distancing

Now more than ever, people need support with their mental health. This episode explores how ermha365’s mental health team has pivoted to telehealth services to continue to provide care and support to our clients, while maintaining social distancing to help flatten the curve. 

Guests include Sally Wall, ermha365 Manager of Mental Health Services, plus Cass, Jess, Marnie and Clare who provide mental health support services in South Eastern Melbourne and Geelong/Barwon.

For support with your mental health:

In South Eastern Melbourne, contact SEMPHN Access & Referral on 1800 862 363 (8.30am-4.30pm weekdays)  or visit the SEMPHN website and download the referral form –

In Geelong/Barwon, contact the Access Team at Barwon Health Mental Health Drug and Alcohol Services (MHDAS) on 03 4215 0000 for an assessment. A Mental Health Community Clinician (case manager) then makes the referral to ermha365.

Episode 3
VROOM VROOM: Virtual Reality training for the psychosocial disability workforce

How do we equip our workforce to support people who are living with psychosocial disabilities?

This week, GET REAL explores an innovative virtual reality training project designed to offer immersive experiences to enable disability support workers to quickly gain competency in this work.

Guests include Thomas MacNamara, Founder and Chief Technical Officer, Lightweave, and Ellen Maple, Project Manager – Learning Design and Development, ermha365.

Episode 2
The disability sector response to COVID-19

People with disabilities are highly vulnerable in the COVID-19 pandemic. Is our government doing enough to help them? What more do people with disabilities – and the organisations that support them – need to get them through this crisis safely?

GET REAL talks to the CEOs of three disability support organisations that have banded together with more than 30 others to lobby the government for the help that the sector desperately needs. Together, this non-affiliated coalition, as part of the NDIS, supports more than 300,000 people with disabilities across Australia, employing thousands of Australians.

Guests include Kate MacRae (CEO Able Australia), Stephanie Gunn (CEO Gateways Support Services) and Karenza Louis-Smith (CEO ermha365).

Episode 1
Who cares? Caring for carers

People who care for a friend of family member are the unsung heroes of our community. Carers provide a service that would otherwise fall on the health system, providing a $15bn contribution to the Victorian economy alone. Yet they often face enormous challenges. In this episode, we talk to three people with lived experience about what it’s really like to support someone with a complex mental health issue or a disability, and how we can better care for carers.