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The 2024 Alex McLeod Co-Designer Training Award Program

Congratulations to this year’s awardees and stay tuned for the next call out!

The Alex McLeod Co-Designer Training Award Program provides support for members to be appointed to a training position for a year with the aim of fostering co-design skills and enhancing capabilities. This Award is named in honour of our long standing co-design member, Bev Harding, whose son sadly left the world in 2021. Bev shares, “Alex was someone who had a vibrant personality and loved life, however his mental ill-health prevented him from living life to its fullest. Tragically twenty years of struggling with mental torment, led to his premature death in 2021 at the age of thirty four.”

Bev Harding brings her own experience of mental health needs and providing support as a family member over the course of Alex’s life and navigating this major gap in mental health services. As one of the first members in the Co-Design Living Labs program, 2023 marked a 20-year relationship with the University of Melbourne Primary Care Mental Health program team. Bev first joined a ten year project exploring experiences of depression and service use in 2003 (the diamond study) and then, joined the Co-Design Living Labs on its establishment in 2017.

This annual Award marks an important moment in the next steps of the Co-Design Living Labs program as it becomes a national network and strives to support the member base to become leaders within the network through the National Health and Medical Research Council funded Special Initiative in Mental Health – The ALIVE National Centre for Mental Health Research Translation.

Congratulations to this year’s awardees – Julia and Samantha! Look out for the next call out for 2025 later this year!


Julia grew up in London and New York City and has an interesting and varied history having worked as a flautist, voice artist, receptionist, fraud prevention manager and more. Julia joined the Co-Design Living Labs Network in 2021 and has been working with the team as a casual lived-experience researcher. As a co-design trainee with lived-expertise of mental ill health, she is keen to learn more about the principles and practice of co-design and to implement this knowledge to make measurable changes in the community.


Sam brings a blend of experience from previous co-design sessions and from her studies in Behavioural Science where she has done research, report writing and collaborative projects. Sam joined us in 2021 and has been a co-lead of the network since 2023 and is excited for the opportunity to use her passion for transforming mental health treatment through the wisdom of lived-experience and to create authentic change. She is eager to delve deeper into co-design research methodologies, gain experience in leading sessions and learn more about how this work has the potential to influence government policy surrounding mental health. She is looking forward to learning and growing in this role.


Read more about the Co-Design Living Labs network here.

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