Tag Archives: conference

Black Dog Institute Summit on Self-Harm #BDISummit

Pretty obviously there’s a content note about this post for suicide and self-harm

Thanks to Livingworks, I received a bursary to attend the Black Dog Institute Summit on Self Harm in Sydney last week. It was a huge day, starting with catching the 4.51am train down, so I’ll reflect on it with prompting from the posts under the #BDISummit hashtag

The day before, most of the experts had been at a summit organised by the Lancet on putting together the research from around the world on self-harm and suicide statistics, themes and prevention. Lots of British accents, but also people from around the world. There were people researching self harm in lower and middle income countries and how the reasons for, means, and intentions vary from high-income countries. There were also Indigenous perspectives and reminding us that all the basics, like income above the poverty line, less traumatic emergency department experiences, and compassion in general lead to such great results.

Conference mode means mentos and apparently these fancy glasses that I was so tempted to smuggle out but I was good and stuck to perishables like a banana for breakfast the next day and few tea bags.

Emergency and Inpatient Departments are not fit for purpose

Nearly everyone who has gone to the emergency department feeling suicidal or having self harmed in some way has had one or more bad experiences. If you had a good experience, that is amazing and you probably went on to seek and get treatment and didn’t end up back there. If you do survived the assessment in an unsuitable place without excusing yourself, you face a super long wait for any outpatient therapy, or if you end up in inpatient it can also be a very scary, far from healing experience :/

What use is giving CBT to someone in poverty?ย 

Well, given the long waiting lists that psychologists have in Australia, the huge gap you’re up for in most instances if you do get in to see someone, we’re not even at the point of being able to see what a good block of therapy can do while someone is subsisting on welfare in this country. Personally I was fortunate enough to do my block f DBT but I wouldn’t have gotten into that if I hadn’t been at the point of self harming and having the right diagnosis, and surviving the year you need to before the program commences. I have too many friends on Twitter (whose demise is distresses for many who have it as their lifeline quite literally when it comes to seeking emotional and financial support)ย  who saw their mental health stablise when JobSeeker was above the poverty line and mutual obligations were suspended and they were just left to be by a system that is designed to make money for providers without having to give outcomes to “participants”. argh.

Lived and LIVING experience

Interesting discussion at the podium and in the breaks about living experience of self harm and the validity of being able to live a meaningful life while still self-harming. But differentiating this from the person who appears to be well, who is going about their right daily activities, but s struggling or suffering privately. There was discussion around “protecting” the lived experience workforce from further harm as well as allowing those who are participating in research or work to be able to identify for themselves whether they are currently well enough to take part – like me coming to the summit that day and being able to identify if I needed to tap out, or knowing that I would be worn out in the following days from the experience, whether that is just from the early start, social and masking spoons used, or form any more emotional energy from such a heavy topic.

Last of all, what’s an event post with me without the food?

Breakfast was served during the initial session, with mueslie and yoghurt, and mini big breakfast (thankfully without eggs) coming to the table with pots of coffee.

Raspberry and banana bread and fresh fruit at morning tea, along with a nice cold iced tea.

There was hot food at lunch, but I had a couple of chicken rolls and some Greek Salad. I took a couple of rolls for the train ride home for dinner along with some of the fruit at morning tea.

Chocolate slices for afternoon tea – a very sense brownie for me with a little more coffee for the afternoon roll home.

Nice swift train and tram ride home – I wasn’t murdered in the dingy Star casino light rail station which was a relief!

Where to from here? I watched part of a webinar from Lived Experience Australia on how to become a peer worker on Monday, but it was the basic things like do the course and network and find out where you really want to use your skills… And I kinda know that. I also know that I looked up the peer worker course that TAFE NSW runs and immediately realised I don’t yet want to commit to formal study, and so won’t even apply for anything for first semester next year if at all. Maybe 2024. I’m finding that one external engagement outside my own appointments and anything that I take my niblings to is more than enough currently, like the summit, or a modelling day, or a Greens event. And I want to keep doing that stuff. I also don’t know if peer work as such is for me, but I’m glad being a researcher with lived experience of self harm was also modelled at the summit.

And I was also so very excited that on the same day, my blogging buddy Trae was presenting at a conference over in Perth alongside Grace Tame as someone with lived experience of mental illness. Recovery is so cool. But also seeing and hearing my friends and myself thrive after so many years surviving.

Can’t eat resilience – Labor’s Budget had no pleasant surprises

Good morning. Happy Budget Boxing Day, how’s the hangover? There’s not enough water in the world to wash away the fact that people on welfare payments got exactly what was promised and what was expected from Labor’s budget – nothing. A few comments about us being lucky to even be getting the upcoming CPI increases to payments, that cheaper childcare will help somehow, that more free tafe places will help people get into work even though all their other qualifications haven’t. More language about rorts in the NDIS and expected blowouts demonising the wrong people.

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For sure, if I was corporate Fiona from this photo I found last night, I’d be benefitting from the promised 6 months paid parental leave (because I still thought I’d be having kids back then). Any promises around childcare were welcomed as she watched speech pathologists and occupational therapists unable to return to work with the long waiting lists in Canberra daycare. She’d be happy with the reduction in maximum PBS medicine costs since she was working and didn’t have a health care card, Her partner had property and she was aspirational. But then, reality took hold and we are where we are now.

I remember getting the small tax cuts back in Howard’s final years. $10 here and there.ย  Working in community services and health, we all lamented that they should keep the money and invest it in health and education, but we dutifully spend it on latte’s at Coolo.

Labor never promised any raises to Centrelink payments, in fact they backtracked from any talk about them from the 2019 election thinking that the voters didn’t like them pormising anything good. They walked them back to we’ll have a review and maybe look at a real raise in 2024. Which is about when they project real wages to start going up in relation to inflation. In the meantime? We get to remember Labor’s greatest complaints about the LNP and how none of them could ever survive on JobSeeker, but there’s literally nothing in the budget for those on payments. Correct me if I’m wrong, PLEASE correct me if I’m wrong!

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These photos? They’re from a blogger event in Sydney in 2012. It was for Kleenex Cottonelle and we broke pintrest because we were trying to pin too many things at once. A wonderful greenwashing promo. That was when i was an Aunty blogger, or a food blogger, depending on who was paying for drinks. I’m wearing the last pair of glasses I bought from a shop in Australia, they set me back $700. $200 for the frames, $500 for the lenses, and from then on it was Chinese online glasses all the way.

I dug out these pics because I got a bursary to attend the Black Dog Institute‘s Summit on Self-Harm in Sydney on November 10 as a person with lived experience of self harm and the mental health system. It’s at Doltone House, the same venue as the Contonlle event, I thought it looked familiar when I was planning the early morning train trip down! I’m really really excited! It’s going to be a huge day, with a 7.30am start, so, a snooze on the 4.51am train down and coffee on arrival please and thankyou! If I recall correctly it was well catered, so I hope they still are!

So, now to plan my days around having the spoons for the summit, for taking it in, for networking and holding conversation with some amazing researchers! The program looks great!

But what do I wear???

Ausgrid Voices of Community Panel – First Face-to-Face Day at Rydges World Square

Gonzo and Rizzo saying I'm here to tell the story and Rozzo saying and I am here for the food

Over the last couple of months I’ve been participating in a panel for Ausgrid, the local energy distributor, working with 60 other customers across Sydney, Central Coast and the Hunter to feed into their next big plan. We had several evening sessions and one full day online before today, but Saturday was the first face to face session. As it was down in Sydney, Hunter participants received an extra $100 gift card thank you, on top of the $1000 payment we will get at the completion of the program in June.

Our task Ausgrid manages the poles and wires in your community. The energy industry is at a critical point, with a growing focus on a low carbon future and more extreme weather impacting the grid. Alongside that, customer needs and aspirations are rapidly changing. How we understand and respond to these issues has important implications for electricity bills and the reliability of electricity supply. How should Ausgrid look to the future while being fair to customers today?

Got up at 5am and caught an early train down the Central… been forever since I’ve done that long trip! Unfortunately, I lost my concession opal card a few weeks back and the replacement hasn’t arrived, so it was tapping on with my keycard for full fare. I still really don’t like three newer trains with the blue seats, and sadly didn’t get the old more comfortable purple seat train either way. One day the even newer trains will be in service and I’ll get to complain about the seats not being able to change direction.

An uneventful trip down, Sydney greeted me with what they’re know for best at the moment -rain! It was a dash up Pitt street without the umbrella I forgot to bring, and straight to the urn of coffee after registration. I’ve recently worked out that the reason I feel sick after two coffees is the milk and not the coffee or caffeine, so a low milk coffee link urn or instant with a splash of milk can be consumed repeatedly over the course of a conference or meeting day like this one.

sydney station outside on a rainy day

I swear I’m not just there for the food like Rizzo the rat, but a decent spread was put on and that’s what we’re at least making this post for! Gotta keep us fuelled up and thinking!

mini muffins

vege mud cakes

Morning tea was muffin time – blueberry, choc chip, and citrus and poppy seed muffins for the crown, and some vegan chocolate mud cakes for those with dietary restrictions. I tried them all – even the mud cake at the end of morning tea when they were going untouched. The mini-muffins were generic enough, and I stashed a couple to eat on the train home. The icing on the mud cake disappeared into my tongue somehow! It was VERY noisy in the lobby and the conference room, so I did some disappearing acts during the breaks to recharge.

buffet lunch

a plate of lunch and an apple juice

Lunch was a buffet – roast lam and vegetables, chicken curry and rice, salads, bread rolls, and desserts. There was a cheese option too, and apple juice, water, tea and coffee. I ate my lunch alone, then went to be social with some of the others with my petit fours and mug of tea. I nearly recruited someone to man a booth on election day, but she declined for her own sanity, and I don’t blame her!

The afternoon, while short was also long, and felt like it was dragging. I think it was because we’d been going over the same topics and points all day, trying to nut them out to be able to take them back to “the stakeholders” for feedback. There’s only so many times I can hear the same comments about an issue that’s really not that relevant but is super important to someone before rolling my eyes and wishing myself out of the room. They did have these plush cubes that had microphones to throw around so we could hear the speakers which was kinda cool, and super helpful especially with some people wearing masks.

The party pies were a surprise for afternoon tea, but strangely hit the spot with the grey old world outside looking like I didn’t want to go back into it.

I stared out over the lanterns at afternoon tea, regathering my self to face other humans for just one more session. Honestly, I didn’t contribute too much in the finally session, I was so done, and I somehow ended up on a table talking about fault reporting and tried to be useful and care. One strategy I did find myself using though the day was putting my hand up early to contribute so I knew I’d participated in a session and didn’t get lost in all the noise. It seemed to work for me.

We finished on time and scurried to the station for the 5.18 train. That was peaceful enough until Woy Woy when pre-loading teens got on to head into Newcastle for clubbing. They were so loud and reeking of cheap premixes, but good for them for, hey?

What do you like about conference type meals? I’m glad we got a sit-down lunch rather than stand up sandwiches and wraps, so that was a pleasant change!