Irene Gallagher

Chief Executive Officer

Irene Gallagher brings a wealth of expertise and skills to the role as CEO of BEING, through a culmination of working in executive management positions in the corporate, NGO, and private sectors as well as NSW Health.

Over the past 20 years, Irene has been passionately working across the mental health sector, providing a living/lived experience perspective at state, national and global levels, and representing the valuable perspectives and experiences of people who experience mental health issues. This includes holding a position on a number of key committees, and Boards such as the Mental Health Coordinating Council (MHCC) and The International Association of Peer Supports (iNAPS).

Irene has previously established innovative projects, such as the South Eastern Sydney Recovery College, and has held positions which have established models for peer work in local health districts including District Manager for the peer workforce at South Easter Sydney Local Health District.

Following her passion in ensuring that organisations have a better understanding of the values and supports for the peer workforce, Irene established her own peer-led organisation from 2015 – 2017 off the back of a seeding grant. In this capacity, Irene worked with a number of community managed organisation to assist them in developing models of peer work suitable for their organisations and in keeping with the ethos of peer work.

With qualifications in psychology, psychotherapy, trauma counselling, and education, Irene has worked as a counsellor, trauma therapist, and trainer and assessor with Tafe, MHCC, as well as developing the recovery and trauma units for the Master in Mental Health for the Institute of Psychiatry.

Irene is a professional peer supervisor, and provides valuable professional development, mentoring and support through individual and group peer supervision sessions for a number of local health districts, and the CMO sector, both in NSW and nationally.


Peter Schmiedgen

Policy Officer

After completing a Phd at Macquarie University, Peter Schmiedgen worked for the NSW Ministry of Health in the areas of carers, disability and palliative care  policy. He is now the Policy Officer at BEING and has oversight of submissions and advocacy.


Alisha Bourke

Operations and Project Coordinator

Alisha has several years of experience working in the not-for-profit sector prior to her role at Being, most notably in providing books to disadvantaged children living across Australia. This role provided her with the opportunity to work with many remote and Indigenous communities and learn about their specific and often diverse needs. Alisha has previously presented on this work at three international conferences focusing on community engagement in the not-for-profit and university sector, and this knowledge and expertise is of great benefit when engaging communities of people living with mental health issues.

Alisha believes that both her own lived experience, and people with lived/living experience of mental health issues should be at the heart of her work, and informs every step of the projects that she works on.


Stephen Adei

Peer Workforce Project Coordinator

Stephen has several years of experience as a peer worker in the public health sector and community managed sector, and most recently implemented a Ministry of Health strategic initiative called Peer STOC (Supported Transfer of Care) for Prince of Wales Hospital designed to reduce readmission rates amongst consumers transitioning from hospital to the community.

He has been a peer educator for the South Eastern Sydney Local Health district as well as the Recovery College, a mental health consultant with private organisations, an advocate and public speaker for individuals with psychosocial disabilities with National Disability Services and the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission. Stephen also has over a decade and a half of experience in project management in the civil engineering and information technology spheres before transitioning to peer work.

Stephen believes in the enduring value of peer work and lived experience as a pillar of mental health care, and in his position as Peer Workforce Project Coordinator values the critical role peer workers play in the community managed and public sectors.