Promote awareness and education in deaf mental health


We are a small group of concerned volunteers who started to raise funds to support deaf mental health. We started in 2019 by raising funds in memory of Ben Souter, a much loved highly skilled and experienced interpreter, trainer and mentor, who sadly died the year before. He was passionate about creating a mental health hub for deaf people because he felt strongly that deaf people, especially Auslan users, had incomplete access to mental health information and service.

Karli Health Centre has partnered with Strathmore Wood to administer the grants

We are grateful to Deaf Australia who we have recently partnered with to support our charitable status. This means that your donations are now tax deductible.


Karli Dettman, 

Karli is the Director of Karli Health Centre Pty Ltd. She works as a clinical counsellor and a yoga therapist in individual and group sessions. As well, she is a supervisor for her staff and work placement students.

She has a MA degree in Mental Health Counselling from Gallaudet University in Washington D.C., USA attained in 1998 as well as a BA in psychology and developmental drama in 1996. She also completed a foundation certificate in family therapy (London, UK) in 2000. Karli is a member (Level 4) of the Australian Counselling Association and is a Senior Yoga teacher/member with Yoga Australia.

Karli has extensive experience working with Deaf children and adults with various additional needs since 1998, both overseas and in Australia. Karli is passionate in doing “quiet” advocating in the areas of Deaf Mental Health, by networking and partnering with other organisations. In 2020, she coined the term Deaf Trauma with her Deaf Mental Health volunteer team; she had noted the six unique Deaf traumas in her work with both past and current clients. 

Teresa Cumpston Bird

Teresa is an experienced and qualified mental health Auslan-English interpreter, having worked in this capacity for nearly 40 years. She has also worked in educational settings and, some years ago, worked for a number of years as a community worker with the Deaf community. Now she is a semi-retired interpreter and is happy to volunteer with Karli Health Centre to provide support and advice for different aspects of the business.

She has a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in Psychology from San Francisco State University as well as an Advanced Diploma of Interpreting and Translating from RMIT.

Claire Black

Claire is a CODA who tired of hearing about people missing out on access due to lack of interpreters.  After many years working in marketing and then environmental advocacy, Claire decided to refresh her sign language skills and completed a Diploma of Auslan at MPT in 2019, then became an accredited NAATI interpreter in May 2021.

Gillian Bartholomew

Gillian began working as a trainee counsellor/therapy assistant for Karli Health Centre in early 2022 while doing her practicum placement. She completed her Bachelor of Counselling in 2023. She is now a qualified counsellor and a registered member of PACFA. Gillian also has an Associate Diploma of Arts and a background in creative arts, business and support work.

Gillian is Deaf, has “lived experience” in many challenging areas of life and understands the importance of Deaf and HoH people having a safe and confidential space to be heard and understood. She uses a trauma-informed, person-centred integrative approach and respects that everyone is unique, yet valuable, no matter who they are or what their background is. Gillian uses a holistic approach (Bio-Psycho-Social-Spiritual) and believes each person has the potential to find a positive way forward in life with support.

Gillian has a special interest in Gillian has a special interest in Deaf Trauma, Complex Trauma, Body Image Issues, Addictions and Expressive Therapies. She is passionate about Deafness and Mental Health and has been volunteering for Deaf Mental Health Fund since early 2023.  

Leesa Selwyn

Leesa provides mental health and well-being support to Deaf, HoH and hearing clients at KHC.

Leesa has been a yoga and meditation teacher for over 15 years and has run several yoga retreats in Bali and Melbourne.  She offers a unique process of mindfulness, movement, meditation and additional therapeutic techniques.

She loves to study and expand her knowledge; holding three certified yoga teacher qualifications, (2008, 2012, 2018), a Diploma of Auslan (2003), Diploma of interpreting (2011) and Certificate IV in Mental Health (2021) training in the areas of trauma, ACT, person centred and holistic approaches and is likely to continue her studies in the area of counselling. She recently joined our Deaf Mental Health fund team in late 2023  to volunteer her time; one example is the free yoga session every Monday night alternating with Karli at 5pm. 

Pam Dethridge 

Pam has brought a wealth of finance experience to KHC since commencing with us in late 2022 and now also supports the DMHF. She has a Bachelor of Business (Accounting) Degree and Post Graduate Diploma in Accountancy. She obtained her Chartered Accountancy qualification through one of the Big Four accounting firms and is a Member of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ). She had worked extensively for public accounting firms – small, medium and large – in a variety of roles in Melbourne and Sydney.

She is a life member of Deaf Victoria and is keenly involved in Deaf groups and is currently volunteering for DMHF’s finances with Deaf Australia and supporting Karli in the areas of partnership with other organisations.


Neil Wood 

Neil is a big supporter of Deaf men’s mental health. He is passionate in teaching Auslan to hearing fathers of Deaf children and is an ideal Deaf male role model for many.   

He used to volunteer for DMHF for two years in 2021-2023 and left in early 2023 due to his many work commitments including advising the First Aid Mental Health Australia to create a new course about Deaf people.  He has generously donated to create the DMH website which the DMHF team is grateful for. 

A bit about Neil.  He is the eldest member of his entirely Deaf family – both his parents are Deaf, as are his two siblings.  He was originally trained as a carpenter but due to his passion for Auslan moved to teaching Certificate II to Diploma levels and Auslan components of the interpreters’ course. When he relocated to Queensland from Perth, he coordinated Auslan Short Courses for Deaf Australia and provided training for  Auslan teachers as part of Education Queensland’s ‘Transition to Auslan Project’ across primary and secondary schools.  Neil also worked for Southbank TAFE in Brisbane as Senior Lecturer from 2014-2019.  Neil was awarded the 2016 Educator of the Year by TAFE Queensland.