S36: ‘The Hub’ – A Story of Allyship

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By September 5, 2019 No Comments

Authors: Caroline Lambert, Julie Dempsey, Lisa Wright, Brittany McVeagh

Year: 2019

Event: 2019 TheMHS Conference

Subject: 'The Hub' - A Story of Allyship

Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers



Ms Julie Dempsey
A recipient of the Victorian Public Healthcare Minister's Award for 'Outstanding Achievement by an Individual or Team in Mental Health Care'. Julie is the Forensicare Senior Consumer Consultant. Julie is also involved with the women's Mental Health Network Victoria. Her work is informed by extensive personal experience as a mental health consumer.

Ms Lisa Wright
After finishing her teaching degree, Lisa originally enrolled in human resources, but soon realised that the classes she was attending didn't talk enough about humans. Lisa is Chief Social Worker at Forensicare, where she started as a new graduate in 2005. Lisa loves politics, is passionate about human rights, social justice and animals.

Dr Caroline Lambert
Caroline supports both of her children, one of whom lives with mental distress. In her spare time, she is also the Social Work and Lived Experience Clinical Educator at Forensicare, and an Industry Fellow at RMIT. Caroline holds a PhD in Social Work, and is passionate about inclusivity, anti-oppressive practices and kindness.

Ms Brittany McVeagh
Brittany is a conscientious, discerning and tenacious Consumer Consultant at Forensicare. Brittany now uses her own lived experience of mental illness to help consumers turn their experience into power and motivation. She is studying a Bachelor of Criminology with a view to transferring into social work. Brittany loves the outdoors.

This presentation will focus on the innovative approach that the Forensicare Social Work and Lived Experience teams take in collaboratively building a mutually strong, effective, and sustained workforce, within a forensic mental health system. Presentation aims include exploration and description of how the partnership was co-developed, the influence of existing research and external service delivery models, as well as how personal experience helps to keep clinical work human-centred. Exploration and description of values, processes, personnel and practices that underpin our team will also be explained. The lessons learnt along the way, as well as the advantages and challenges of our model will also be discussed. We consider that our model of allyship is contributing to a healthy, respectful workplace space. In turn, our collaborative approach allows us to do meaningful work in a system which can be complex and testing for service providers and service users alike.

Learning Objectives

Learning Objective 1: It is anticipated that audience members will gain an increased understanding of how our lived experience workforce and social work model functions. Audience members will also learn that there are collaborative approaches to mental health service delivery, which may contribute to a robust, sustainable, effective and healthy workforce environment.

Learning Objective 2: Our topic is relevant because it explores the development and implementation of a service model collaboration between a workforce of people with lived mental health experiences and a discipline that delivers clinical services to forensic mental health consumers.


Sinclair, A (2018) "Help yourself to our staff kitchen: a peer worker's reflection on microaggressions", The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, Vol. 13 Issue:3, pp.167-172

Happell ,B & Sholz, B. (2017) Doing what we can, but knowing our place: Being an ally to promote consumer leadership in mental health, International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, Vol 27, pp440 - 447

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