Putting principle into practice

Meet Catherine O’Donnell, the Director of Lived Experience Engagement at Mindgardens.

Many clinicians and researchers want to include consumers, carers and families in their work, but are unsure how to go about it, says Catherine, who herself identifies as having a lived experience of mental illness and drug and alcohol addiction.

Through her senior executive role, Catherine says she can, “help people understand what is best practice around bringing those voices of lived experience to the table.”



Peer workers represent 14% of the NSW community-managed mental health workforce


Mental health peer work scholarships are available in NSW


Suicide prevention peer workers roles are funded in NSW

1.85 million

Peer support for people leaving hospital saved NSW $1.85 million in 3 years

Lived Experience Engagament Framework

Mindgardens has formalised its commitment to engaging with people with lived experience of mental health, drug and alcohol and neurological disorders through this statement, adopted in October 2023.


Stories of lived experience

Consumers and families apply their knowledge to system change

Youth Navigation
Stories of Change
Joining the dots for better youth services
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Drug & Alcohol Disorders
Stories of Change
Sharing the journey of lived experience
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Mental Health
Stories of Change
On the move to protect mental health and wellbeing
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How MindLabs contributes