About WISA

WISA is a national not for profit organisation established in May 2015. Working WISA not harder and building strategic sustainable resources for schools to improve wellbeing underpins all of our work.


School communities building resilience in all students, especially the most marginalised and those at risk of marginalisation, so they can reach their potential in education and in life.


To work collaboratively with and support school communities in building a strategic whole of school approach to health and wellbeing that creates a socially just environment where all students can thrive, particularly those at risk of or who are being marginalized.

WISA Goals

1. WISA is an ethical, sustainable and member-based not for profit organisation

  • Maintaining charitable status
  • Diverse funding sources/streams
  • Efficient and effective operations and governance
  • Effective in growing and guiding WISA
  • Understands and mitigates risks

2. WISA is a valuable support for school leaders of wellbeing for enabling socially just outcomes

  • Identify strategies that increase protective factors and reduce risk factors in marginalised communities
  • Empower school leaders of wellbeing to advocate and achieve systemic school improvement
  • Lead research-informed and evidence based professional development and best practice in school wellbeing
  • Actively engage school leaders of wellbeing through networks and training
  • Lead the establishment of a vibrant national school wellbeing association
  • Identify and promote the development of national benchmark standards for school wellbeing

What we offer

There are four key strategic area’s that WISA has created to help school communities work in a planned strategic sustainable approach to addressing school wellbeing. These are as follows:

1. Provide support and build the capacity of school leaders of wellbeing

  • Provision of three levels of training incl. tools, resources and skills practice.
  • Essential / Basic Training for School Leaders of Wellbeing
  • Consolidating the School Wellbeing role which builds upon Essential Basic Training
  • Sustaining best practice in the Wellbeing role which builds upon the previous Consolidating training
  • Free annual membership for school leaders of wellbeing. Subscription provides access to newsletters, resources/tools & discounts
  • Mentor support for Leaders of School Wellbeing which offers individualised sessions tailored to address their specific needs, supporting and guiding them to work in a planned strategic whole school approach to address the Wellbeing needs, strengths and challenges within their school community.

2. Enabling school leadership and governance to effectively resource wellbeing in their school

  • A free School Governance and Leadership powerpoint presentation outlining the evidence of why wellbeing is school core business and the critically important steps required to implement a whole of school community approach to addressing Wellbeing.
  • 2-day Leadership Wellbeing Training for School Principals, Deputy Principals and Leadership roles. Day One addresses leader wellbeing and Day 2 the effective leading and resourcing of whole school community wellbeing. This training can be broken into single days or 5 x 2 hour after school modules.
  • Specifically tailored training to address the wellbeing of school leaders, governance bodies and staff at your school or network of schools.
  • Mentor support is available to work with school leadership in building and resourcing a whole of school approach to addressing Wellbeing linked to the schools strategic planning cycle.

3. Strategies for working with your most vulnerable students

  • A one day training or smaller tailored modules which can be provided for your whole school staff or district. This includes best practice tools and strategies to use.
  • Intervention, support and advice can be provided to your school upon request.

4. Population based approaches to school community wellbeing

  • WISA Conferences bring together leading academics, researchers and practitioners from across Australia to showcase school community wellbeing best practice, provide opportunities for knowledge and resource sharing and skill development
  • Staff Wellbeing training in school or district. One day or specifically tailored modules.
  • Most Effective Interventions to prevent, reduce and resolve bullying in schools is a vitally important one-day training for school leaders and staff. In school or at a district level.
  • The Balanced Student – A Whole of Person Approach to Student Wellbeing. The Balanced Student program is provided in school directly to students or as a teacher training. It is unique in taking a whole of person approach to student wellbeing, empowerment and resilience. Key elements focused on include Goal Setting, Time Management, Study Skills, Exercise, Nutrition, Sleep, Anxiety and Stress Management, Mental Strength and Mindfulness.
  • Mindfulness for Teachers and School Leaders is a practical, workshop style program focusing on how Mindfulness can improve teacher wellbeing and student wellbeing.
  • State and National Wellbeing in Schools Awards. The awards encourage and empower Australian school aged students, staff and members of the broader school community to consider and create something that improves the health, wellbeing and basic human rights of individuals within school communities. The Awards provide a mechanism to create and showcase innovation, celebrate positive strategies and empower children, young people and adults to be innovative and make a positive difference to others at a local community level through school communities. In each state there is a junior and senior student award, a school staff member award, and a school community member award. Each of the state recipients will automatically be in the draw to be selected as a national winner.


Please download our reports from the links below

Reports 2019-2020
Reports 2017-2018
Reports 2015-2016
Reports 2018-2019
Reports 2016-2017

The Team

The Board, staff and patrons of WISA bring a wealth of expertise and experience to the organisation having worked at a local, state, national and international level in education and wellbeing. We may be a new organisation but there are very experienced hands and heads with big hearts in our organisation.

WISA Board

Jac Van Velsen – WISA CEO and Board Member M.Ed, Grad Cert MH, DipYW

Jac together with Kerry Ashley, Ros Pretlove and Jeremy Hurley was a co-founder of WISA in 2015. She established the not for profit organization which has obtained full charity status. Early work involved the organisation of state conferences and shared writing, development and delivery of WISA resources. Jac brings to this role many years of project management, wellbeing and health promotion in education and community development. She has extensive experience working at a local, regional, state and national level addressing school wellbeing and health promotion. She was a national manager of the KidsMatter Primary school mental health and wellbeing initiative with Principals Australia Institute, supporting the implementation across Australia to schools at a local level. This also included the redevelopment of the KidsMatter resources content for schools into blended learning – a mix of face to face and online content. Jac worked with the Australian Psychological Society in the development of the hardcopy KidsMatter resources; and later was involved in the development of the strategic step by step guide for school wellbeing teams Action Team Handbook guiding a whole of school approach with best practice implementation science for school communities.

Her work has included providing a wide range of wellbeing resourcing at a local level directly to school leaders, staff, students and parents in primary and secondary schools across Western Victoria through the Catholic Education Office. This included linking schools to services in the broader community.

Rich experience was gained as the Victorian Coordinator for the Australian Principals Association Professional Development Council, in working strategically at a state level. This involved implementing MindMatters, a national mental health promotion initiative for secondary schools, working closely with secondary schools across all three education sectors, as well as the community sector, delivering professional learning to thousands of secondary school staff and hundreds of schools. Other rich opportunities to build skills and knowledge in working in the education and community sectors were through working in the School Focused Youth Service, local Government Youth Services and youth and adult homeless/housing services. Jac has a youth work, community development and education background working strongly within a social justice and community development approach.

Bret Hart – WISA Board Member and Deputy Chair MBBS FRACGP FAFPHM

A medical practitioner for over 30 years, half of which has been spent in Community Child Health and Public Health.  First Paediatric Registrar to rotate from Princess Margaret Hospital for Children to the Kimberley for 6-months. After further experience in a range of medical disciplines, returned to Derby in 1982 for almost 3 years as a District Medical Officer.
In 1984, an interest in Child Health was rekindled when employed as a Community Child Health Medical Officer. During this 7-year period founded Community Link and Network (CLAN Inc) – a volunteer support system for parents with young children, that continues today.

Convened the Youth Suicide Prevention Task Force that led to the establishment of a Ministerial Youth Suicide Working Party which produced a series of recommendations that were implemented by the Youth Suicide Advisory Committee.  The Public Health approach to youth suicide prompted a broader interest in Public Health and the opportunity was taken to establish the Gascoyne Public Health Unit in 1995 which was challenged by the first outbreak of HIV in a remote Aboriginal community, prompting a pioneering holistic approach which may have contributed to the suppression of the spread of the virus.
In 1997 invited Prof Tony McMichael to launch the Global EcoHealth Network at the site of the Broad St Pump in Soho, London in the hope that web-linking concerned individuals would stimulate the action.

Established the Coastal & Wheatbelt Public Health Unit and employed the first Mental Health Promotion Officer position in WA. Introduced the University of Pennsylvania’s Depression Prevention Program to Australia, which is now known as the Aussie Optimism Program. It is being implemented throughout WA under the auspices of Curtin University.

Created the Nest Enhancement Program utilising the “Baby Think It Over” infant simulator to create a virtual parenting experience with teenagers. Modified the model to research its impact, with the Institute for Child Health Research (ICHR) i.e. the Virtual Infant Parenting Project.

Co-Chaired the State Mental Health Promotion and Mental Illness Prevention Policy Group and on the editorial board of the International Journal for Mental Health Promotion.

Established the North Metropolitan Health Service Population Health Unit (PHU) and, to expand its influence on the social determinants of health, convened the North Metropolitan Alliance for Future Inc. launched in 2000 by Professor Sir Michael Marmot.

Instrumental in trialling the Early Development Index in North Metro Perth and promoted its utilisation throughout Australia. In recognition of their work in this area was awarded, with the PHU’s social epidemiologist, the status of honorary research fellow at the Telethon Institute of Child Health Research.

Until mid 2016 worked part time as a public health physician with the Unity of First People of Australia, which conducted community health assessments in remote regions of Western Australia on request. Currently Independent Board Director, Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service. Chair of and representative of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) on the Social Determinants of Health Alliance, chair of the Health in All Policies Reference Group for the RACP Faculty of Public Health Medicine Policy Advisory Committee and Faculty of Public Health Medicine representative on the RACP Child Health Equity Working Party. Previously Treasurer of the Climate and Health Alliance and a foundation Board member.

Kerry Ashley – WISA Board Member, Secretary and Public Officer MA ClinFamTher

Kerry together with Jac Van Velsen, Ros Pretlove and Jeremy Hurley was a co founder of WISA in 2015. Kerry has been working in the Not-for-Profit sector since 1978, with particular expertise in youth and family services, homelessness, affordable housing development and management, and family counseling. She has held many executive level positions in these sectors for nearly 30 years. She has attained a Masters in Clinical Family Therapy and has worked in a number of settings providing counseling to families and disengaged young people. In more recent times, her passion and experience in working with families in social welfare and clinical settings have highlighted the needs of both students and families in education settings and the need for prevention and intervention to support young people in building resilience. In particular the capacity to deal with life’s challenges; developing coping strategies to alleviate stresses and prevent mental health issues escalating where they might impact on survival and the capacity to make the most of their life choices. ie. extreme risk taking and suicidality.
Kerry has been involved with WISA since its inception as a Not For Profit Company limited by Guarantee and currently holds the role of Chairperson. Committed to social justice and equity, her expertise on the WISA Board brings forth capacity in governance, organisation and service development, innovation, program design, strategic partnerships, financial sustainability, capacity building and risk management.

Mary Tobin – WISA Board Member and Chair

Detail soon to be added.

Cassim Rawat – WISA Board Treasurer

Detail soon to be added.

Wren Gillett – WISA Board Assistant Secretary

Detail soon to be added.

WISA Training and Support Contractors

Jac Van Velsen provides training in Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland. Mentoring and support provided nationally.

Maria Hart provides training in Western Australia.

Paul Cahalan provides Leadership Wellbeing training nationally and leadership mentor support.

Kaye Dennis provides Strategies to support marginalised students training nationally.

Brad Felstead provides Mindfulness training nationally.

Suzanne Hobson provides WISA training nationally.

Sharon Sperling provides Nurture training nationally and is a National Manager of Nurture in Schools Australia.

Let's Work Together!

WISA can help tailor training or support to suit your local school or network of schools so please speak to us.

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