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The Lived Experience Centres March Newsletter

In this month’s edition, we will provide an overview of:

  • An update of what we’ve been up to at the Centre
  • Meet Amy our new deadly Project Officer
  • Member Spotlight
  • National Lived Experience (Peer) Workforce Development Guidelines
  • Showcase of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander excellence and articles

Head of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Centre update


We hope you all have been keeping well and safe as we transition back into our ways of working pre COVID-19 times. The team wanted to also acknowledge the tireless amount of work those of you who work in the mental health and suicide prevention space have given during these challenging times and thank you all for your continuous support in keeping our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities as safe as they can be.  The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Centre have achieved some significant achievements which we wanted to share with you all, as we hope to keep you updated through the year as you follow our journey.

Early in January, the Lived Experience Centre team had received fantastic news that our ethics approval for evaluating the Centre’s activities was approved by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS). This now enables us to begin to investigate formally whether the Centre’s activities are impactful for people with a Lived Experience and if we are doing this in the most appropriate way.

We have also begun engaging with Lifeline on their new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Crisis Line – 13YARN. We have 4 Lived Experience members that comprise the Lifeline Lived Experience Advisory Group, which currently meet fortnightly.

Additionally, we are organising for Trauma-Informed Capacity Building training for all of our network members which we hope will be delivered in the coming months.

We continue to seek partnerships from all over the country, being involved with new organisations including Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council Inc, the National Suicide Prevention Office and the Institute for Mental and Physical Health and Clinical Translation at Deakin University. We will continue to build on existing partnerships we have with groups and organisations such as MHLEEN, Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) and the Centre for Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention (CBPATSISP).


The importance of having mob at the table when programs and projects are being designed for us from the beginning. 

Mark Richards is a proud Wiradjuri man. In his spare time away from work Mark enjoys the outdoors, camping & hiking Mark is also a huge sports fan as well as an avid traveller and prides himself on being a role model for the young people in his family and community particularly the young men who look up to him. 

Mark shares with us

Having the opportunity to be involved in the lived experience advisory group for the Lifeline Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Crisis Line project was extremely fulfilling. Having Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mob with lived experience be a voice in initiatives such as this is invaluable. The advisory group from the lived experience network bring so much to the table, not only our own lived experience but also the shared experiences of family and community members who we have incredibly close connection to. Lifeline and the lived experience advisory group collaborated perfectly together and everyone’s knowledge, ideas and strengths were recognised and valued entirely. I feel that having the voices of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lived experienced Network is a must for any conversation and/or project that is going to directly impact them, their mob, their community and their culture. By mob, for mob!


Meet Amy Miller-Porter, our new Project Officer!

I am a proud Gringai Woman from the Wonnarua Nation, in the Hunter Valley, NSW. I grew up on Gadigal land in Sydney. I have worked in a variety of industries; however, my passion lies within the field of psychology/sewb.

Intergenerational and transgenerational trauma has become a key area of interest for me. I come from two generations of stolen children, my great-grand-mother and grand-mother. For much of my life I have experienced and observed family and community suffering. This became catalyst in my decision to study psychology.

Upon completing my studies, I would like to contribute to healing in whatever capacity I can.

For people who haven’t shared their lived experience, what advice would you give them?

Don’t discount the value of your lived experience. Our people have always valued lived experience as a source of wisdom and knowledge. It’s time it’s appreciated and used like our old people use it, as a valuable resource. The sharing of your personal experience and perspectives is vital to instrumental change, and healing, for our future. Advocating for what is close to your heart honours your journey and inspires those that are experiencing the same (pain).

Spotlight on our incredible National Network Members

Adam Hennessy is a Wiradjuri man who lives in the Central Coast of NSW. He is a father of three amazing sons and the husband of a great strong wife. He has his demons but wants to use his experience battling them and in life in general to try and help others navigate through dark times.

Adam has a few Undergraduate qualifications and a Masters degree, he has worked for over 20 years in human services (Policing, Child Protection and Juvenile Justice) he now splits his time between equity work for Universities Admissions Centre (UAC), assessment for DeakinCo and the Lived Experience Centre.

He has a passion for helping people and is humbled by the other members of the Network.

For people who haven’t shared their lived experience, what advice would you give them?

While it may sound cliché, sharing your lived experience is powerful.

I was reticent at first as I thought people would see me as weak, unstable different, but sharing my experience among friends and family then in a supportive network such as this has become an invaluable and powerful part of my life. By owning my past and sometimes current mental state and feelings, I am more able to deal with them more effectively myself and know I have a vast support network that I can lean on should I require it.

I have yet to have a negative experience with my shared experience, but I know that the strength and confidence my sharing has unleashed will hold guard against any potential future negative interactions or opinions.

We are here to help, listen and we are a shoulder to cry on and a network to support – be strong, be brave and set yourself free.

In the years to come, what change would you like to see for your family and community?

There are innumerable big-ticket items here, over representation in custody (adult and juvenile), in the criminal justice system in general, life expectancy, cultural exclusion and on and on…..

But here, my answer is less broad – I want to see my community come together to support mental health, to see individuals suffering from mental health issues as they do those with cancer or Covid. That it is a ailment that is impacting the individual, not defining them. I want to see open and honest discussions in Indigenous circles of the impact of mental health on all of our big-ticket issues mentioned above and a realisation that it is an inextricable link between all of these issues.


Insights from Dr Louise Byre about the National Lived Experience (Peer) Workforce Development Guidelines

Late last year, the National Mental Health Commission launched the National Lived Experience (Peer) Workforce Development Guidelines under Action 29 of the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan.

The Guidelines will support change across the mental health sector by improving understanding of the benefits of the Lived Experience workforce.  They are designed to assist employers in assessing their local readiness and prioritising activities that support successful implementation.

We were lucky enough to hear from Dr Louise Byre, who shared some insights from over the past decade, how her work has informed these guidelines:

Over the past 12 years I’ve led a body of research that informed the Guidelines. This program of research includes multiple studies across diverse settings here and overseas, using qualitative and quantitative methods. The findings from all studies have been peer-reviewed and published in high-ranking scientific journals. Participant groups represent the whole workforce and include people in a variety of management positions, colleagues in HR, administrative positions as well as the full range of mental health professions, and of course many people in designated Lived Experience roles across the diverse settings and role types. 

As part of the Queensland Framework and National Guidelines research we were also able to test and verify the key findings with literally 1000s of participants, which adds further to the credibility of this body of work. We believe the depth of evidence the Guidelines drew upon creates a world first and are very excited about how bringing this evidence base to a translational, industry focused document like the Guidelines can improve Lived Experience workforce development going forward.


Keeping up to date with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander articles and excellence

  1. Voices of Power podcast

  2. The Drum:  The rise of strong Indigenous female leaders video

  3. The determinants of planetary health: an Indigenous consensus perspective article

  4. Strengthening Spirit and Culture: A Cost Benefit Analysis of Dardi Munwurro’s Men’s Healing Program Report 

  5. Social and Emotional Wellbeing Gathering Report

  6. The Impacts of Eating Disorders among Aboriginal People article 

  7. Meet Graduate and National Network Member Michelle article 

  8. The ripple effect, silence and powerlessness article

We want this newsletter to be valuable for you, so please share any feedback you think will be beneficial for others to indigenouslec@blackdoginstitute.org.au

We look forward to hearing your feedback and sharing our next newsletter with you.

How to get help 

If you or someone nearby is in immediate danger, please call emergency services on 000. 

Needing to talk to someone about how you are feeling? For support call:

  • Lifeline – 13 11 14 (24/7)
  • Beyondblue – 1300 22 4636 (24/7)
  • National Indigenous Critical Response Service – 1800 805 801 (24/7)
  • Qlife (LGBTIQ+ Sistergirl or Brotherboy) – 1800 184 527 (3pm-Midnight) 
  • Blue Knot Foundation (for adult survivors of childhood trauma and abuse) 1300 657 380 (9am-5pm)
Contact the team 

To contact the team, please email indigenouslec@blackdog.org.au

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