Frequently Asked Questions

What is the headspace Family and Friends National Reference Group?

The headspace Family and Friends National Reference Group is made up of a diverse group of people with lived experience of supporting a young person experiencing mental health challenges. Group members provide consultation and advocacy across headspace National for the role, contribution and needs of families and friends in headspace programs and services. The reference group’s important contribution enables families and friends across Australia to support young people to live rich, full and meaningful lives.

The reference group consists of:

  • Members with experience supporting a family member or friend who has accessed headspace services
  • Representatives from a variety of different states and territories, and a mix of metropolitan, regional and rural areas.
  • A mix of ages, genders and support roles.
  • Representatives from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and friends.
  • Representatives from refugee and migrant backgrounds.
  • A diversity of family types.



What does being in the Family and Friends National Reference Group involve?

Members of the Family and Friends National Reference Group have the opportunity to be involved in a number of ways including:

  1. Advising on local and national projects
  2. Marketing, promotion and community awareness
  3. Resource development
  4. Education and training for staff and young people
  5. Evaluation, research and policy advocacy
  6. Media spokespeople for headspace National and local centres

It is hoped that the variety of participation activities will appeal to a broad range of interests and that members can draw on their strengths, abilities and capabilities.


What’s the time commitment?
Family and Friends National Reference Group members are appointed for a term of two years. Members are paid to attend a monthly teleconference with the headspace National Family and Friends Inclusive Practice team, and there will be one or two face-to-face meetings in Melbourne per year, depending on COVID-19 restrictions. There is an expectation that you participate in group discussions at these meetings.

In between the face-to-face events, members will be sent expressions of interest for various participation opportunities. These can vary between one-off events of a few hours to ongoing regular participation over a period of time. We understand Reference Group members have other commitments such as work, education or their caring roles so provide flexibility in how many opportunities you participate in. There is an expectation you keep in contact and participate fairly regularly. 

Please note: All members must have easy and regular access to the internet and phone to engage in teleconference meetings.


Can you tell me more about the activities that I can be involved in?

There are a number of activities that Family and Friends National Reference Group members have the opportunity to be involved in. You do not need to have previous experience in order to participate in any of these, and you are not expected to participate in all types of activities. Activities include:


Local and National Projects

With support from headspace National and local centres, members of the Reference Group may have the opportunity to lead or contribute to specific projects. We encourage members to develop their own projects where they see a need. Interested members will be required to submit a project proposal; feasibility will be assessed by a panel of headspace National employees.


Involvement in focus groups and consultations

From time to time focus groups are held around specific topics to help headspace decide on direction of its activities and resources to be developed. The purpose is to ensure that the interests and opinions of family and friends are represented in all aspects of headspace activities.

These discussions may take place at face to face meetings or may occur between meetings via online forums or over the phone.

Evaluation, research and policy advocacy

Members may have the opportunity to work on projects undertaken by the headspace National Strategy, Impact and Policy team. The team is responsible for guiding the organisation’s strategic direction; informing the national policy reform agenda; and monitoring and evaluating headspace services to support continuous quality improvement, guide service innovation and inform future directions in youth mental health.

A subcommittee or working group may be established to work in these areas. Members will be notified and asked for expressions of interest.

Media spokespeople and community engagement

Family and Friends National Reference Group members are supported to become active community advocates for youth mental health and for the involvement of family and friends. The goal is to raise awareness of youth mental health, encourage young people to seek help early and to educate the broader community in youth mental health. Members may be involved in community education activities, or as media spokespeople on the issue of youth mental health. Media spokespeople may be requested to speak at public functions or at local schools, mental health forums and conferences. Participation in media opportunities is optional for group members, and training and support is available for those who wish to participate.


What costs are involved?

headspace National will cover the following costs:

  • Hourly rate of pay for tasks as a Reference Group member, including attendance at meetings and events; a minimum of 3 hours’ pay, per engagement is provided
  • Travel costs to attend face to face events; including flights, taxi fares if required
  • Accommodation (determined and arranged by headspace) while attending face to face events.


If you have any further questions, please contact Deb Mountjoy, National Family and Friends Clinical Advisor, Clinical Practice at or on 0425 783 424.