The emotional labour of lived experience work

Lydia Trowse and Bec Edser, Emerging Minds, Australia, January 2024

Resource Summary

This resource is part of a case study on the Lived Experience Network: a co-designed group of lived experience system advisors established within the South Australian Government’s Department of Human Services (DHS) Early Intervention Research Directorate (EIRD). The Network aims to ensure the voices of children and families are included in the planning, monitoring and review of the Child and Family Support System.

We recommend exploring how and why the Lived Experience Network was formed before reading this resource.

Trauma-informed practice

Participating in lived experience work can be emotionally exhausting or triggering for both families and staff. It’s important to approach this work with a trauma-informed lens and provide adequate supports before, during and after the project.

In the following video (3 minutes, 21 seconds), lived experience experts share how a trauma-informed approach supports their work.

How to turn on video subtitles

To turn on subtitles/closed captions for this video, select the ‘CC’ icon in the lower right of the video screen and under ‘CC/Subtitles’, select ‘English’.

Looking after safety and wellbeing

In the following audio clip (3 minutes, 19 seconds), lived experience advisors talk about the specific things that help them to manage their mental health and wellbeing.

How the Lived Experience Network staff seek and offer support

In the following video (3 minutes, 18 seconds), Network staff discuss the ways they seek to support and empower the people with lived experience they’re working with.

How to turn on video subtitles

To turn on subtitles/closed captions for this video, select the ‘CC’ icon in the lower right of the video screen and under ‘CC/Subtitles’, select ‘English’.

How the Lived Experience Network members support each other

In the next audio recording (5 minutes, 26 seconds), Network members talk about how they support themselves and each other through difficult feelings and experiences.

Reflection activity

Take a moment to consider the following questions:

  • What are some of the ways that members’ mental health, wellbeing and safety have been supported in the lived experience network?
  • What can you do to ensure that your work with people with lived experience of adversities and mental health issues has a trauma-informed lens?

For more information on providing good support, visit the ‘Support and wellbeing’ section of our Child and Family Partnerships Toolkit.

Emerging Minds would like to acknowledge the following Lived Experience Network Alumni, consultants and coordinator who have so generously shared their insights and wisdom for this project:

Shelly, Mirja, Jasmine, Wei, Jamie, Lemy, Chloe, Dana, Mel and Yasmin.

We thank them for investing their time and energy into creating this case study for others to learn from. You can learn more about what the alumni are up to now.

For more examples of ways to incorporate lived experience wisdom into your practice, please check out our other child and family partnership case studies.

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