In September, Elena and Kirsten visited Wagga and sat down with some local consumers to talk about mental health reform and what issues are important to people with lived experience in Wagga. It was great to see some familiar faces, and some new ones.

An issue of real importance to participants was community supports for all people, not just those people who have a mental illness. The need for community connections was discussed, including supporting others in the community. People felt that focusing on others can help with their own mental health, but only if there are opportunities.

“I didn’t have a job at the time, so I volunteered a lot, and it was mainly to get me out of the house. Like there was stuff behind it I needed to get out of the house, cause I spent too much time in the house. But I actually felt like really good about doing meals on wheels…That feeling gave me purpose again and it really changed the direction of my life”.

One participant had recently been in hospital and told us some of her experiences whilst in an inpatient setting. We also spoke at length about the Mental Health Review Tribunal and the NSW Health Seclusion and Restraint review. Some issues that were highlighted were the lack of independence within the Review process and the concern that there would be no positive outcomes or accountabilities following the Review. People also felt quite disheartened by the Mental Health Review Tribunal and the belief that it rarely rules in favour of the people with a lived experience.

“Not once when I worked there did I ever ever ever see it overturned, or the person was allowed to go home. If the medical professionals wanted you to stay, you stayed”.

We had a wonderful discussion about things that Being could be doing to better represent people with a lived experience of mental illness, particularly in rural and regional areas. There was a great idea about local Being champions who could attend events on behalf of Being to spread the message about our work and get people involved. Being looks forward to exploring these ideas into the future. Thanks again to the people who attended our consultation.

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