Authors: Mary O'Hagan
Event: 2023 The MHS conference - Adelaide
Subject: Lived experience leadership for human rights: a view from inside the system
Type of resource: Video
Abstract: Government and mainstream mental health organisations are rapidly creating designated executive leadership positions for people with lived experience as services users or families/whanau. These new positions have been created to promote human rights and lived experience perspectives within a system that has not traditionally promoted them. It’s inevitable that these roles will be a paradoxical mix of opportunities and dilemmas for the people who fill them. These positions create tensions in values and identity, which are amplified for those with intersectional identities, such as indigenous people. Lived experience leaders are often constrained by their roles as they straddle two conflicting worlds; in the struggle between pragmatism and purism they must navigate the most effective ways to change the systems they work within while seeking to retain the trust of lived experience communities. Despite these dilemmas, the opportunities for these new roles are enormous if the new lived experience leaders find allies within the organisation and are supported to bring their values and perspectives to work. Lived experience leaders are developing new approaches to organisational power structures, cultures and ways of working. They are moving beyond engagement to developing partnerships with lived experience communities. Their ultimate role is to promote human rights through helping to improve the experience and outcomes for people who use services. There is much to reflect on how lived experience leadership changes the organisation and also how working in the organisation changes lived experience leaders. The talk will be informed by conversations with several lived experience leaders and allies in government and mainstream mental health organisations in Australia and New Zealand.