Youth advisors for Orygen Virtual Worlds

Youth advisors for Orygen Virtual Worlds

Orygen Digital, the digital mental health division of Orygen, is inviting young people who have received treatment from a youth mental health service to join a group of youth advisors and participate in the development of Orygen Virtual Worlds (OVW).

OVW is an online virtual world, or platform, that is being designed for the online delivery of mental health services. The platform will feel similar to an online multiplayer video game, with customisable digital characters (‘avatars’), rendered 3D environments and interactive elements. We hope this virtual world will connect clinicians with young people who would otherwise face challenges in accessing professional support. In addition, we hope it will offer a more engaging and versatile alternative to telehealth or traditional in-person services.

Over the next year, we aim to have a working prototype of OVW and to be trialling it with young people, clinicians and peer workers. Using a participatory design model, we’re hoping to engage young people as part of the decision-making process to ensure that the end-product meets their needs and preferences.

what is the opportunity?

We’re looking to put together a team of approximately 10 youth advisors (aged 16 to 25 years) who have lived experience of mental ill-health and have received treatment at a youth mental health service. As a youth advisor, you will follow us through each stage of development and offer your opinion on key design aspects of OVW. We want your help to make OVW as inclusive, functional, engaging and user-friendly as possible.

what does this involve?

Youth advisors will meet as a group in a series of workshops run between June 2021 and February 2022. Approximately six to nine workshops will be conducted over the nine-month period, with each workshop lasting between one-to-two hours each. While workshops will primarily take place over Zoom, there will be opportunities for in-person sessions later in the design process.

We’re looking for youth advisors who are eager to work with us through every stage of development, and are keen to have their voices heard throughout the process. Leading up to each session, the group facilitator will work with you to try arrange meeting times that suit your schedule. Meeting times are flexible and can change between workshop sessions.

Each workshop will have a clear set of goals, but they will also operate as a two-way forum between youth advisors and the project team. As a youth advisor in these workshops, you might be expected to:

  • discuss your experiences of accessing youth mental health services, including potential barriers you have faced;
  • voice your opinion about the design, features and functions of the OVW platform;
  • contribute feedback on prototypes of the OVW platform as it’s developed; and
  • collaborate with group members in design activities.

In your role, there might be times when you feel it would be useful to share your personal experiences with mental ill-health and accessing healthcare services, however this is entirely up to you and there is no expectation to do so. Anything shared during workshops or via email with the project team will not be shared outside of the team without your consent.

The project team is composed of researchers, clinicians and technology developers from Orygen and the University of Melbourne. The workshops will be run by a group facilitator, who will be supported by another member of the project team. This second facilitator will change from session to session, depending on the aims of the workshop.

Am I eligible?

We are looking for people who:

  • are aged 16 to 25 years;
  • have received treatment from a youth mental health service, and are confident in sharing their experiences and ideas about mental healthcare;
  • are passionate about technologies such as virtual reality, online spaces and multiplayer gaming; and
  • have access to a PC, Zoom and a stable internet connection.

While not essential, we’re interested in engaging young people who:

  • live or have lived in regional or remote Australian communities, and have had experience accessing mental health services in these communities;
  • identify as Indigenous Australian or Torres Strait Islander;
  • are have a disability and face challenges accessing in-person services;
  • identify as culturally diverse and/or as LGTIQA+.

what might be some of the outcomes of my involvement?

By participating in this project, you have an opportunity to apply your lived experience, expertise and knowledge to the development of an exciting new technology. In future, OVW could be used to better support young people in accessing mental health services.

This is also an opportunity to build skills and develop yourself professionally. You will be acknowledged as a project youth advisor on all project outputs, in the way that you prefer – this might be using your full name or you can remain anonymous.

You will be reimbursed at a rate of $30 per hour for your time.

what SUPPORTs WILL i have access to?

Ensuring that you feel comfortable and supported for the duration of the project is of high priority. The group facilitator will work with you to develop a wellbeing plan for your involvement in this project, which will outline anything we need to be aware of to support your safety and wellbeing throughout this project, including who you and the project team can contact if additional support is needed.

The youth participation team at Orygen can provide independent support outside the group should you need it, and there are clinicians on the research team should any issues arise.

how can i get involved?

If you’re interested in being a youth advisor are contributing to OVW, please complete the form below and someone from the team will be in touch.

Expressions of interest close on Sunday, 13 June 2021.

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If you have any further questions about the role or the project, feel free to directly contact either the group facilitator, Dean Kolovos, or project coordinator, Carli Ellinghaus. Their contact information is available below:

Dean Kolovos, Youth Peer Worker. Pronouns: him/him/his. Email:

Carli Ellinghaus, Project Manager. Pronouns: she/her/hers. Email: