S03: SYMPOSIUM: Everything about us, with us

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By November 23, 2022 No Comments

Authors: Mary O'Hagan, Trevor Hunt, Michelle Swann, Tricia Szirom, Katherine Whetton, Kathy Wilson

Year: 2022

Event: 2022 TheMHS Conference

Subject: system, reform, lived experience

Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers

Abstract: SYMPOSIUM: Everything about us, with us

The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health Services (the Commission) made a number of recommendations about the need for sound and high-level governance, centred on Lived Experience, to ensure that the new mental health and wellbeing system is implemented effectively and ensures quality in all aspects.

The Commission acknowledged that the current mental health system is fundamentally flawed and cannot be fixed. It is damaging the people in it, both consumers and staff. It is irreparable. It needs rebuilding from the ground up.

The Commission’s reforms are based on a future mental health and wellbeing system where people with lived experience, both consumers and supporters, are central to the planning and delivery of treatment, care and support; specifically support of the leadership of people with lived experience.

To ensure tangible change in the system the Commission made two critical recommendations: that people with lived experience must be present at every level of decision-making; and robust governance is critical to ensure quality, equity and effective implementation of every aspect of the future system. To achieve the Commission’s vision, strong governance will be required to ensure consumers and carers and supporters are guaranteed appropriate support that is readily available and accessible.

This symposium will cover three key components of the involvement of lived experience in the implementation of the Commission’s vision:

An overview of the role of the Lived Experience Branch in the MHWD at an Executive level with the appointment of an Executive Director who has responsibility for ensuring that the LE perspective is applied within the division and more broadly within the sector. In both cases there are pockets of resistance which need to be addressed if the vision of the Royal Commission is to be realised.

As an Executive member there is an opportunity to influence the direction of the reform agenda and make the necessary changes required to change the system from consumer and carer perspectives. Key to this is the importance of change in the medical/psychiatric model which has been the dominant approach.

• The process for embedding lived experience in the MHWD which has included the development of a Lived Experience Strategic Partnership made up of peak bodies, divisional executives, Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander representatives and selected strategic thinkers from the sectors. In addition, there are designated LE staff in every branch.

• There are significant challenges in this role not the least of which is changing the culture of a government department which has been mandated to bring lived experience into the centre of all decision making.

• A significant approach is the creation of a Deep Dialogue Group which is designed to engage executive level public servants with lived experience personnel from the sector to deeply explore concepts which underpin our diverse concepts of mental health, mental illness and wellbeing.

• Examples of lived experience projects such as the lived experience peer led service, carer centres and a new agency to build consumer capacity. Each of these services will be developed by the consumer peak bodies using co-design. Implicit in the partnership approach is the importance of building the capacity of the sector.

Participants in this symposium will hear about the processes which have been brought to bear, the challenges and the opportunities for fundamental change. The structure of the symposium will commence with an overview of the Lived Experience Branch with a time for questions and discussion followed by the work to embed lived experience with the challenges and opportunities this offers. Participants will also be offered some examples of how lived experience is being built into the new service system and the potential to discuss this further with the staff responsible for implementation.

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