Our senior medical team is made up of our Consultant Neuropsychiatrists and a Consultant Neurologist.
Neuropsychiatry is a sub-specialty of psychiatry focusing on the interrelation of psychiatric disorders and neurology.
Neurology is a branch of medicine dealing with disorders of the nervous system.
Professor Dennis Velakoulis is a consultant neuropsychiatrist and director of the Neuropsychiatry Unit, Royal Melbourne Hospital and with Professor Chris Pantelis set up what is now the Neuroimaging Arm of the Melbourne Neuropsychiatry Centre. Following graduation from the University of Melbourne in Medicine, Dr Velakoulis completed a Diploma of Criminology before successfully completing his Fellowship for the RANZCP and a Masters of Medicine in Psychiatry in neuroimaging. Following this he was appointed an NH&MRC Fellow at the Mental Health Research Institute of Victoria, where he worked in Cognitive Neuropsychiatry and began orld-leading research into the volumetric measurement of the hippocampus and other brain regions in schizophrenia, publishing in journals such as The Lancet and high-impact psychiatric journals including Archives of General Psychiatry. He has published almost 300 Medline-indexed scientific papers. He continues to be involved in research into first-episode and established schizophrenia, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Huntington's disease and early-onset dementia. In 2012 he successfully completed his doctoral DMedSci work examining neuroimaging and neuropathological markers of cortical change in schizophrenia.
Professor Mark Walterfang graduated in medicine from University of Queensland with honours in 1993, and completed his Fellowship of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists in 2000. He then worked as a consultant psychiatrist at the Adult Mental Health Rehabilitation Unit at Sunshine Hospital and as a consultant neuropsychiatrist at the Royal Melbourne Hospital Neuropsychiatry Unit for two years. Dr Walterfang has also been involved in the development in a number of clinical tools for use in psychiatric patients in the areas of cognition and behavioural observation, and their validation in a variety of medical, neurological and psychiatric settings since 2000. In 2010 he completed his PhD in the neuroimaging of white matter in psychiatric disorders. His continuing research involves the neuroimaging and neuropsychiatric investigation of neurometabolic disorders including phenylketonuria and Niemann-Pick disease type C, and in shape analysis of cortical and subcortical regions in neurodegenerative disorders. He has published over 170 Medline-indexed scientific papers, and recently contributed a new chapter on the Neuropsychiatry of Neurometabolic and Neuroendocrine Disorders to the world's most respected reference text in psychiatry, Kaplan and Sadock's "Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry".
Associate Professor Samantha Loi is a neuropsychiatrist and old age psychiatrist, who graduated in medicine from Monash University in 2002 and obtained her Fellowship of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists in 2011. She also completed Advanced Training in Psychiatry of Old Age in 2012, and her PhD in 2016. She has clinical expertise in the areas of neuropsychiatric disorders such as Huntington’s disease (HD) and other younger-onset dementias and has previous worked with older adults in metropolitan and regional settings. She is also involved with pro bono work with asylum seekers and refugees and is a firm believer in advocacy and supporting those who are most vulnerable.
Dr Loi’s clinical experience is complemented by her clinical-research. She is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne and leads a longitudinal project following up younger people with neurocognitive disorders, funded by an NHMRC Early Career Fellowship. Her PhD investigated depression in older carers and she continues to explore ways to support carers of people who attend Neuropsychiatry. Dr Loi is also involved with using technology to improve the care of people with dementia and other psychiatric disorders and developed the Symptom Assessment Manager (www.cerescape.com/sam) which monitors neuropsychiatric symptoms in real-time.
When Dr Loi is not at work, she passes her time by baking, playing the piano and trying not checking her emails.
Dr Dhamidhu Eratne graduated in medicine from the University of Auckland in 2007. After extensive experience in consultation-liaison psychiatry and psychiatry of old age, he completed his two years of advanced training at Neuropsychiatry, obtaining his Fellowship of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists in 2016. After working as an old age psychiatrist and senior lecturer, Dhamidhu was proud to join Neuropsychiatry in 2017, working in the younger-onset and neuropsychiatry outpatient and inpatient, and epilepsy services. Dhamidhu’s interests include younger-onset dementia, biomarkers, clinical reasoning, education, and the interface between psychiatry, neurology, and the rest of general medicine. He completed his certificate of advanced training in consultation-liaison psychiatry of advanced training, and is completing the certificate in old age psychiatry. In addition, he is an Honorary Fellow at the Walter and Elizabeth Hall Institute of Medical Research and the University of Melbourne, and is a keen clinician researcher, and enjoys lecturing and supervising students. Dhamidhu is undertaking a PhD and is the clinical/research fellow on the Markers in Neuropsychiatric Disorders Study (The MiND Study), investigating biomarkers and other markers in neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders, with a view to clinical translation to improve outcomes for patients, their families and clinicians, and the healthcare system.
Dr Sarah Farrand is a fellow of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists and has worked at the Neuropsychiatry Unit since 2016. Sarah completed her medical training at the University of Sydney in 2009 before joining the training program at NorthWestern Mental Health in 2011, receiving her fellowship with RANZCP in 2018. Sarah completed her Masters of Psychiatry through The University of Melbourne in 2015. Sarah currently oversees the Deep Brain Stimulation program for Obsessive-compulsive Disorder, which was the first of its kind in Australia set up by Prof Velakoulis and A/Prof Evans in 2010. Sarah has recently been involved in improving telehealth services for those in regional Victoria living with young-onset dementia. Sarah is involved in supervision and training of registrars as well as medical students through the University of Melbourne.
His main clinical interests are general neurology, pharmacological and surgical management of movement disorders, neurobehavioural medicine, neurophysiology and botulinum toxin treatment of dystonia and spasticity. Dr Evans has an active private practice based in central Melbourne.
Andrew Evans is a consultant neurologist and was trained at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in general medicine. He specialised in neurology at the Royal Melbourne and Western Hospitals and the Kingston Centre and then carried out a movement disorders fellowship at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Queen Square, London where he completed a doctoral thesis n dopaminergic function in Parkinson's disease. He is currently Director of Movement Disorders at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in addition to his role at the Neuropsychiatry Unit, and is a Honorary Senior Lecturer with the University of Melbourne.
Dr Tom Reilly is a neuropsychiatry registrar in Neuropsychiatry at RMH. He completed a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery at Deakin in 2015 and a Masters of Psychiatry at the University of Melbourne in 2021. Tom has academic interest in research and teaching, and clinical interests in neuroimaging, psychiatric aetiology, organic psychiatry, and neurodegenerative disorders.
Dr. Hye-Sang Shin is a psychiatry registrar and advanced trainee in Psychiatry of Old Age. She completed her undergraduate Bachelor ofMedicine/Surgery (MBBS Hons) at Monash University in 2015, and Masters of Psychiatry at the University of Melbourne in 2022. She is involved in training and advocacy as a representative for the Western Region Training Committee (WRTC) of the Royal Australia and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists(RANZCP), as well as an active committee member with Psychiatry Interest Forum(PIF), which seeks to promote psychiatry training and engagement with pre-vocational students and junior doctors.
She is currently working in the Young Onset Dementia (YOD)clinic at the Royal Melbourne Hospital with particular interest in diagnosis and management of neurodegenerative disorders and BPSD, as well as social models of health.
Dr David McKernon is a neuropsychiatry registrar and an advanced trainee in Consultation-Liaison psychiatry. He completed a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery and Bachelor of Obstetrics at Queens’s University Belfast in 2012, and a Masters in Psychology & Neuroscience of Mental Health at King’s College London in 2020. His interests include neurodegenerative disorders, organic psychiatry and affective disorders in chronic medical illness. He is currently the neuropsychiatry epilepsy registrar and has a keen interest in the neuropsychiatric complications of epilepsy and other seizure disorders.
Dr Michael Keem is a neuropsychiatry registrar and Psychiatry of Old Age advanced trainee. He completed his Bachelor of Biomedicine in 2011, Doctor of Medicine in 2015, and his Masters of Psychiatry in 2020 at the University of Melbourne. Michael has been actively involved in medical education and teaching since 2010. He is the National Secretary of Medical Association for Prevention of War (MAPW) and Co-Regional Vice-President of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW). His interests include the neurosciences, public mental health, the neurodevelopmental impacts of trauma, the psychotherapies, and psychoneuroimmunology.
Neuropsychology is a branch of psychology that is concerned with how injuries or illnesses of the brain and the rest of the nervous system influence a person's cognition (memory thinking, attention) and behaviours. Clinical neuropsychologists assess and treat people with brain disorders that affect memory, learning, attention, language, reading, problem-solving and decision-making.
Dr Wendy Kelso is a Senior Clinical Neuropsychologist (P4) at Neuropsychiatry, Royal Melbourne Hospital and is the co-ordinator of Neuropsychology services. She was the Clinical Lead on the Better Care Victoria BRIGHT-YOD Innovation Project: ‘Utilising telehealth to bridge the gaps in Young Onset Dementia’ working in collaboration Cognitive Dementia and Memory Services (CDAMS), Dementia Australia and Huntington’s Victoria. Dr Kelso was instrumental in establishing the Melbourne Young Onset Dementia Service (MYOD), a clinic specifically designed to provide assessment and diagnosis, psychological interventions, behavioural advice, practical support and referral for families living with Young Onset Dementia. She is the Fronto-Temporal Dementia Support Group facilitator for Dementia Australia and is an alumni of the Safer Care Victoria Clinical Leadership Mentoring Program. Dr Kelso has developed national educational and training programs for health professionals and consumers and carers in collaboration with Dementia Australia and Huntington’s Victoria. She is involved in translational research in the areas of telehealth and teleneuropsychology, cognition, Young Onset Dementia, Huntington’s disease, Niemann Pick Type C and Phenylketonuria. Dr Kelso has 18 years clinical experience in the fields of neuropsychiatry and dementia and is passionate about improving service provision and access to care for those living with neuropsychiatric conditions.
Joanna completed her Doctorate of Clinical Neuropsychology at La Trobe University. She commenced her career working in rehabilitation and old age psychiatry at the Caulfield General Medical Centre before joining the inpatient team at the Neuropsychiatry Unit, in 2005. In her role she has provided neuropsychological assessments, education and practical recommendations to patients and their families in addition to coordinating the neuropsychology student training program. Since 2018, Joanna has turned her focus to coordinating the NWMH Cognitive Assessment & Advisory Service, a new outpatient neuropsychology assessment clinic for consumers within the adult mental health setting. She provides diagnostic advice, education regarding the impact of mental health on cognition and cognitive remediation strategies for consumers and their support network. She is also involved in education and training for health professionals across NWMH region in addition to continuing to support neuropsychology students in their clinical training.
Joanna is currently a clinician researcher on an international observational project in Huntington's disease (ENROLL-HD). Her previous research experience has included a number of projects investigating the measures used by neuropsychologists in the assessment of decision-making capacity; the influence of orthographic knowledge on phonological awareness tasks; and comparing the cognitive profiles in patients with schizophrenia and fronto-temporal dementia.
Patrick completed his undergraduate and postgraduate studies at the University of Melbourne. There his research investigated the neural correlates of decision-making, as well as the factors that impact outcome after mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) in patients at The Alfred Hospital and Royal Melbourne Hospital. Following his training, Patrick worked as a research assistant in the Subcortical Cognitive Dysfunction Laboratory at the University of Melbourne, investigating mTBI recovery and assisting with the development of a novel mTBI intervention. With regards to clinical experience, Patrick has worked as a neuropsychologist at Barwon Health, primarily specialising in oncology as well as covering inpatient and community rehabilitation. More recently he has worked in the neuropsychology team at Epworth Richmond Acute Hospital, providing neuropsychological advice and intervention across the entire hospital. Since joining Neuropsychiatry in 2020, Patrick has enjoyed working as a clinical neuropsychologist within an expert multi-disciplinary team providing diagnosis, treatment, and support to patients with complex neuropsychiatric disorders.
Social work is a practice-based profession and an academic discipline that promotes social change and development, social cohesion, and the empowerment and liberation of people. Principles of social justice, human rights, collective responsibility and respect for diversities are central to social work.
Megan completed a Bachelor of Social Work studies at Victoria University in 2009, and has worked in a variety of settings, including acute mental health and community mental health (Home Based outreach and Personal Helpers and Mentors Program). With a career in social work spanning over 10 years, her areas of special interest and expertise include, working with people with cognitive difficulties due to longstanding mental health conditions, parents whom have difficulties with child protection matters, and advocacy work for recovery based support services for people with mental health conditions and dementia. She joined Neuropsychiatry in 2021 where she now works as the Social Worker across the inpatient and outpatient clinics. She is passionate about ensuring patients, families, and carers have a voice within the medical system and are well equipped to manage adjustment to illness.
Speech pathology is the diagnosis and treatment of speech, communication, and swallowing disorders. This includes difficulties with speaking, listening, understanding language, reading and writing, social skills, stuttering, voice, and eating and drinking. Speech pathologists work with people who have difficulty eating and drinking, and communicating due to developmental or acquired disorders such as cerebral palsy, learning disability, stroke,brain injury, neurological disorders and dementia.
Camille Paynter is a senior speech pathologist who specialises in working with people with acute and progressive neurological conditions. She has worked in both the private and public health sectors. Prior to joining the Royal Melbourne Hospital, she worked at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, London. Camille has a keen interest in clinical ethics, advance care planning, and clinical education. She has worked as a clinical tutor at City, University of London, and the University of Melbourne. She is currently undertaking a PhD at the University of Melbourne. The research explores healthcare involvement and decision making for people living with motor neurone disease and their carers. The aim is to provide insights into the real-time experience of making and living with decisions as time and the disabilities of MND progress to better support people with MND and their carers.
Occupational therapy is a client-centred health profession that involves assessments to identify strengths and limitations in activities and occupations that people are experiencing due to developmental or acquired disorders. Occupational therapists work with a goal-centred approach and offer practical advice/techniques about how to do activities more easily and safely to help create a meaningful life and to engage with society and culture.
Exercise Physiology utilises a holistic approach to enhancing physical and mental well-being through exercise and activity based interventions. Through evidence-based exercise prescription, Exercise Physiologists aim to facilitate independence in daily activities by improving strength, balance, mobility and overall exercise tolerance. Active collaboration with clients and caregivers is central to promoting adherence and long-term adoption of positive health behaviours.
Natalya is an Exercise Physiologist who is passionate about improving the physical and mental well-being of adults living with mental health disorders. She completed her Honours in 2019 investigating the use of combined music and exercise interventions to treat behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia, and has a strong interest in optimising client engagement through personalised activities and play. Natalya is passionate about suicide intervention and prevention and has undergone further training to become an ASIST-trained caregiver to help reduce suicidal feelings for at-risk individuals. Her previous role was within Royal Melbourne's community therapy service and inpatient rehabilitation where she gained experience working with a range of complex neurological, musculoskeletal and aged presentations. As part of the Neuropsychiatry team, Natalya aims to utilise a holistic approach to encourage positive relationships with physical activity and healthy living choices.
The nursing team consists of experienced nursing staff graduates and students on placement. The role of the nursing team is a flexible and varied one, and includes the following activities: ensuring the day-to-day core business of the unit is achieved, delivery and facilitation of high-quality patient care, and individual support for patients and families. The team engages in and facilitate health promotion activities, patient-focused education, patient advocacy and collaborative patient assessment and treatment.
Kate McHardy is a Registered Psychiatric Nurse with 15 years’ experience in the field. Completing her post graduate studies at the University of Melbourne Kate commenced at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in 2007, initially working within Neurology and Cardiology prior to moving into Psychiatry. Kate has worked in a variety of mental health settings including Acute Inpatient, ECT Coordination, homeless outreach, mental health rehabilitation and community area mental health. Kate returned to Neuropsychiatry and Eating Disorders in 2017 as the Team Leader, moving in to the Program Manager role in 2020. She was the recipient of Nurse of the Year 2020 for leadership within Northwest Mental Health. Kate is a passionate consumer advocate and is driven by service improvement and positive consumer and carer outcomes.
Sarah Downes is an experienced registered nurse, specialised in Advanced Mental Health Nursing care. Within her role as Team Leader on the Neuropsychiatry Unit, Sarah provides contact with consumers, families and significant others prior to their admission and throughout. Contact prior to an admission, gives the consumer an opportunity to convey how the ward environment and therapeutic engagement can be shaped to best support them. With lived experience as a carer of a loved one with a Neurological condition, Sarah’s aim of personalising the care provided to consumers is both of professional, and personal significance.
By gaining insight and utilising a consumer-centred approach, the nursing care team can provide a more personalised and supportive experience for the consumers during their admission.
Melinda Sorraghan is an experienced Clinical Administration Manager, and the first point of contact for Neuropsychiatry at the RMH for health professionals, patients and their families, and other health services, peak bodies and partner organisations. Melinda manages all aspects of patient appointments (inpatient, outpatient clinic & telehealth) including all email and phone communication to the Service as well as organisation of an interpreter service where required. She provides secretarial support for our Clinical Review Meetings, and is instrumental across the work of our entire multidisciplinary team, from the Director of the service, the senior consultants, allied health staff, nursing staff, and registrars and medical students.
Stef has over 20 years’ experience in project management, communications and marketing in the Australian health care industry, complimenting her studies in Psychology (Honours) and an MBA specialising in Health Care Management. She has a special interest in Younger Onset Dementia and improving access to diagnostic services and clinical research. More recently her roles have included, Primary Care Engagement Manager at Dementia Australia, and Project Manager on the Bridging Gaps in Younger Onset Dementia using Telehealth (BRIGHT-YOD) Project. She is currently the Communications RA on the MiND Study, and the Service Innovation and Engagement Manager in Neuropsychiatry. Her mission is to put Neuropsychiatry on the map, and to make the specialist service more accessible to the community and to health professionals. She finds working with people with lived experience and community organisations as one of the most rewarding and critical aspects of her role.