2023 Speakers and Contributors

Positive Choices

Positive Choices is an online portal to help school communities access evidence based, accurate, up-to-date drug education resources and prevention programs. Research suggests the teenage years are when alcohol and other drug use are first initiated. This highlights the importance of intervening early with young people to prevent drug use uptake and associated harms. The Positive Choices portal offers a range of drug and alcohol education resources for use by school communities. Resources include evidence-based prevention programs, factsheets, activities, videos, games, and apps.

Positive Choices has been informed by input from teachers, students and parents around Australia, and provides specific information relevant to these groups, such as information on how to talk to young people about drugs and alcohol, and the most effective ways to prevent drug-related harms.

MadProppaDeadly – https://mpd.org.au/

StandBy Support After Suicide – https://standbysupport.com.au/

The StandBy program is focused on supporting anyone who has been bereaved or impacted by suicide at any stage in their life, including:

  • Individuals, families and friends
  • Witnesses
  • First Responders
  • Service Providers

StandBy is accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week, providing free face-to face and/or telephone support at a time and place that is best for each individual.

The program offers coordinated evidence-based support and resources (including connections to local services and groups) that is individualised for each person’s unique circumstance. This support is continued for up to two years to ensure those that engage with StandBy are not alone and receive ongoing support.

StandBy is guided by local advisory groups – which includes community stakeholders as well as those with lived experience. StandBy National is informed by our National Lived Experience Advisory Group.

StandBy builds community preparedness and resilience through extensive training to community and professional groups to ensure effectiveness and that duplicated effort is avoided. The program is also ideally placed to offer a settings-based approach, providing group support after a suicide for schools, workplaces and community groups.

Family Planning NSW

Family Planning Australia is a leading provider of reproductive and sexual health education for youth workers and people working with young people.

We offer courses for clinicians, disability workers, youth workers, school teachers, other health workers and other service providers.

Our courses provide up-to-date, practical information to help you in your role. The courses and workshops are delivered by Family Planning Australia expert educators and specialist guest presenters.

Our courses are offered at a variety of convenient locations across NSW or can be offered onsite at your organisation – view our customised training page.

Speaker – Damian Hannan

Personal philosophy

The historical lived experience of people that are vulnerable, disenfranchised or stigmatised directly impacts their experience of and in a society. Devoid of this knowledge consumers, employers and all people who populate our diverse community are far less able to provide a safe, supportive and collaborative environment that necessitates addressing the needs of an individual. However, when we become informed by the knowledge of a person’s historical experiences, organisations and individuals alike can begin to work towards creating an environment that celebrates a person, a culture and a societies uniqueness. Providing not only a voice but a visibility that they may rarely, if ever have previously experience.


Damian worked nationally and internationally between 1988 to 2008 as a professional dancer, living and working in numerous cities in Europe, Asia and the US. Returning to Australia in 2008, Damian began working at ACON. ACON is New South Wales’ leading health promotion organisation specialising in HIV and LGBTI health. He has worked across several ACON projects including managing complex clients, as part of the Housing project and managing the Community Support Network providing advocacy for HIV positive clients experiencing comorbidity health issues. As Training Coordinator for ACON he has presented at National conferences and collaborated on policy and frameworks that cater to people and communities from diverse backgrounds.

Damian is an experienced trainer with an avid interest in the lived experience of minority populations and raising their visibility as an ally and advocate.

Damian specialises in Youth and LGBTI+ Inclusion in the Aged Care, Mental Health and Disability Sectors. He focuses on the education and implementation of trauma informed care models of practise through which people can develop a deeper awareness of social constructs that lead to the poorer physical and mental heath outcomes and vulnerabilities to physical, verbal and sexual abuse and historical and intergenerational trauma.

He has collaborated and co-authored the national LGBTI Aged Care Inclusivity Training and the LGBTI Inclusivity Training for the Disability Sector and authored the LGBTI Inclusion training package for ACON Training and Consulting division. His knowledge and working experience spans numerous sectors of community health including: HIV, Youth, Schools, Disability, Mental Heath, Housing, Sexuality, Gender Diversity, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, Trauma Informed Care and Inclusive practises policy.

He was lead trainer of Family Planning NSW’s Sexual Safety Policy for Consumers of Mental Health in NSW which he delivered state-wide between 2015 and 2019. He continues to facilitate and develop training programs which emphasises Sexual and Reproductive health for youth, teachers and youth workers to support their understanding of trauma informed care practises and the celebration of diversity across our communities and society.

External to his work as a trainer in adult education, Damian created a company, which led to the subsequent opening of businesses in Sydney; a studio for adult ballet students and elite training for pre-professional young people. He continues to work across a diversity of communities in harm minimisation and education to enhance health outcomes alongside to all people alongside his private business ownership.

Good Grief – Michelle Willot and Godelieve Hofman-Verkuyl

Speaker Bios

Michelle has over 40 years industry experience – that makes her old 😊

It also means that she has a lifetime of working with people from many varied backgrounds who have all been impacted by change, grief and loss at different stages of their lives. Michelle has a strong trust in the benefit of small groups of people with a common experience, coming together to share experience, skills and resources. She is enjoying working for Good Grief and supporting people impacted by Natural Disaster to continue to recover and heal together.   

Godelieve changed her career a couple of times before she followed her passion to support people going through big changes in their lives. She has worked in the areas of youth support and family support, and has a special passion for groupwork focusing at enhancing the social-emotional wellbeing . She currently leads the Disaster Response projects at Good Grief, which aligns with her passions to support people through the social and emotional impacts of Natural Disasters and  raise awareness on the impact of Climate Change.

“Our Aboriginal way has taught us to be still and wait. We do not try to hurry things up. We let them follow their natural course – like the seasons.”

                                      Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann

“… the rhythm of the seasons outside in nature is also active within our own hearts…… the deeper rhythms of human belonging, vulnerability, growth and diminishment.”

                                     John O’Donohue

Presentation: Seasons for Growth – Change, Loss and Grief

We will introduce you to the Seasons for Growth programs, a small group, psycho educational program that strengthens the social and emotional wellbeing of children and young people who have experienced a significant change or loss in their lives. This session will provide you with an inside out experience as we will be sharing the concepts and theory underpinning the programs, engage in some of the program activities, and explore further how you can train in it these programs so you can bring it to your communities.


Change and loss are an integral part of life, yet their influence is not generally well understood.

Join us in an experiential workshop as we journey through the Seasons and discover how they support us to understand the rhythm of change, loss and grief. We will be using some of the activities that are incorporated in the Seasons for Growth programs to give you a taste of the program, as well as take away activities that you might include in your own workplace.