Our Local Project Officers

Heather Gant 

Local Project Officer – Rural Mental Health Partnership

Covers Western NSW and Far West Local Health Districts


Heather has a background in nursing; she commenced working in mental health as a new graduate, in Child & Adolescent Mental Health, providing services to families in regional centres, through to rural and remote communities in Western NSW LHD.  She has also worked in crisis mental health, providing services via Telehealth across Western NSW & Far West LHD. 

She has completed her Masters in Mental Health (Child & Adolescent), a Grad Cert in D&A Nursing and a Grad Cert in Disability Inclusion.  Heather is passionate about equity of health service provision to rural and remote communities, which stems from growing up in a small farming community.   

Charlotte Finlayson

Local Project Officer – Rural Mental Health Partnership

Covers Upper Hunter New England (Tamworth and above) and the Mid North Coast NSW Local Health Districts


Charlotte is a current PhD candidate at the University of Sydney School of Education and Social Work. She has a Bachelor of Social Work (First Class Honours) and Bachelor of Arts (Sociology and Socio-legal Studies) from the University of Sydney. Charlotte is an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker with experience working in community mental health, suicide prevention and counselling settings.

Charlotte has a special interest rural and remote mental health and in incorporating lived experience approaches into services responses to social and emotional distress. Her current research is focused on exploring experiences help-seeking for suicidal distress in rural and remote NSW. 

Michelle Bonner

Local Project Officer – Rural Mental Health Partnership

Covers Southern NSW Local Health District


Michelle Bonner is currently a generalist social worker in Community Health in the Eurobodalla region. Previously she was a case manager with the Eurobodalla Bushfire Recovery Support Service working with individuals impacted by the Black Summer Bushfires 2019/2020. She has also worked at the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in their policy and community engagement teams.

In her role at Dress for Success Sydney she was a member of the CQU Regional Engagement Committee (NSW Region) and managed Success Works, a program focused on supporting women with a criminal history into employment.

Michelle is a social worker by background having worked in the government, non-government, charitable and academic sectors in NSW and Northern Territory. Michelle has worked in the complex and sensitive areas of domestic violence, grief and loss, elder abuse, sexual health, child sexual abuse and women in the criminal justice system, managing several challenging projects. She has an ongoing commitment and passion for human rights and social justice in Australia aiming to bridge the gap between the advantaged and less advantaged in society.

Brittany Smith

Local Project Officer – Rural Mental Health Partnership

Covers Northern NSW Local Health District


Brittany is a Clinical Psychology Registrar, who holds a Master of Clinical Psychology from the University of Technology Sydney. Alongside her role within The Peregrine Centre, Brittany works as a Clinical Psychology Registrar providing services to children and families across Northern NSW. Brittany has experience working in community mental health, research, and disability support settings. Brittany enjoys working collaboratively with individuals and their support system in working to strengthen relationships and improve mental health and wellbeing.

Having grown up on the north coast and worked in both rural and metropolitan settings, Brittany is passionate about the delivery of equitable and sustainable mental health services in rural and remote communities. Brittany is committed to being a part of local research, and education initiatives that strengthen inclusive, supportive, and evidence-based practice to support improved access for all community members.

Diane Heathcote

Local Project Officer – Rural Mental Health Partnership

Covers Lower Hunter New England and Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health Districts:


Diane has worked as a Psychologist in numerous public, private and not for profit settings using a range of assessment and evidence-based counselling, behavioural, psychoeducational and parenting interventions for clients of all ages.  She completed a Master in Clinical Psychology at the University of Newcastle and has worked in a variety of research, educational and clinical roles. Her focus has been to support children and young teenagers experiencing a range of neurodivergent, learning, emotional and/or social challenges. She has co-developed and presented numerous parenting programs for parents of children with ADHD. She firmly believes that as children are integrated within their environments it is important to work with  families, schools and communities to provide support and develop strategies that are meaningful and workable. Increasingly this requires training and consultation within these support structures, further benefitting the community and enhancing its resilience and providing opportunities to share lived experiences.

Diane’s experiences with community health, ASPECT, and establishing a regional Outreach service for The Behavioural Problems Clinic, reinforced her belief that community centric mental health services provide the best opportunity for those who are struggling to find pathways to connect and thrive.

Sarah Sherratt

Local Project Officer – Rural Mental Health Partnership

Covers Upper Hunter New England (Tamworth and above) and the Mid North Coast NSW Local Health Districts


Sarah is a Clinical Psychologist, who holds a Master of Clinical Psychology from the University of New England and a Bachelor of Psychology with Honours from Griffith University. Alongside her role within The Peregrine Centre, Sarah works as a Clinical Psychologist within Community Mental Health providing services to children and families. Sarah also provides support to her community through private practice seeing clients across the lifespan within the New England area. Sarah has experience working in government, non-government and private settings, in clinical, research, academic and educational roles.

Growing up in a small town within the New England area Sarah is aware of the challenges that face regional communities. Having lived and worked in both rural and urban settings, Sarah is passionate about access and delivery of effective, evidence-based sustainable mental health supports in rural and remote communities and supporting local clinicians to grow and develop across their carers to best support their own local communities.

Laura Parrish

Local Project Officer – Rural Mental Health Partnership

Covers Illawarra Shoalhaven NSW Local Health District


Laura holds a Bachelor of Psychology (Honours) from the University of Wollongong. Beyond her role as Local Project Officer, Laura has several years’ experience within mental health research. She has contributed to a range of projects including clinical trials, online interventions, diagnostic tool evaluations, and program evaluations.

Laura is dedicated to advancing and promoting accessible and inclusive mental health care for everyone. Recognising the challenges individuals in rural and remote areas face in accessing essential mental health services, she is passionate about enhancing service delivery in these communities.