Once social change begins it can not be reversed

And so social change began. We met with gratitude and respect on the land of the Kaurna people. The richness of the land over which the Kaurna people are custodians contributed to a coming together, a place of community, stories and personal journeys. The healing voices movie crew ( ) facilitated a visual, auditory, spiritual and educational experience that brought together 150 people in our local community. People with lived experience, families, loved ones, professionals, community members all came together to begin a conversation about mental illness and how each individual or community might choose to define and make sense of their own experience.

Discussion on where to from here, passionate offerings of human experience was heard and valued by all. The night was a demonstration of the desire for social change within the community when we consider the experience of mental illness.

Between the film and the community conversation individuals met one another, shared stories, experiences, hopes and a sense of coming together over supper provided by volunteers associated with Community Health Onkaparinga (CHO) ( CHO is a beautiful group of people who hosted the event as part of a much wider role of connecting people within the local community.

You can not un-educate the person who has learned to read.

For some the education appeared to be a validation of the education of their own learnings by experience. Others heard things that confirmed what they have experienced on their journey but not allowed themselves, or been allowed by others, to believe in the learning of their own experience. For others, education by experience has been dismissed or unacknowledged, invalidated or oppressed on their journeys but the movie and conversation sought to acknowledge, validate and accept the personal education of each of the lives of everyone who attended.

The learning and consolidation of the truth of individuals was nourished and accepted through meeting others amongst a new and vibrant community that watched a movie, met one another over food and drink and a conversation in an environment of hope, acceptance and meaning.

The vast and varied experiences that informed the event were articulated, accepted and understood as the contributions were made to the conversation following the film and throughout the evening. Education took new steps tonight through a common need for change. Our small but passionate community nurtured one another’s education and that shared witnessing cannot be uneducated.

You can not humiliate the person who feels pride

…the pride emerged. Individuals who might never have spoken in public spoke proudly of their experiences and views. To see so many individuals speak, express acknowledge in a public way was inspiring and humbling. Leaning about the Earth Club community ( ) – a space hosted by one of the many who spoke with great pride in his identity and beliefs during the conversation - was beautiful. Many who came to be part of the community might never have sat in a room with so many people before and for others to be part of a new conversation meant the courage to be embrace hope and safety amongst others other people – to turn up and walk through the door took courage and strength for some. For those that hoped to come but could not share in physical presence for many reasons, their support of the event happening was equally valuable. The courage, determination, empowerment and hope that was shared gave individuals pride among their community. That pride is now part of our shared lived experience and no attempt to humiliate it can erase the courage and strength of the community that came together. For many. social change has emerged as a possibility.

You can not oppress the person who is not afraid any more

The community experienced unity, shared pride, shared education, became comrades, friends, collaborators – a brethren. As individuals, for a few hours at least, we became a community providing a shelter from the stigma (, the fear, the invalidation, hopelessness and oppression. We have a reference point for the journey of emancipation.

How the story unfolds and the conversation continues is a choice and can be determined by ourselves, defined by ourselves as individuals and a community. What are we talking about when we talk about mental illness? The healing voices movie event started a new conversation.

Long live the social change… that cannot be reversed.


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