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
National Empowerment Centre
Digital Eyes Film
Gold level sponsors:
Silver level sponsors:
Life without Barriers
SA mental Health commission
National Empowerment Centre (US)
Community Health Onkaparinga
Sunshine Coast Mind & Neuroscience Thompson Institute
Digital Eyes Film
ReAwaken – The Heart of the Matter 8
The story of ReAwaken Australia 14
The ReAwaken Manifesto for 16
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
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.
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
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 (www.humanrelations.com.au). 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
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.
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
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
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
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.
Matt Ball - Dissociachotic: Seeing the non-psychosis that
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
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
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
The ‘Stay asleep’
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
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:
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
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
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
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
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
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
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