Working with lived experience: Consultation or co-design?

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.

When working in the area of lived experience, it’s important to honour the process you choose and strive to correctly label the approach you’re undertaking. For example, in many spaces there can be confusion between consultation and co-design. (For more on this issue, refer to our resource, Consultation or co-design?)

In the following audio clip (3 minutes, 51 seconds), people with lived experience and staff talk about what co-design means to them.

Reflection activity

Take a moment to consider the following questions:

  • What do you think are the differences between co-design and other ways of engaging with people with lived experience?
  • If you don’t have the resources to undertake a co-design process, how could you engage in a high-quality consultation or collaboration process?

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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