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Rhea Werner

16-year-old half-German, half-Indian policy changemaker, and mental health advocate currently residing in Australia.




St Catherine’s School, Toorak, Melbourne


Grants & Awards 

  • 2022 Australia Day - Young Citizen of the Year

  • Harvard Innovation Challenge 2nd Place Team – Social Innovation

  • International Young Researcher’s Conference (IYRC) 2nd Place – Global Health Case Competition


1. Co-Founder and Co-Chair, Body Confident Collective Youth Project 2021 – Present - Founded and currently lead the Body Confident Collective Youth Project – the first, national youth-led initiative supported by researchers from Melbourne University. - Pioneered youth initiative to receive $50,000 grant from the Federal Australian Government’s “Better Health” Initiative under VicHealth. - Lead 15+ young Australians and youth engagement events in partnership with the Foundation for Young Australians. Invited to join the National Mental Health Commission’s youth healthcare policy consultation. 2. Harvard STRIPED Institute for Eating Disorders, Research Fellow 2021 – Present - Leading the Australian Policy Work for Harvard STRIPED in establishing the Body Confident Collective Youth Project, which is working in collaboration with the Harvard STRIPED initiative in order to pioneer legislative work in Australia with support from the former federal treasurer of Australia. - Researched and aided in the development of Senate Bills H.2331 & Bill S.1525, which are currently being deliberated in Massachusetts, New York and California. 3. Columbia University, Researcher 2021 – Present - Working under MD Candidate, Paul Lewis, using Twitter algorithms to deduce the sentiment and effectiveness of Australian public health policy. 4. Mental Health Foundation Australia (MHFA), Future Leader 2021 – Present - Selected as an Australian Future Mental Health Leader as part of the Mental Health Foundation Australia (MHFA). Working towards establishing a partnership with MFHA and BCC YAC, in order to facilitate collaborative work in the Victorian Youth Forum. - Lead body image and policy summit with 200+ attendees to present current translational healthcare policy research in this field. - Represented MHFA as part of a research study conducted by Monash and Sydney University, analysing mental health in people of a culturally or linguistically diverse background in order to co-design the Growing Minds Australia Check-Up Tool in conjunction with healthcare policy. 5. Boroondara Youth Council 2021 – Present - Leading councillor on Boroondara’s council, currently aiding in the planning & delivery of events as well as action statements for the young people living in Boroondara. - Facilitated the development of the Hawthorn Headspace Mental Health Centre, as member of the Australian Youth Parliament team through lobbying legislative work. - Facilitated development on the council’s annual 2022/23 budget, through interviewing youth stakeholders and taking into consideration KPIs, rate caps and community sentiment.

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