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Reflections on TheMHS Conference

This year's theMHS conference theme was ‘Humanity and Human Rights’.

Friday, 8 September 2023 at 3:36 am
Image of Collaborative Centre attendees at TheMHS Conference in Adelaide
Caroline Lambert (LEAP Chair), Amelia Walters (Board Member), Lisa Brophy (Board Member), Dan Brown (Establishment Team), Puneet Sansanwal (LEAP Member), Hanann Al Daqqa (Establishment Team) at the theMHS conference in Adelaide 2023

In August, the Victorian Collaborative Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing (The Collaborative Centre) had a strong attendance at the annual theMHS conference in Adelaide. 

Members from our Lived Experience Advisory Panel (LEAP), Board and establishment team attended the 4-day conference. This was both on behalf of the Collaborative Centre, as well in relation to our members' own professional capacity.  

This year's theMHS conference theme was ‘Humanity and Human Rights’, and over the four days The Collaborative Centre were able to engage with thought-provoking material that had us exploring mental health reform, lived experience leadership, and innovation at both a National and Victorian level.  

Some of the key highlights for us were: 

The keynote presentations that set some important scenes for us as we travel our establishment journey with our Lead Partners at the Collaborative Centre. 

  • Dainius Puras who said “if you don’t fully embrace human rights and you are in medicine, that medicine should be banned” 
  • Mary O’Hagan who spoke about collaboration and relationships being central to the work we do, changing mindsets around power and the importance of learning. 
  • Tom Calma who spoke powerfully about First Nations peoples’ experience, the need for a yes vote for The Voice. 

The strength of lived and living experience leadership advocacy. Through presentations, facilitation, and the perspectives of people with lived and living experience brought powerful discussions on the challenges needed for the mental health system to work within a human rights framework. Members of our LEAP and establishment team attended autonomous Consumer and Carer sessions at the conference, which had a took a particular focus on advocacy and community building. The team also reflected on the opportunity of the Collaborative Centre in contributing to the development of the lived and living experience workforce outside of peers' roles in services.  

The Importance of storytelling and story sharing to break pre-conceived power dynamics, and pull away from strictly clinical perspectives towards one of equality, collaboration, and connection 

Breaking barriers of language and stigma in order for mental health services to be accessible to all Victorians, when and how they need it.  

Although there are many gains that have been made, there is still a lot of work to be done in shifting the mental health system to one that is based in humanity and human rights. We truly believe the Collaborative Centre has a key role to play in this for Victoria.