Victorian Transcultural Mental Health November Seminar


Jen Tobin & Carolina Valencia Coleman, cohealth


The resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement has drawn mainstream attention to systemic racism and injustice in colonised countries across the world.  It incited a global call to action, where individuals, organisations and institutions engaged in deeper introspection of whiteness and pledged actions to address racial equity.

In Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and people of colour have long been advocating for change. Racism is a major public health issue – the harmful effects on mental and physical health is well documented. Despite this, mainstream community services often perpetuate racial inequity through racist and prejudicial processes, policies and practices.

This seminar explores one organisations response to the Black Lives Matter movement, and the process of examining organisational whiteness. It details the importance of positionality, co-creating authentic listening spaces that strengthen trust, and the power of language. How do we avoid tokenism and authentically decolonise our systems and practices to contribute to a more just and equitable society?

About the speakers

Jen Tobin is the Diversity and Inclusion Manager at cohealth, a large community health service in the north and west suburbs of Melbourne. Jen has over 13 years’ experience in social services including in community mental health, NDIS and Board Director roles. Supported by an education background including a Master of Counselling, Jen has a strong professional and personal passion for human rights, and social and health equity.

Carolina Valencia Coleman is the Diversity Projects Coordinator at cohealth. Over the past 17 years, she has specialised in inclusive practice, working with a social justice lens to increase accessibility and service equity in migrant and refugee health, youth sector, community health, aged care services and language services. Carolina is dedicated to decolonising and standing in solidarity with the voices and perspectives of First Nations and people of colour.

We acknowledge the Wurundjeri people and other peoples of the Kulin nation as the traditional owners of the land on which our work in the community takes place. We pay our respects to their Elders past and present.

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