ReAwaken ebook 1st Ed


A ebook that documents and celebrates ReAwaken Australia - compassion, connection and meaningful action of a wonderful community who came together to shift paradigms in mental health, trauma and addiction


Humane Clinic Projects: (Click on box to follow link)


These contributors have brought

the ReAwaken eBook to life in

the spirit of mutual connection.


ReAwaken Australia was made possible thanks to the generous support of our


Organizing partners:


National Empowerment Centre

Digital Eyes Film

Principal sponsors:


Uniting Communities

Gold level sponsors:

Uniting SA

Silver level sponsors:

Life without Barriers

SA mental Health commission


National Empowerment Centre (US)


Other sponsors:



Community Health Onkaparinga

Sunshine Coast Mind & Neuroscience Thompson Institute

Digital Eyes Film



Acknowledgement 6

ReAwaken – The Heart of the Matter 8

Forward 11

The story of ReAwaken Australia 14

The ReAwaken Manifesto for 16

Compassionate Change

Keynote Presentations 19

Projects at ReAwaken 44

The Meaning manual 45

The Turning point Project 102

Just Listening and Sidewalk Talk 140

Workshops and impromptu workshops 142

Community Connectors and Creatives 150

Reawaken and Digital Eyes 151

Meaningful Action: The Rally 152

ReAwaken Ripples 158


Ninna Marni

We would like to acknowledge that the land we met on, the land that birthed this book

and the land that bore witness to ReAwaken are the traditional lands of the Kaurna

people and that we respect their spiritual relationship with their country.

We acknowledge the Kaurna people as the traditional custodians of the Adelaide region

and respect the Kaurna people’s continuing cultural, spiritual, physical and emotional

connection with their land, waters and community.

We pay our respects to the elders of the past, the present and to those that are to come.

ReAwaken Australia

Published by HUMANE Clinic.

Adelaide, South Australia


First published 2020.

Cover images by Adam Gower @goweradam


YELLAKA — Old Wisdom New Ways

Opening Night we were joined by YELLAKA — Old Wisdom New Ways who offered

the Welcome to Country and opened ReAwaken with knowledge for all those



ReAwaken – The Heart of the Matter

For us ReAwaken is not a once off event. It is part of a larger movement and momentum

that is interested in healing what has gone so terribly wrong in our mental health and

addictions spaces and in our society more broadly. Human healing and societal healing

and even environmental healing only occurs in connection.

Our world is caught in a destructive vortex of disconnection. We are disconnected from

ourselves and our hearts and our spirits. We are disconnected from our neighbours. We

are disconnected from the land we live on. We are separated by labels of sick and

well and like me and not like me and the haves and have nots.

Many people attempt to reform and bring change from the top. Attempting to influence

government and policy. Many thousands of hours and many millions of dollars are spent

on this each year. It is my belief that change comes from the ground up. We change

through community. A ground swell of connection that sends a ripple of influence to

those around us.

Social change happens when those who were formerly oppressed are empowered, where

new narratives begin to emerge in our social spaces and only through community.

My motivation in bringing 110 people together for 4.5 days to find spaces of connection

and compassion was not to simply have a love-fest, it was that as we spent time together

things were stirred up in each of us that have allowed us to go back into our communities

and continue the focus on connection. Small and large projects have sprung up.

We have heard stories of transformation as people experienced themselves and others

differently during 4.5 days of not differentiating between 'sick and well', 'service users or

professionals'.... we were all simply humans sharing a space together thinking about what

it might be like to find our way more easily through this journey of life, if we could really

hear ourselves and each other more deeply.

There were tears and laughter and listening and challenge and talk about all manner of

things that are often taboo. What emerged was a deep space of acceptance that allowed

people to consider what might be possible in their own towns or cities, if we sat in spaces

of being together in mutuality.

At the heart of it all was the knowing that healing is a normal part of life when we come

together on the journey.

Stephanie and Matt



Founded in 2016 The HUMANE clinic is a space that values the autonomy and

empowerment of individuals and provides an alternative to diagnosis led approaches that

medicalise human distress. The HUMANE clinic’s approach seeks to understand and

accept a person as responding in an understandable way in response their unique

experience of being.

Understanding a human being as a unique, autonomous soul, acknowledgement is made

of the many ways an individual might perceive and experience mental distress or other

meaningful reality.

The HUMANE clinic values the human to human relationship as an opportunity for an

individual to develop meaning in their life, valuing the process of working through the

story of a person's experience.

Acknowledging that we cannot cure another person, or presume to know what is wrong

with another person, The HUMANE clinic takes the view that the individual should be the

arbiter of their own experiences, the author and teller of their own story and be in

control of their own life journey.

The HUMANE clinic therapeutic approach supports individuals and their networks who

are seeking to make sense of and work through difficulties and challenges. Counselling

and Psychotherapy can be useful to develop deeper understanding of the origins of our

distress and work towards personal meaning and empowerment.

ReAwaken Australia is a natural step on the path of the HUMANE clinic seeking to provide

as many different opportunities for people to connect and develop a compassionate

understanding of legitimate human experience.


Partnering with our friends and collaborators Oryx Cohen (National Empowerment Centre)

and PJ Moynihan (Digital Eyes Film) ReAwaken Australia was born and has provided a

platform to continue our approach of connection, compassion and meaningful action to

change in our communities.

The latest project from HUMANE Clinic, inspired by ReAwaken is the Centre for Human

Relations ( 2020 will see the Centre for Human Relations

deliver a Certificate in Psychotherapy Skills and Theory based in non-pathologizing

HUMANE approaches to understanding human distress and meaning alongside the

development of a national register of people working with people in HUMANE approaches.



Now five months post our first ReAwaken gathering in Adelaide, Australia, it still feels

quite present and even a part of me. But before I get in to ReAwaken, I’d like to take a

step back and reflect on how a few of us ended up on the other side of the world

reawakening our connection and compassion for each other, and leading to so many

meaningful actions.

For me it began 20 years ago, when I experienced my first altered state that some term

“psychosis.” Looking for alternatives to a western medical view that views these

experiences as meaningless and pathological, I found a vibrant mental health consumer/

survivor/ex-patient movement, what I like to call the Mad Pride Movement here in the

United States. It has been a privilege to work in this movement for over two decades

now, and during that time I have seen thousands of people, including myself, make

amazing transformations in their lives. People who have been written off by the rest of

society as “severely and chronically mentally ill,” who have reclaimed their lives and

identities, and are now activists, employees, healers, community leaders, home owners,

spouses, and loving parents. Witnessing and living this untold story of hope and healing,

and seeing how this flies in the face of the popular belief of chronic disease,

deterioration, and early death, I began to get interested in film, particularly

documentaries, as a medium that can convey such alternative narratives to a wide

audience. So when I met, PJ Moynihan, a professional filmmaker who had similar values,

but at the time was unfamiliar with our movement, it was like it was meant to be. Over

the course of about six years we produced a film called Healing Voices, which has been

opening up new, more hopeful ways of looking at mental health for tens of thousands of

people across the globe in a few short years since it was released.

In one small corner of the world in South Australia, Healing Voices has had perhaps its

largest impact with several screenings and inspiring the development of local initiatives,

including an alternative to emergency rooms, which is now becoming a reality. PJ and I

have been blessed to be able to befriend two of the principal leaders of these initiatives,

Matt Ball and Stephanie Mitchell of the Humane Clinic. And it is through this connection

that the meaningful action of the ReAwaken Conference was born.


I think a big part of what makes ReAwaken special is rooted first in the depth of

connection between the organizers. Through regular video chats, the four of us have

taken the time to really connect on a soul level. We have gotten to know each other’s

families and now we are family. Yes, we all share similar visions and values, but without

the truly amazing connection we have, ReAwaken could have been just another


Now to the conference itself. It was important to the organizers that ReAwaken was

inspired by the film Healing Voices, but not about the film. We all felt ReAwaken needed

to be its own thing. The basis of the ReAwaken concept is that our society is asleep in

many ways. We have been growing more and more disconnected from each other and

the environment and are now in some sort of collective psychosis. ReAwaken Australia

was to bring leaders from the mental health, trauma, and addiction fields to have an

open and honest dialogue about where we are at and where we should be going.

I’m happy to say we accomplished the goal of bringing these leaders together, but we

wanted to accomplish something more. We wanted to live this reawakening in real time.

This is why we chose a beautiful retreat center in the countryside rather then a hotel in

the city. This is why we chose to meet for a full week and discourage attending for just

one day. This is why we chose to limit the number of participants. This is why we limited

the number of presentations and encouraged every presenter to include an interactive

component. This is why we included film presentations followed by dialogues each

evening. This is why we had so many creative outlets, free time, and opportunities to

connect. This is why we had the home groups for people to connect with throughout the

conference. This is why the organizers decided to live communally in “The Den” right on

the conference site, which was such a beautiful, connected, and fun experience. This is

why we chose the themes of connection, compassion, and meaningful action. And I think

this is why ReAwaken still lives and breathes in my veins and I am brought to tears just

writing this. Because ReAwaken went beyond my hopes and dreams and my soul

connection went beyond our core group of organizers to literally all 110 people who

attended. I have never experienced anything like it. Yet I think what I experienced there

is what all humans crave and what we have lost as we have moved from living tribally and

communally to industrialized and profoundly disconnected.


I hope as you read this book that you too are inspired by it, our Manifesto, and other

meaningful actions, and it leads you to create your own ReAwaken events that will lead

to more amazing connections and meaningful actions. To me ReAwaken goes way

beyond just mental health, trauma, and addiction. To me the future of humanity

depends on this reawakening.

Oryx Cohen


The story of ReAwaken Australia

The story of ReAwaken really begins with the film ‘Healing Voices’, produced by Digital

Eyes Film. HUMANE Clinic Co-Directors Matt and Stephanie watched the film and

subsequently ran a successful film screening of ‘Healing Voices’. From there, skype

conversations with PJ (Digital Eyes Film), Oryx (Chief Operating Officer, National

Empowerment Center), Matt and Stephanie gave birth to the idea of creating a mental

health conference. HUMANE Clinic is committed to changing the conversation and

REAWAKEN could demonstrate the power of connection, compassion and meaningful

action to this change

With Matt, Stephanie, PJ and Oryx, the organising leaders began. Many plans evolved

and PJ, along with his colleague (and cousin) Ben Caron, filmed daily at ReAwaken, as well

as conducting interviews with attendees and speakers in preparation for a documentary

about the event.

The vision of ReAwaken is that mental health, trauma and addiction experiences do not

occur in isolation. ReAwaken as a movement explores the knowledge base and

experiential journey of social connection, compassion and meaningful action. These three

themes underpin the spirit and value of the workshops and all other aspects of Reawaken


ReAwaken Australia was the first event in a series of international events around these

themes. The event was hosted by HUMANE Clinic in collaboration with the National

Empowerment Centre (USA) and Digital Eyes Film. ReAwaken Australia offered spaces for

learning and hearing from presenters, as well as a collective space for hearing from each

other as a community. All presentations offered a reflective space within their workshops

and twice daily community forums were held to bring together ideas from the conference

community. ReAwaken is founded on the belief that change occurs within communities of

support and mutual influence. A central aim of ReAwaken Australia was for the

conference community to move together towards meaningful and tangible outcomes

that each of us could take home to our own communities. This is reflected in the

ReAwaken Manifesto. The conference also aimed to empower people to stay connected

within the communities they created at the conference, to continue to build momentum

for change and social support.



The ReAwaken Manifesto for Compassionate Change

As part of the meaningful action aspect of ReAwaken, the need to carry forward the

messages and meaning found in the ReAwaken community were important. The concept

of the Manifesto was inspired by the work of Mary O’Hagan and the Manifesto she

produced in New Zealand. However, this document was intended to capture the

experience of the attendees each day as they were invited to reflect on the keynote and

other workshops for the day to provide input into the document that evolved during the

ReAwaken week.

The intention was to ensure that input into the document was available to all and

everyone who attended and heard a narrative at the event. The themes of connection

and compassion were central and the Manifesto was a positive way of ensuring

meaningful action that could be freely available to wider communities seeking more

humane , non pathologising ways to find connection and compassion in supporting one

another on mutual journey of mental health , trauma and addiction.

The ReAwaken Manifesto was born out of a week-long gathering of international leaders

in mental health, addiction, and trauma at the inaugural ReAwaken conference,

ReAwaken Australia, which took place 8-12 April, 2019 in Adelaide, South Australia. The

manifesto reflects the collective work and vision of these leaders. ReAwaken recognizes

that our society is asleep in many ways, more isolated than ever from each other and the

environment, which has led to ineffective and often harmful polices and practices in the

fields of mental health, trauma and addiction. We call for a great reawakening of the

human spirit, a reclaiming of our narratives, and a reconnection with our fellow travellers

and the earth. We know this is possible because we have achieved this in one short week,

having created a beautiful, safe, inclusive, and loving community in one small corner of

the world.

As a call to action, we express a critical need for connection, compassion, and meaningful

response to these issues, which affect our lives, our families, and our communities. We

call on political leaders and citizens to hear our collective voice, and to take action in a

manner consistent with our shared desire to promote the health and welfare of the


* ReAwaken deeply thanks Oryx Cohen for his skills and humanity in crafting the Manifesto document from the hearts and

spirit of the ReAwaken attendees


Manifesto for compassionate change

The ReAwaken community acknowledges that this document was developed on the lands of the Kaurna people and we respect the

spiritual relationship with their country. We acknowledge the Kaurna people as the traditional custodians of the Adelaide region and

pay respect to elders past and present.

We are guided by a set of core beliefs and values that include:

1) The current medical model is not working, in fact data suggests that since the

introduction of the biomedical approach to mental health and addiction, these very

conditions have skyrocketed;

2) Healing happens through connected relationships and in community;

3) The importance of all aspects of intersectionality, including that mental health, trauma,

and addiction are universal and interconnected;

4) There is no sick and no well, only a continuum of human experience;

5) People’s pain does not occur in a vacuum, instead it is often caused by greater societal

problems such as poverty, violence, environmental destruction, broken institutions, etc.

6) People who have been labeled with mental health conditions, addiction problems,

and/or trauma survivors have wisdom in their experience and need to be deeply

listened to;

7) Experiences labeled as “psychotic” or “pathological” actually have meaning and have the

potential to be explored and integrated into people’s lives as a part of the healing


8) Policies should be guided by people with lived experience (Nothing about us without


9) Every human is a whole person with the potential to heal and contribute to their

communities in meaningful ways;

10) We value self-determination or our right to choose what is best for us, including taking

or not taking drugs/medications;

11) Our communities are safer, more sustainable, and more enjoyable places to live when

every person is valued, supported, and listened to.


Rooted in these beliefs and values, ReAwaken has the following aims:

1) A great shift from a medical focus on “fixing” individuals to transforming oppressive

social structures in to healing communities where all people are valued;

2) In shifting to a social perspective, we recognize true causes of emotional distress and

addiction include intergenerational trauma, child abuse, sexual violence, bullying,

family violence, poverty, racism, and environmental destruction;

3) The creation of a vast array of programs, services, and communities where we stop

putting people in to silos, but instead where authentic connection and compassion

for others and the environment is central;

4) Shifting our culture to honor and learn from diverse people and perspectives,

including indigenous peoples, rather than a one size fits all colonial approach;

5) The creation of polices that allow people to discover what works for them in the

context of healing communities rather than having treatments imposed upon them.

The ReAwaken Manifesto was born out of a week-long gathering of international

leaders in mental health, addiction, and trauma at the inaugural ReAwaken conference,

ReAwaken Australia, which took place 8-12 April, 2019 in Adelaide, South Australia. The

manifesto reflects the collective work and vision of these leaders. ReAwaken recognizes that

our society is asleep in many ways, more isolated than ever from each other and the

environment, which has led to ineffective and often harmful polices and practices in the fields

of mental health, trauma and addiction. We call for a great reawakening of the human spirit, a

reclaiming of our narratives, and a reconnection with our fellow travelers and the earth. We

know this is possible because we have achieved this in one short week, having created a

beautiful, safe, inclusive, and loving community in one small corner of the world.

As a call to action, we express a critical need for connection, compassion, and

meaningful response to these issues, which affect our lives, our families, and our communities.

We call on political leaders and citizens to hear our collective voice, and to take action in a

manner consistent with our shared desire to promote the health and welfare of the populace.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this Manifesto may not be endorsed or shared by everyone who has attended Reawaken events.


Keynote Presentations

Matt Ball - Dissociachotic: Seeing the non-psychosis that

we share

Dissociachotic is about coming to understand the dissociative nature

of what is usually called psychosis and seeing how psychosis

evaporates within the context of safe relational spaces.

Matt Ball is a Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, psychotherapist,

trainer and Co-Director at the HUMANE Clinic. He is interested in

'psychosis', trauma and human to human responses to personal

distress and meaning. Matt was awarded the 2017 Australian

Mental Health Nurse of the Year for his work in this area.

To watch this keynote address click here

Stephanie Mitchell - Compassion for “Borderline"

Coming from a place of compassion when working with people

often labelled with “Borderline Personality Disorder” should be

the basis of all clinical and non-clinical practice. Unfortunately individuals

with diagnosises of BPD are often some of the most maligned

in our health services. In this workshop we consider the

attachment needs and legitimately adaptive behaviour of individuals

who have often experienced complex trauma and significant

attachment disruption in early life. Participate in conversations

around responsive and compassionate approaches to understanding and being alongside

individuals experiencing deep distress.

Stephanie Mitchell is a Co-Director of the HUMANE Clinic and a psychotherapist who specializes

in working with people who have experienced complex trauma and labels of

'borderline personality disorder' and 'psychosis'. Stephanie has extensive experience facilitating

therapeutic groups and is interested in how healing occurs in the human to human


To watch this keynote address click here


Oryx Cohen - The wisdom of wounded healers

As a human species, we are currently experiencing a global crisis:

we are destroying our planet, we are killing each other, physical

and sexual abuse are pandemic, and suicide rates are at an all

time high. In this interactive keynote workshop we will explore

how profound disconnection may be at the root of this crisis and

how healing can come from an unexpected source: The Wounded


Oryx Cohen, is a leader in the international mental health

consumer/survivor/ex-patient (c/s/x) and is currently the Chief Operating Officer of the

National Empowerment Center (NEC). Oryx is both the co-producer and subject, in the

award winning documentary HEALING VOICES. Oryx speaks and conducts trainings

nationally and internationally on such topics as Hearing Voices, Trauma, and Recovery

and is a lead trainer for Emotional CPR.

To watch this keynote click here

PJ Moynihan - Constructing (and de-constructing) social

mythology through media

Media is powerful, and shapes our relationship to everything

from the products we consume, to social issues, to our sense of

self worth, and even how we relate to one another. Media builds

temples. It also destroys them. In the information age, our ability

to consciously dissect and consume media-driven information is a

crucial, refined skill. This original interactive workshop/

presentation from Digital Eyes Film explores the origins of our contemporary mental

health, addiction, and trauma narratives in western culture, including the ways and

means by which embedded ideologies can be deconstructed through media and social

action, in order to improve public health conditions in our communities and society-atlarge.

PJ Moynihan is founder and CEO of Digital Eyes Film, a full services media company

specializing in social impact documentary, feature films, and independent distribution. He

is the award winning writer, director and producer of HEALING VOICES and RECOVERING


To watch this keynote click here


Prof. Bernard Guerin - Contextualizing ‘mental health’

behaviours, talking and thinking: Turning mental health


Psychology and psychiatry have always explained human behaviour

as arising from within a person, and this is implicit in current

models of mental health and interventions. When we expand our

ideas and observations of people’s external worlds to include the

social, economic, patriarchal, cultural, and opportunity contexts in

which they are embedded, we can view mental health issues as

arising from painful or stressful situations in which a person has become trapped. To

intervene, we must change the person’s contexts (where we can) rather than superficially

treat them as internal problems or brain diseases.

Bernard Guerin is Professor of Psychology at the University of South Australia, where he

teaches social and community behaviour, language and discourse, and social science

interventions. He has published eight books and his research has focused on working

alongside communities, in partnership with Indigenous Australian, Māori, Somali refugee,

and migrant communities.

Indigo Daya - A Clarion Call: Stop Hurting, Start Helping!

The time is NOW. After decades of activism, the consumer/survivor

movement is in a period of bright and creative growth. We will no

longer accept being passive recipients. We will call out systemic

abuses. We have unparalleled expertise and drive. In this

passionate talk, Indigo will reflect on the themes of Reawaken

Australia, and her experience from 14 years of consumer/survivor

activism. What CAN we do? What MUST we do?

Indigo Daya is Human Rights advisor at Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council

(VMIAC) and a Research Fellow at the Melbourne Social Equity Institute. She has lived

experience of trauma, madness and coercive mental health services, and has used her

experiences in leadership roles across the mental health sector, academia and

government for over fourteen years.

To watch this keynote click here


Monya Murch - Reconnect and rehumanise, a response

to the impact of trauma and addiction

Any addiction is a secondary issue that comes out of a primary

problem. Addiction does not happen in a vacuum. Our mainstream

approaches to addiction are often limiting and can be

unhelpful in the long-term when their primary focus is on addiction and users being ‘the

problem’, rather than understanding the behaviours as adaptations to, or symptoms of,

(deep) discomfort or a hostile environment. The talk will aim to allow space for conversations

around the impact of trauma, the possibility of reconnection, and the importance

to re-claim one’s humanity.

Monya Murch has a background in social sciences, later specialising in addiction, traumainformed

practice and perinatal mental health. Monya is currently working with individuals

and families experiencing gambling-related harm and severe mental distress. She also

facilitates weekly therapeutic groups.

Jo Watson - A call to action

Challenging the illness myth promoted by western psychiatry that

uses invalid constructs to pathologise people’s pain and survival

strategies, Jo will share how she has personally experienced moving

from isolation and hopelessness to feeling part of a massive movement

for change. She will tell her story about how joining with allies

in activism was the only congruent way forward for her personally,

politically and professionally and will encourage others to consider whether the same

could apply to them.

Jo Watson is a psychotherapist and activist with a history in the U.K. Rape Crisis movement

of the 1990s. She has worked therapeutically for the last 24 years with those who

have been victims of sexual abuse/violence and has campaigned on women’s survivor

issues for the past 3 decades. Jo actively challenges the biomedical model of ‘mental

health’, arguing that emotional distress and suffering is primarily a result of what people

have experienced, which all too often arises within social injustices that need to be

named. Jo is the organizer of the one day event A Disorder For Everyone! with Dr Lucy

Johnstone and is part of the Mad in the U.K. team. Jo is also a founding member of

‘United for Integrity in Mental Health’ (UIMH) (launched in 2019) and creator of the Drop

the Disorder! Facebook group.


Arrivals from America — Reawaken partners Oryx Cohen and PJ Moynihan (above)

Matt Ball and Stephanie Mitchell fooling around with last minute checklists (below).


Pre-conference preparations at the HUMANE Clinic.


Turning Point and Meaning Manual creation space.


Oryx Cohen delivering his keynote presentation (above) and South Australian

Mental Health Commissioner, Chris Burns, offering his support and

encouragement for the ReAwaken alternative in mental health, addiction and

trauma (below).


Home groups: building community and connection through reflection on keynotes and

workshops. An alternative to relentless presentations and the conference

treadmill. Making sense of new learnings through connection, towards meaningful action.


MC David Mitchell (above). Daily panels bringing together all the workshops and speakers

to reconnect the community in a space of reflection, at the end of each day (below).


Professor Bernard Guerin—exploring environment internal and external. Bernard is a local

South Australian Professor who is moving the conversation towards meaning making and

away from the diagnostic narrative (above). Group discussion and question time with

todays presenters (below)


Coffee break discussions and connections - Joe Callejah and Sarah Atkins

(above). Evening film screenings followed by group discussion about bringing

change as we go forward (below)


Kane and Klaire present an overview of the Power Threat Meaning

Framework (above). Cherie and Amanda present about Peer Supported Open

Dialogue (below)


Relationship, relationship, relationship. The heart of ReAwaken


Spaces and environment creating community connection –

Learnings for the mental health system?


Activists and collaborators Indigo, Ellie, Oryx, Stephanie and Matt (Above) Producer,

Director and wonderful human—PJ Moynihan delivers a key note on

Deconstructing mythology of addiction (below).


Monya Murch—Reconnecting and Rehumanising in the addiction space—understanding

with compassion and connection (above). Filming for the ReAwaken documentary (below)


International friendships developed through coming together to talk about our lives, the

lives of our communities and the spirit of new connections.


Impromptu ReAwaken awards — Celebrating awesome people for being awesome.

Presentation to community member Tracey Booth (above).

HUMANE Clinic Co-Directors Matt Ball and Stephanie Mitchell (below).


Evenings in ‘The Den’ - During ReAwaken, the event co-ordinators bunked in together in

the spirit of community. Sharing our lives together deepened connection for the holding

space of ReAwaken. Here we are working late into the night on the ReAwaken Manifesto.


Hanging in connection. Making friends, sharing stories and being in community. Prioritising

connection. ReAwaken was more about hearing each other than hearing speakers.


Preparations to expose the evidence. Getting ready for Indigo Daya to share her

wisdom and knowledge (above). Speakers preparing (below)


The Great Debate:

To stay asleep or


hosted by

Amanda Waegili

The ‘Stay asleep’


The ‘ReAwaken



The final day, before the rally. Coming together to close the circle of connection and

compassion and reflect on our mutual journeys, before we headed off to the Rally on

Parliament steps


Getting ready to head to Parliament steps with the ReAwaken Manifesto (above) So much

fun making up slogans for our banners (below).


The Meaning Manual:

Projects at ReAwaken

Re-writing the DSM - an interactive art project

This Art project aims to transform an old DSM to capture the narratives

and meaning behind human distress. The Diagnostic and Statistical

Manual for Mental Disorders or more commonly known as the DSM is

written by Psychiatrists and medical professionals to label and diagnose

people. The Meaning Manual will be created by the community for the

community to capture alternate explanations of distress including the

complexity, meaning and hope of the human experience. We invite all

community members to choose a page from the DSM to transform by

using altered art journaling techniques. Local artists will be available to

assist you to paint, draw, stick, write, stamp, collage and create your way

through this transformational process. All levels of creativity are

welcome. The Meaning Manual will be placed on display at the Reawaken

festival and at other events in the future to facilitate conversations

around this new narrative crafted by our community.

The Turning Point Project:

Documenting personal stories of change and transformation

The inspiration for the Turning Point Project, came to Ross from reading

other people’s stories and an acknowledgement of how powerful and

transformative that was for his own recovery. This project is an

opportunity for participants of Reawaken to come together and share

personal experiences in community. While it will acknowledge the

darkness in people lives and the world, ultimately, it will be a compilation

of gems, reflecting the many facets of recovery. This collaboratively

produced document seeks to connect us with ourselves and each other,

and in this process help create healing and positive change.


The Meaning Manual: re-writing the DSM - an interactive art


The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, more commonly known as

the DSM, is written by Psychiatrists and medical professionals to label and diagnose

people. This Art project aims to transform an old DSM to capture the narratives and

meaning behind human distress. The Meaning Manual will be created by the community

for the community to capture alternate explanations of distress including the complexity,

meaning and hope of the human experience.

We invite all community members to choose a page from the DSM to transform by using

altered art journaling techniques. Local artists will be available to assist you to paint,

draw, stick, write, stamp, collage and create your way through this transformational

process. All levels of creativity are welcome. The Meaning Manual will be placed on

display at the Reawaken festival and at other events in the future to facilitate

conversations around this new narrative being crafted by our community.

The Meaning Manual is facilitated by Jane Ellis. Jane is first and

foremost a human being. Jane is a passionate Acro Yogi and an

active community member who enjoys fancy tea and cheese.

Through her personal experiences and life journey including trauma

and childhood trauma she has developed a strong passion for

advocacy, human rights, creative community engagement and

trauma. Jane has a background in crisis support work, peer work

and systemic advocacy at a local level and in mental Health Policy

within the consumer and carer spaces. Jane has recently won the

role of Consumer Consultant for Uniting SA in an advocacy, community engagement and

lived experience workforce development role.


The Meaning Manual at


The Meaning Manual (TMM) is a collection of explanations, stories and narratives

behind Mental Illness human distress.

You’re invited to transform a page from the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM) of

Mental Illness with your own narrative, explanation or story.

Some guiding questions to help create your new narrative:

Think about a disorder/ label of Mental Illness you would like to transform and


This may be from your personal story or more broadly.

Consider an alternate story, narrative or message you would like to express in

place of the label from the label you have chosen.

Explore words, sentences or images that may help express the meaning, story,

narrative or message.

You are welcome to express your new narrative/explanation/story on top of the

DSM page in any way you like, it may be a:





Written poem


Comic strip

Let your imagination go wild….

























































The Turning Point Project

The inspiration for the Turning Point Project came to Ross from reading other people’s

stories and an acknowledgement of how powerful and transformative that was for his

own recovery. This project is an opportunity for participants of Reawaken to come

together and share personal experiences in community. While it will acknowledge the

darkness in people lives and the world, ultimately, it will be a compilation of gems,

reflecting the many facets of recovery.

This collaboratively produced document seeks to connect us with ourselves and each

other, and in this process help create healing and positive change.

Ross Marshall is a Peer Support Worker for Uniting SA. He has a

passion for working with people, and does this in his current

role by walking alongside individuals who are engaged with the

South Australian public mental health system. Being in

relationship with others and the mutual learning that takes

place - using our Lived Experience - is what keeps Ross

motivated. Being part of Reawaken is consistent with his

commitment to building community; A community where

vulnerability is viewed as a strength and power imbalances are

acknowledged and used for good, encouraging people to realise

their abilities and giving them the freedom to make choices.







































Just listening is simple – two people sitting or standing together, a listener and a person

with a story to share. This approach can be facilitated anywhere, any time and in any

community. Just Listening aims to demonstrate the value of connection through listening

and being heard.

Listening can offer justice to both the person narrating their personal reality and to the

person listening. In the process of deep listening we hear both ourselves and the other

person and can honour the truth of each person.

Just Listening is a free community listening project that seeks to offer justice in listening

and connection through this meaningful action.

At ReAwaken a Just Listening station was established, consisting of two chairs and a Just

Listening banner. Participants were encouraged to take up one of these chairs at any

stage during the week if they felt like being a listener, thereby inviting anyone that had

something to share to sit down and tell their story. While Just Listening can take place in

any setting, the themes covered during the week long conference meant that this

opportunity to share, be heard, listen and connect were particularly valuable for people.

Along with just listening, we also had the lovely listeners from Sidewalk Talk lending some

ears. Jeff Simmons, Paul Shultz, Sharon McGann and Debbie Dunn. The Sidewalk Talk sign

and chairs were set up on the lawns in front of the Monastery. With the same invitation

from the organisers to go and talk with Jeff, Debbie, Paul or Sharon whenever they felt


Sidewalk Talk is not in anyway associated with Just Listening, but is under the same

concept. “Two San Francisco therapists shared a vision: to help heal that which

divides us through the fine art of skilled listening. ” Extract from https://


Side Walk Talk to Just Listening. Doing it anyway as

South Australia offers its own version of the US

approach to hearing with justice and intention


Workshops and Impromptu Workshops

While ReAwaken hosted speakers from around Australia and the world, there was also

the opportunity for anyone attending ReAwaken to run their own ’impromptu workshop’

alongside those offered by the pre-planned speakers. Spaces and time were allocated to

be flexible for anyone that had an idea to put their hand up.

In keeping with the theme of ReAwaken, creating connection through meaningful action,

the impromptu workshop concept invited people to facilitate a workshop that they had

not applied to host before the event. The idea, taken from the Working to Recovery camp

in 2015, intentionally supported people who might have been inspired or evoked by another

workshop at ReAwaken to host a workshop of their own.

As such, time was made available in the program and a proforma document was developed

to support first time presenters or anyone who wanted a framework to support

their impromptu workshop.

The spirit of ReAwaken meant that embracing whatever arose for people was the most

important experience we could share. For this reason impromptu workshops had both

symbolic and practical value. One might also consider that the impromptu narratives that

emerged between attendees formed something of a community workshop for the 5

days—learnings shared and carried onwards.

The pre-planned workshops that were offered during ReAwaken Australia are detailed in

the following pages.


Cherie McGregor - Academia is a vital tool for Lived

Experience systems-change activism

The mental health system is driven by a commitment to evidencebased

practice which prioritises knowledge produced

through academic research and published in peer reviewed

journals. Academia is also responsible for the education and

qualification of the health professionals, researchers and policy

makers that guide decision-making and service delivery in the

mental health system. For these reasons it is essential that Lived

Experience systems change activists have a recognizable voice in the research and

education. This interactive workshop will explore the role that activism in the academic

space can play in further driving Lived Experience systems change agendas.

Chérie McGregor is currently the Consumer Services Coordinator for the Sunshine Coast

Mind and Neuroscience Thompson Institute. Chérie is also a Lived Experience systems

change advocate in the public mental health system, a Lived Experience academic and

works in commissioning mental health services for a regional PHN.

Andrew Fort – Psychiatric drug withdrawal, listening to

the voices of (Lived) Experience

Psychiatric drugs can be helpful in many people’s experience,

whilst others have found them either ineffective, or quite harmful.

Many people are looking for support to reduce or come off their

psychiatric drugs, or to help them deal with existing withdrawal

effects from these drugs. Finding this support can be really

challenging. Many prescribers don’t understand the potential

intensity of these experiences; misunderstanding them as signs of

relapse, or symptoms of another ‘illness’, or labelling people seeking this support as ‘noncompliant’

or lacking insight.

Andrew works in private practice to support people seeking to negotiate these

challenging experiences. While the ‘evidence’ presents narratives of mild, short-term

‘discontinuation syndrome', Andrew sees and hears the diversity of people's experience.

Andrew is a Mental Health Nurse Practitioner and therapist, committed to finding gentler

ways to help people in distress. He has a particular interest in experiences commonly

called ‘psychosis’, and in the healing power of human connection and relationship.


Liz Asser - Self directed recovery: User’s manual

Often when we find ourselves overcome by life and its

circumstances we can experience a disconnection from self which

manifests in periods of emotional distress, substance abuse and

destruction of relationships with others and ourselves. This is

often why we seek help from family, friends, counsellors or other

professionals. Realising this about ourselves can be powerful in

transforming how we self direct our recovery process. This session will explore

developing your own Wellness and Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) to determine your

goals and values and give thought to how these might be realized using what you know

has worked for you and discovering new ways of being your authentic self.

Liz Asser has been a teacher for over 25 years and currently teaches Mental Health Peer

Work at TAFE in Queensland. Liz is passionate about advocacy for person centred support

services and the employment of peer support workers. Liz’s practice as a trainer,

counsellor and champion of self determination is informed by her own lived experience

and diagnosis.

Joanne Newman - Trauma, hearing voices & becoming a

compassionate agent of change

In this workshop, Joanne will explore her journey of becoming an

agent of change, sharing what she found helpful and what has

helped others in their journey towards healing. This included the

important role of self-compassion and compassionate responses to

the experience of human distress. Joanne is a lived experience

educator, activist and advocate. She has experience of trauma,

emotional distress and hearing voices and received the burden of a psychiatric diagnosis

at age 19. Healing for her is a personal, ongoing journey, of which hearing voices is an

integral part. Discovering the Hearing Voices Movement and being a moderator with

“Drop the Disorder!” have been influential in this journey.

Joanne Newman works part-time at Edith Cowan University (ECU) in the Bunbury Mental

Health Unit as a Lived Experience Educator for Social Work. Joanne has also been a

consultant at ECU - Joondalup within Occupational Therapy and was a prime developer of

an ECU film project. She has contributed to academic research & presented at several



Ellie Hodges - Lived Experience: what does it even mean?

So often the path to liberation is divided as different needs take

priority. This talk will explore what is meant by “lived experience”,

peer work and the plethora of clinical and professional labels that

lead to the division of people in the mental health, trauma and

addiction environments. Participants will be encouraged to think

about how we can work towards a shared goal of compassion and

connection while rejecting deficit based approaches. The

workshop will focus on our common values and shared beliefs,

and how we can all be heard in journeys of recovery and hope.

Ellie has worked for twenty years in the community and mental health sectors as a

community development lead, therapeutic practitioner, manager, educator, advisor,

strategy/policy worker and consultant. For the past three years she has been an active

lived experience representative, leader and speaker at state and national level. Ellie

founded the Lived Experience Leadership & Advocacy Network (LELAN).

Matt Ball and Stephanie Mitchell - Do it anyway

The discussion since the beginning of the consumer movement has been about how we

shift systems and institutions towards personal recovery. But has the time come to ask –

should we still invite the institutions of psychiatry and

politics to be part of the conversation of human

distress, mental health, trauma and addiction?

Taking action is the process by which we can feel and

experience the spirit of Cesar Chevez when he stated:

“Once social change begins it cannot be reversed, you

cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read.

You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You

cannot oppress the people who are not afraid any more. We have seen the future and the

future is ours.”

Do It Anyway will explore having an idea and enacting it towards social change. From

Healing Voices to Re-Awaken Australia – making change happen is a priority.

Matt Ball and Stephanie Mitchell are Co-Directors of HUMANE Clinic. There is more

information about Matt and Stephanie in the Keynote Presentation section.


Suicide – Do we even know what we are doing about it?

As the world embraces the public health crisis of suicide, many of the same models of

crisis intervention are being shaped towards a narrative of zero suicide. This work shop

will invite discussion and collaboration on some of the following questions:

Why do we always forget the human suffering of the suicidal experience?

Should the focus shift from crisis management to formulating understanding of the

origins of suicide as well as crisis support?

How do we talk more openly about suicide in relation to trauma and addiction

without applying restrictive mental health approaches?

How do we keep connection and compassion as the central themes while being with a

person in distress around ending their life?

Amber Rules - The importance of Supporting the Whole Family When

Addiction is Present

Historically, support and treatment for people who use substances

or experience process/behavioural addictions (such as gambling) has

frequently been provided solely to the using-person. Research

indicates that treatment outcomes for the using-person improve

when family members also receive psycho-education and

counselling. Through the lens of the Re-Awaken themes, this

workshop will look at the following: The importance of connection

between self, the family system, “professional” supports and

community as vital components of change; the role of compassion

toward self, others and toward the phenomenon of addiction in the healing journey; the

path toward safe, thoughtful and meaningful action for individuals, families, community

members and clinicians who are impacted by addiction; Practical, applicable strategies to

support change and healing, whether you are an individual, family member or clinician

(or all three).

Amber Rules is a Sydney-based psychotherapist and counsellor who works with

individuals and families impacted by substance use and potentially addictive behaviours

(such as gambling). Amber specialises in support and education for family members. She

has lived experience of family addiction and intergenerational trauma, and draws on this

in her clinical practice.


Judith de Lang - Revisiting the forgotten ACE Outcomes

Is it possible to achieve meaningful progress for a client with a

history of childhood trauma in three workplace-mandated

sessions? This workshop uses a case study to demonstrate the

impact of The Bower Place Model genogram and explores the

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) questionnaire . During the

workshop, participants will be able to discover their own ACE score

as well as a powerful way of connecting with a client while

composing a unique style of genogram.

Judith de Lang has a Doctorate in Counselling and is particularly excited by emerging

research in the area of neuro-plasticity. The evidence from this field highlights the urgent

need for trauma-informed practice across all human service agencies. Judith is currently

employed in a government regional health service where she undertakes various roles as

clinician, educator, consultant and supervisor.

Amanda Waegeli and Chérie McGregor - The PEER in Peer Supported Open


In the mid-1980s, Open Dialogue was developed as an alternative to treatment-as-usual

for psychosis in Western Lapland, Finland. The model has been so successful it has

become the standard mental health treatment in the region and is gaining momentum

internationally. Intentional Peer Support has emerged internationally as a powerful peer

support framework since it was founded in the USA in the 1990s. These two approaches

are combined in facilitating Peer Supported Open Dialogue to offer a powerful

combination of tools and philosophies to rethink how we connect and include family and

friends in supporting people experiencing extreme distress and unshared realities. There

is a strong alignment between the values that are commonly recognised as 'peer ethos'

and Open Dialogue. This interactive workshop will explore the underpinning values and

identify the vital role that peer support plays in facilitating an open dialogue process

when supporting people who experience the effects of trauma addiction and mental

distress. In this workshop participants will have the opportunity to learn some of the

skills of Peer Supported Open Dialogue. The call to meaningful action will be an invitation

to workshop participants to take these skills and use them in their everyday interactions

with family, friends and the people they work with.


Maggie Toko & Becky Myers - 2 Nations Yarning and Korero about

indigenous women's mental health

Maggie Toko is a Maori woman from Aotearoa. She is the CEO of

the Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council and has a lived

experience of mental health. Maggie is passionate about human

rights and has made a life time commitment to fight injustice

whenever she can.

Becky Myers is an aboriginal Arrernte

women from Alice Springs living in

Adelaide, currently working as Case

Worker in Mental Health & Disability and Drug and Alcohol

misuses. Becky is very passionate about the rights of all people,

loves the work she does for aboriginal women dealing with

Mental Health and is very committed to support those in need.

Michael Sheehan - Whatever happened to hope-inspiring environments?

The compassion deficit in mental health care.

Current mental health policy and practice does not appear to

prioritise the development of compassionate contexts, as

evidenced by a wide imbalance of power in mental health

services, a lack of tolerance for ‘difference’ and an imperative to

deal decisively with ‘problematic’ clients. Additionally political

and societal concerns prioritise the need to control risk and

uncertainty, resulting in an inherently coercive mental health

framework. The alternative is to create compassionate and hope-inspiring environments

in which people experiencing mental distress can develop their own unique ways of

accepting and living with (or recovering from) their mental health difficulties.

Michael Sheehan is currently Executive Director at Relationships Australia Western

Australia and oversees its Family Mental Health, Domestic Violence and Child Contact

Services. For over 25 years, he has held senior management positions within the

community services sector. His skills and experience include policy development and

review, clinical supervision, university lecturing and liaising with government and non–

government agencies and various key reference groups.


Amanda Waegeli - The Great Debate: To Re Awaken or Stay Asleep

To reawaken is the act of awaking from sleep. A revival of interest or

attention. A recognition, realization, or coming into awareness of

something, either personal or as a community. And yet, with this

revival and opportunity for growth comes discomfort; the painful

awareness of how messed up the world is and that some

relationships can not be sustained. So why rock the boat? Perhaps

we’re better off not making a fuss about reawakening. Perhaps it’s better to accept things

as they are and to try and find some peace in our slumber. Haven’t we suffered enough?

Facilitated by Amanda, two debating teams will explore these issues and present their

arguments to either reawaken or to stay asleep.

Amanda is a lived experience practioner, who has worked in the Mental Health sector in

various roles for over ten years. She uses her own lived experiences of mental distress

and personal recovery to influence change and improvement in mental health practice.

She has her own successful private business; Mental Health Recovery Training and


Klaire McClorey and Kane Spooner - Power Threat Meaning Framework

Over a five-year period, a group of senior

psychologists from the UK, in collaboration with

service users and campaigners, have developed the

Power Threat Meaning Framework (PTMF) as an

alternative model to traditional psychiatric diagnosis

for making sense of people's life challenges. The

Framework doesn't just apply to people who have

been engaged with mental health services - it applies

to all of us! PTMF summarises and integrates a great deal of evidence about the role of

various kinds of power in people’s lives, the kinds of threats that misuse of power pose to

us and the ways we have learnt to respond to those threats. This workshop will provide a

brief overview of the model and an exercise to help you get a taste for how it might be

applied in practice.

Klaire McClorey and Kane Spooner were Social Work students completing their final

placement with the HUMANE Clinic at the time of ReAwaken. During their placement

they attended a two-day PTMF workshop with co-authors of the model, Lucy Johnstone

and John Cromby.


Community Connectors and Creatives

Yellaka - Cultural ceremony

Formed in 2015 by Karl Winda Telfer and Sonia Waters, Yellaka - 'Old

Wisdom New Ways' was created to transfer ancient Aboriginal

cultural knowledge to our young people. Yellaka provides

opportunities for young people to engage in cultural practice

including story, dance, language, song, cultural camps and walking

country. Yellaka's 16 dancers perform regularly at cultural, community, and major

corporate events and have collaborated widely across Adelaide including the Adelaide

Festival, Adelaide Fringe, AFL Indigenous Round, Tour Down Under, Adelaide Symphony

Orchestra, Ed Sheeran, RCC & the 68th International Astronautical Conference.


A contemporary acoustic covers duo comprised of Elyse on vocals

and Luke on the guitar.

Rob de Kok - A poetry reading of original works

Rob is a poet, writer, performer, documentary film maker and

stage director. His works have been published by SAWC,

Heinemann Books, Oxford University Press, Friendly Street Poets,

Wakefield Press, The Weekend Australian Magazine, The Broadkill

Review, eMags in Australia and overseas and on travel blogs. Rob

has taught Professional Writing, Poetry, Short Story, Creative Nonfiction,

Film, Stage and Memoir writing at various South Australian tertiary institutions, in

workshops for the Australian Writers' Guild and the South Australian Writers' Centre and

for community groups. With his partner Sue, Rob runs Rosebud Writing Workshops in the

Adelaide Hills. He continues to write and assists other to self-publish.

Salt & Earth

A genre-bending duet with a passion for social change. Sandy and

Marduk play original tunes inspired by folk, jazz, soul and

flamenco music and covers with a message.


Digital Eyes Film

Digital Eyes Film was founded in 2003, less than

one year after I graduated from Columbia

University. I did not study film and had no intention

to produce media as a career path. I was a writer

goddammit. But life had other plans. And through a

series of misadventures, I discovered a joy for

shooting and editing and began to cobble together

short films. I had been telling stories in one form or

another my entire life, so in ways it was a natural

progression. Concurrently, documentary film was

busting into the mainstream as a medium to be reckoned with. And so a combination of

personal and external forces collided to set me on the potholed path of life as an

independent producer.

Nearly 15 years on, with countless lessons along the way, our lean and talented team

continues to take great pride in the work we do. Our goal is to entertain. To educate. To

enlighten. Maybe to sneak in a good laugh or two. At Digital Eyes Film, we produce media

with heart. We discover and tell the untold stories. And we provide audiences, our

partners, colleagues, and clients with the personal touch and breadth of experience that

we bring to the table each day. We’re going to continue to push the boundaries of

independent storytelling and distribution, and make manifest the change that media can

create in people’s lives, our communities, and society. Because goddammit, it’s what we


- PJ Moynihan


Meaningful Action: The Rally

As we dreamed up what meaningful action might actually look like, we continually sought

to avoid limiting our ideas and choices. Stephanie and I discussed how we could bring the

richness, knowledge and learning of ReAwaken to an ongoing conversation and

statement. How we could connect with people who may not have attended the 5 days of

ReAwaken was a focus Quickly we realized that we had many brothers and sisters in

marginalised communities. And there it was…. a rally.

The next time we spoke to PJ and Oryx for our weekly/fortnightly organised catch up we

shared the idea of a public rally, and inviting community groups to joins us. The

excitement of the idea was vibrant. As the Healing Voices movie says we could ‘bring

mental health out of the shadows’, and we had come up with a very visible and powerful

way to do so to end the event. Better still it gave us the opportunity to make a connection

on a wider scale with other groups.

Although the initial idea was a march from Victoria Square to Parliament, we instead met

on the steps of Parliament and handed over the ReAwaken Manifesto to Katrine Hildyard,

Member for Reynell, SA. Katrine has been a supporter of the community screenings of

Healing Voices, speaking at events and more broadly supporting the community

conversation for change. She agreed to meet us on the Parliament steps without

hesitation and we duly arranged for buses to take willing attendees to the parliament for

the rally.


During the week the invitation to create placards was supported. Many wore the

ReAwaken shirts and carried placards, while others handed out copies of the ReAwaken

Manifesto to members of the public in the spirit of new conversations and connection.

The stark reality that emerged during the week was that as the list of those attending the

rally developed, so too did the list of conference participants who felt it was unsafe to

attend – some of whom had even been instructed by employers that they were not to

attend. This group was predominantly people employed by SA HEALTH who felt their jobs

would be at risk had they attended. There is no greater example of the need to change

the conversation from oppression and fear to empowerment and liberation. Those of us

who could attend carried in our hearts the spirit of those who felt the weight of

oppression not to attend.

As we stood to sing Imagine by John Lennon the mix of ardent activism and peaceful

connection worked together to give a voice to our creation from the week. We had

intentionally invited many other groups to join us and witness a small fire on the steps to

pay respect to the traditional owners of the land on which the whole event had been

conjured up, delivered, and then marked by the conviviality on the steps of democracy in

our State. Noise, laughter, slogans of empowerment and, most of all, connection in our

community, brought ReAwaken Australia to close with this meaningful action.


For those present and involved in the rally, the liberation to speak our truth and walk

together in pride reminded me of the Cesar Chávez quote, ‘once social change begins, it

cannot be reversed’. ReAwaken was born, lived and a was now established as a connected

community of knowing, love, mutual support and learning.


The final act! Heading to Parliament steps with the Manifesto for Compassionate Change,

our voices, our spirit and our connection to meaningful action




ReAwaken Ripples

The pieces below are written by some of the amazing people who participated in

ReAwaken. They include reflections on the event itself, as well as the ripple effects they

have observed both personally and within the community as a result of ReAwaken.

‘A utopian experience’ by Suki Marek

Looking back on what was a profound week, I have many

feelings about what it meant to me. I may or may not

label them all, I haven’t decided yet. I went into opening

night not having a clue what to expect but I just knew I

needed to be there. After all, it was a group of

consumers and people from the mental health industry

that had some amazing ideas and plans to improve the

system from the inside out. How great!

I got to know people that I knew briefly from along my

journey and I met new friends. Some who had travelled

great distances to be there. As the week went on I noticed some emotion stirring in me, I

think hearing peoples stories and seeing the emotion through the art pieces felt like my

own stories and emotions, it reminded me of my own experiences and so I could

empathize. It made me think how we are not so different after all. We are all humans

with experiences that form who we are and maybe if we are able to stay in connection

with each other then I think in the end, we will all be ok? I don’t think it needs to be


I did feel a bit out of my depth at first surrounded by all these amazing change makers

and dreamers. I needed to find my reason for being there. And I found it, for me I wanted

to just take it all in, learn as much as I could. Maybe make some new friends and most

importantly keep my heart and mind open.

My biggest take away from the event was witnessing the impromptu demonstration of

the peer supported open dialogue run by Amanda Waegeli and Cherie McGregor. It

sparked something in me, it worked! And I could see first hand how it worked.


The simplicity of communication allowing a family dynamic to flow and to be with the

person in distress, It was safe, respectful and incredibly effective. “That’s what I want to

do” I thought to myself as I watched intently. And so that caused me to follow a study

path of Peer Support. And I am forever grateful.

I spent free time in the art space, painting, drawing, playing with different mediums and

exploring expression as a way of processing the things that were coming up for me. It was

an essential element of the conference, as it provided an outlet for people and a place to

relax and create. I did not partake in the ‘Meaning Manual’ project, mainly because I

didn’t have an official diagnosis and could not creatively connect with the process. I did

however create an art piece for the ‘Turning Point’ art project. A turning point in my life

was finding the ‘Living beyond a shadow of Abuse’ group. And so my art piece

symbolically represented that.

The rally on the steps of Parliament House and presentation of the Manifesto signified to

closing of the week. The reason we had all come together. We wanted change in the

Mental Health system. “Love not drugs” “connection = healing” “I am not my diagnoses”

a few among many of the placards displayed proudly. The singing of John Lennon’s ‘Give

peace a chance’ united us, the chanting, the smiles, the people stopping to talk to us.

Some in tears as they felt exactly the same emotions that we felt. Now connected by an

understanding. It was incredibly powerful being a part of something so great.

The theme of the four days was connection, compassion and meaningful action. And the

theme rang true, you could see it everywhere you looked. People talking to people, heart

connections. As it should be every day, a bliss bubble. A utopian experience. A huge

thank you to Stephanie and Matt for making me feel welcome and the amazing efforts

from you both and the rest of the team that made it all happen. I look forward to being a

part of Reawaken 2.0.

Suki is a mental health peer support student, a volunteer with the Humane Clinic and is

currently working as a support worker. Suki’s own lived experience deeply informs her

work and study. She has an interest in Internal Family Systems (IFS) Therapy and is

passionate about healing in relation to trauma and abuse.


ReAwakening Relationships with Emotional CPR (eCPR)

I was given the amazing opportunity to attend the Reawaken Conference. It was utterly

amazing and the first time in my life experience I've seen a community of strangers unite,

resulting in a community of connection, compassion, and friendships. I also attended the

Emotional CPR (for assisting people through emotion crisis) training that followed the


I felt the desire to express what I have learnt and, apart from that, how it has changed

not only my life but that of my son.

I left the eCPR training with renewed hope and awareness, challenging myself to bring

this amazing therapeutic model into my home. My son is 8 yrs old. He is autistic with

other complex needs. Zion has always found it difficult to self-regulate his emotions and

he has an assistance dog to help him at times. To give you a picture, my son was having

daily, if not more than once a day, meltdowns which were resulting in some behaviours of


The morning after training, I landed in a situation where I could see the potential for

using eCPR. I was able to sit with my son and use the model of Connect, emPower and


Me: Buddy, I can see your feeling very frustrated at the moment.

*nods head in his frustration of not being heard*

Me: I'm feeling frustrated also as I saw ___ chose not to listen and ignore you even

though you tried to use your big voice. I feel proud you did try but, yes, also frustrated

that you weren’t listened to.

*Zion starts calms as I acknowledged his and my own feeling*

Zion growls and states “I am mad. “

Me: Yep, it is okay to be mad as you were being ignored and that is not nice.

Zion starts crying and says “I am mad and sad. “

Me: I am feeling sad too as I can see you really tried and were so brave.

Zion reaches out for a hug, we hug.


Now normally this would have escalated to the point of a meltdown where behaviours of

concern would have come into play. This time I was not there to fix the problem but just

to acknowledge and sit with those not-nice feelings.

We've used this model now for 3 weeks and we haven't had ANY behaviours of concerns.

It has opened up my son's understanding that having emotions is okay and it is safe to be

able to sit with another, connect together and be in a space of empowerment and

healing. I have even expanded this to be included in all of Zion's therapy sessions. Even

the therapists are in awe of his new-found awareness and understanding of emotions. As

a parent, I don’t know how to explain, having done many years of therapy and seeing

small steps, that in just 3 weeks this amazing, powerful model of simplicity has changed

our lives. Now we are no longer living in a battle field but in a field of understanding,

acknowledgement, compassion and growth.

Thank You to the Reawaken and eCPR team.

Bianca is a parent of two amazing children. She is

passionate about making positive change in

society in the areas of disability, mental health

and trauma.


A reflection on ReAwaken

What could it possibly mean to re-awaken- to come to consciousness? With an eighth of

this country on anti-depressants (second only to Iceland!) it's a real question for Australia

today. But I've got a shrink, haven't I, and he's doing me good, right? So when I was asked

to read a little of my poetry at the ReAwaken Australia Conference in Adelaide in April I

thought it would be doing a small favor for a friend.

Instead it became a big favor for me. That Monday night I went out on a limb, taking it

further than a poetry reading, into the troubled, normally silent world that I don't usually

share. I opened a little door to another me. Planning it, I wondered what people would

think. I didn't know anybody there, and they sure as hell didn't know me.

I needn't have worried. From the moment I sat down and in the moments of sweet music

and grateful exchange in that audience that night, and in the days to follow in intelligent

and, dammit, sensible discourse on not just what's wrong with us but what's wrong with

what we think is wrong with us, I was to find more connection and compassion than I'd

found in ten years of shrinkage.

I watched as the DSM was pinned down like the dead frog it is and examined for the

twitch which still signifies life, as other acronyms were introduced and examined, as my

PTSD became PTS and perhaps simply PT, affected by some pretty significant ACE and

possibly an occasional BPD (on Mondays). It was alphabet soup for the soul but, rather

than throw out old work completely, I was able to see the worth in it and the greater

worth in a thorough examination of the true affects of the current bible - the DSM - its

use and misuse.

Two days after my (gulp!) personal revelation, and after being exposed to many such

reveals (suddenly, unexpectedly shared in both inner eye-opening sessions and sunny

chats in fresh air) Kane and Klaire introduced me to the depth of work which has been

done on PTMF. Look it up. I felt it immediately inform me (in-form me) and, this

afternoon, I'll inform my psychiatrist about it - compare notes on the body of evidence for

it, bring something new to the table.

And that's what this conference did - brought another face to the table, often the face of

a so-called 'victim' or a 'client', or some more damaging label, but always the


face of a heretic: someone willing to challenge an orthodoxy so flawed that even its

authors call it out as bullshit. ReAwaken Australia's presenters and participants

challenged that current paradigm, and its dominance, with a ream of well-founded

scientific papers in their hands, personal experience in their voices, compassion in their


From indigenous women's stories about today's broken system to a plea to rehumanise

the impact of trauma, from the suicide-deadly serious to the downright comedic, from

the power-point to the coffee machine, this was a living re-writing of not just the DSM

but of each life that attended. I shit you not - find out when the next time Oryx, Matt,

Stephanie and PJ and their disorder dissenters, their analysis agnostics get together and

make sure you're there. You'll benefit from the fresh air.

Rob is a poet, writer, performer,

documentary film maker and stage

director. His works have been published

by SAWC, Heinemann Books, Oxford

University Press, Friendly Street Poets,

Wakefield Press, The Weekend Australian

Magazine, The Broadkill Review, eMags

in Australia and overseas and on travel

blogs. Rob has taught Professional

Writing, Poetry, Short Story, Creative Non

-fiction, Film, Stage and Memoir writing

at various South Australian tertiary

institutions, in workshops for the Australian Writers' Guild and the South Australian

Writers' Centre and for community groups. With his partner Sue, Rob runs Rosebud

Writing Workshops in the Adelaide Hills. He continues to write and assists other to selfpublish.


ReAwakening through Irish Eyes

A fellow social work student asked me last week where I am on placement. I told her I'm

working in a hearing voices clinic, to which she laughed hysterically for a few minutes. I

don’t know what was so funny and I still don’t. Perhaps if I said I worked with

‘schizophrenics’ it wouldn’t have been so hysterical. Is it more acceptable to work with

people with labels rather than to hear a person’s story and treat them as individuals with

individual needs?

Which leads me to my experience at ReAwaken, which was an event with the purpose of

creating connection, compassion and shifting paradigms in the mental health system. Did

I see any mad people? No, what I saw were strong-willed people attuned to the idea of a

compassionate recovery rather that the current shitstorm of a mental health system

which provides limited emphasis or explanations on the impact that trauma and abuse

can have on someone. It was liberating to be in the company of like-minded individuals;

you could see in each persons eyes, the determination, the strength, the mirrored

frustration of seeing the system's lack of compassion and the impact this has on people.

We came from all walks of life, different countries, cultures, attitudes and beliefs, we all

had our own stories and experiences but at the end of the day we were all on the same

page about what we are fighting for. And that is for recognition that we are not broken,

recognition of earlier traumas and abuses and how they affect people’s mental health,

and the choice whether to be medicated or not.

One of the big ones for me is the importance of peer work. To recognise that these

people have suffered horrific and dark experiences, have got through it and are

dedicating their lives to helping others heal themselves. Although it may be painful and

triggering, it is powerful and will change the world. That to me is COMPASSION. Let’s not

lose the momentum, let’s keep everything we learnt fresh in our

heads, let’s spread the word, let’s keep talking until people are

tired of hearing about it!

Claire McClorey is a social work student at Flinders University in

Adelaide, South Australia. She is currently doing field placement

with the HUMANE Clinic and was a core member of the ReAwaken

organizing team.



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