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Important recognition for lived experience as key to mental health reform

Lived Experience Key to Mental Health Reform

The announcement of an $ 8.5-million investment by the Albanese Labor Government to elevate those with lived or living experience of mental ill-health to drive reform has been wholeheartedly welcomed across the mental health sector.  

Lived Experience Australia (LEA) was specifically named in the funding announcement to receive support in recognition of our work in leading lived experience research and building consumer and carer capacity.  

LEA’s Chair and Executive Director, Professor Sharon Lawn, was in Canberra attending a ‘Better Access Evaluation’ Forum, during which the announcement of the funding was made.

“The event involved many people who came together to help understand what needs to happen to improve equity of access to Better Access. The announcement by Minister Butler was a fitting way to end an incredibly respectful and collaborative day in which the importance of lived experience voices was clearly evident and central to the day’s discussions. The announcement was overwhelming and such an honour to the lived experience sector.”  

All board members and staff of LEA have lived or living experience as mental health consumers and/or carers, family members, or kin. All research and capacity building undertaken by LEA is designed, created, delivered, and evaluated by those with lived experience of mental ill-health. 

“This funding is so valuable to LEA, as we continue to work to elevate the voices of lived experience, and empower them to self-advocate, and advocate for others,” Professor Lawn stated. “Undertaking research like our recent ‘Experiences of Loneliness’ and our ‘Missing Middle Report’ ensures that the voices of people with lived experience are able to ‘tell it how it really is’ so that decision-makers ‘get it’ and people are heard.” LEA uses these stories to shed light on issues to government and other agencies and influence reform.  

LEA also welcomes the funding announcement to establish two independent national mental health lived experience peak bodies – one each for Consumers and Carers/Family/Kin. Professor Lawn responded to this announcement “This is something which has been in the pipeline for a while, recommended by the Productivity Commission. The establishment of these important peaks will be developed with lived experience at their core.” 

With this funding announcement, the future for LEA is clear – undertaking research and capacity building by, for, and with the lived experience community. “Health – whether physical or mental – needs to be more affordable, available, accessible, and appropriate for all Australians. This we know from research we’ve already undertaken. It’s time now to use lived experience to co-design and co-create this into reality.” 

Lived Experience Australia is a national mental health advocacy organisation, whose board, staff, and representatives all have lived experience as a mental health consumer, carer, or family member, or a combination of these. Our goal is to ensure that the voice of those who experience mental ill-health in any of these ways is heard and incorporated into policy reform to improve mental health services for all across Australia. To contribute to our mental health research and advocacy, simply go to our website and click on ‘Join Now’.


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