Lived and Living Experience

Lived experience engagement is integral to ensuring that we develop, implement, and evaluate services and policies that best support children, young people, families, and carers to be healthy, safe, and able to lead a life they value.

Language Use

It is important to use chosen language of people with lived and living experience. In doing so, we can create a more person-centred and relevant approach to the way we communicate and conceptualise mental health. 

The Campus uses the term of “people with lived and living experience” to describe people who identify as:   

•    someone with personal experience with mental health challenges and recovery; and/or
•    someone with experience in supporting a person with mental health challenges and recovery.

At the Campus, people with lived and living experience specifically refers to children, young people, families, carer, and supporters. 

Lived Experience Engagement

Including people with lived and living experience in the development, implementation and evaluation of services and policies is important to make sure that they best support children, young people, families, and carers to be healthy, safe, and able to lead a life they value.

We believe people with lived and living experience have a fundamental right to be involved in decision making that affects them.   

With support to be at the heart of the work of the Melbourne Children’s Campus, we can change the narrative for lived experience engagement and co-produce a future where nothing is done about us, without us. 

Lived Experience Advisors

The Mental Health Strategy has established a Lived Experience Advisors (LEAs) program to help us to include people with lived and living experience of mental health challenges and recovery. The LEA program facilitates effective, meaningful, and remunerated engagement in line with best practice national and state guidelines.  

We currently have a network of over 800 Lived Experience Advisors. These LEAs are from a variety of backgrounds and identities including:  

•    Personal Experience: 86%
Young People (15-30): 55%
•    Family and Carer Experience: 52%
•    Older People (31+): 45%
•    LGBTQIA+: 29%
•    Disability: 27%
•    Multicultural: 23%
•    Rural & Regional: 18%
•    First Nations: 2%

We are actively recruiting Lived Experience Advisors. If you would like to use your lived experience of mental health challenges and recovery to help improve mental health services, please: 

Click here to apply 


We have launched a podcast called Humans Behind Healthcare, which is dedicated to raising awareness of the lived and living experience of healthcare professionals.  

In each episode, we’ll hear from different healthcare professionals and explore how they navigate their relationships between their personal lived experiences and their professional experiences. 

In the first episode, we hear from Belinda Horton, Program Director of the Melbourne Children’s Campus Mental Health Strategy. Belinda shares her experience and thoughts for mental health professionals who also have lived and living experience of mental health challenges.  

Click here to listen 

Emily Unity

Emily Unity (they/them) is the Senior Project Officer of Lived Experience. Emily is a lived and living experience professional with a diverse portfolio focusing on intersectional experiences. They have worked with a variety of organisations, including Orygen, the National Mental Health Commission, Lived Experience Australia, headspace and Beyond Blue. In their work, Emily has identified, created, and facilitated opportunities for meaningful lived experience engagement to help design a future for all people, regardless of background, identity, or intersectionality. 

Emily grounds their professional work in their personal lived and living experiences of mental health, disability, family violence, homelessness, gender and sexual diversity, and being from a refugee and migrant background.

Acknowledgement of Country

Australian Aboriginal Flag
Progress Pride Flag
Torres Strait Islander Flag

At Mental Health Central we acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we live, gather and work. We recognise their continuing connection to land, water and community. We pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging.

We acknowledge all people with a lived or living experience of mental ill-health and recovery. At the Campus, we particularly acknowledge children, young people, families, carers, and supporters. We recognise their vital contribution and value the courage of those who share this unique perspective for the purpose of learning and growing together to achieve better outcomes for the Campus, staff, sector, and all people of lived experience.

Proudly supported by the Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation