Funder by the Department of Human Services Auspiced by Our Community

Training / Events

Our Consumer Place offered many forms of training and talks, ranging from workshops on using our story to fostering consumer leadership; from teaching clinicians-in-training at universities to facilitating talks on Stigma. On this page, you can see some examples of previous training.


Past events:


Storytelling workshops for consumers

In November 2011 Our Consumer Place produced a booklet for consumers on using their personal stories in many different ways from working with the new media through to public speaking. Following the success of this booklet Our Consumer Place ran two workshops on using story.

Both workshops were run by Merinda Epstein and Wanda Bennetts, two of the best loved and most experienced consumer story users in Australia. Click here for more information. If you are interested in hosting this training in the future, contact Merinda at:


Listening to Lived Experience

This series discussed mental distress/madness from the perspective of people with lived experience. The voices of other experts have been dominating community understanding of "mental health"- this was a chance engage differently. (Presented in collaboration with the Melbourne Free University). Click here for flier.

Session 1: Introduction to Intentional Peer Support (IPS)
How do you support someone going through intense emotional distress or acting in ways that you find confusing, distressing or mad? This was an introduction to IPS, developed by Shery Mead in the US, trauma-informed, non-coercive, honest, transformative and practical.
Flick Grey and Merinda Epstein, Our Consumer Place

Session 2: Madness in the academy
This session looked at how universities are taking up (or not taking up) the impressive intellectual work of people with lived experience.
Speakers: Cath Roper, Australia's first critical consumer (mad) academic, Centre for Psychiatric Nursing, University of Melbourne. Merinda Epstein and Flick Grey (Our Consumer Place)

Session 3: What do we want from the mental health system?
This session explored what people who have used (and/or been damaged or neglected by) the mental health system think and what we want. The mental health system is very sick, still grounded in coercion and paternalism. But these two leaders are at the forefront of the winds of change.
Speakers: Merinda Epstein, Our Consumer Place and long-time human rights activist and Indigo Daya, Voices Vic and Smoking Mad.


Consumers as Educators

Some background: In the 1990s, a series of workshops that came to be known as "The Deakin Workshops" were held to discuss embedding consumer and carer lived experience into the education of mental health clinicians. The findings of these visionary workshops were published as "Learning Together: Education and Training Partnerships in Mental Health."

What was this day about This one-day forum showcased examples of current innovative and exciting educational practice, provided historical context and asked the questions "Where are we now?" and "What does the future hold for consumers as clinical educators?" It brought together consumer educators and non-consumer mental health educators who respect and value the role of lived experience in clinical education. There was also be plenty of time for networking and discussion.

Click here for a copy of the resource booklet made available on the day.

Feedback from the day: (all was collected anonymously)

Another great rejuvenating day, exceptionally organised and facilitated by Our Consumer Place. I cannot thank you guys enough. Cheers.

A consumer conference run in a consumer way.

Seeing so many intelligent, articulate, educated, diverse, enthusiastic people making real change & sharing real ideas.

Meeting and hearing from people with such a high level of knowledge and expertise.

Really good to hear history of people's experiences/work. Good to be amongst peers, feel solidarity and safe, ie. people that are both mad and functioning in various professional contexts.

Blown away by the amazing things people are doing.

That many people have a lot of passion and drive to change things. The huge amount of experience, talents, skills and knowledge. The great sharing of knowledge + resources.

A really excellent day... Not to mention excellent lunch. Much to ponder on the way home and weeks to come.

Lots of ideas and inspiration, awareness of brilliant work people are doing, reinforced my already v. high opinion of Flick + Merinda's work.


Merinda's Keynote from The Mental Health Services Conference 1996

The 2010 THEMHS Conference in Sydney marked 20 years of THEMHS Conferences. Leonie Manns, one of the keynote speakers at the 2010 conference, reflected on the history of THEMHS and noted that Merinda's keynote from 1996 was consistently singled out as the most memorable keynote in the conference's history. It is still remarkably (and possibly disappointingly) relevant today. You can download a copy here. (PDF 310KB)


Consumer Leadership Conference

We ran our first "Consumer Leadership Conference," at Ross House in Melbourne, on October 14th, 2010. About 60 people were in attendance, including both self-identifying consumers and supporters. Keynote speakers were:

Other sessions included:

Photos from the day are available here.

Feedback from the day:

"Awesome! Inspirational speakers! So happy to spend time with "Like Minds" And so much respect in the room." -Bianca Childs (Forensicare)

"It's great that it was organised. Thanks OCP. Consumer leadership is being discussed internationally and it is very important to have a developing Australian perspective to contribute." -Jenny Speed (A Way Ahead Queensland).

"Very positive, respectful environment that came from a positioning of not having the answers but opened the discussion." -Neil Turton-Lane (Western Region Health Centre)

"Great opportunity for us to get together & have our own discussions / develop our thinking / share our experiences. "Conversations" are important & need to be valued & this conference allowed this to happen." -Wanda Bennetts (North West Area Mental Health Services)

"Great opportunity to network & meet new people on the journey. Also a way to learn and be informed about current challenges in the sector/for consumers. ... [I liked] the honesty & transparency of views, mutuality & respect! Face to face communication with peers about shared ideas and problems. "Life-giving" encounters." -Anon (PHaMS worker)

"Great day. Really nice mix of speakers. ... [I liked] the radical articulate voice, respectful for the diversity of consumers' experiences and views. ... I really respect your politics and approach and the way you're communicating "consumer perspective" and facilitating leadership." -Anon

..."an open & safe & welcoming space to discuss, rant, meet and laugh. The good humour was essential. OCP is the place for dynamic ideas on MH in Aus. This conference reflected that." -Anon


Consumer Think Tank

The first Consumer Think Tank was held on a Friday evening, at a cafe in North Melbourne. For a few hours, a group of consumers put our minds to solving the world's problems while working out what we wanted to eat or drink... Twas a lovely way to be together, sharing ideas with no fixed agenda.


Previous training:

Members of Our Consumer Place have been involved in training consumers and mental health workers (and future workers!) Some examples of the training we have conducted are: