(CS EdX Sessions) Curtin, Michael

Title: “No longer the specimen in the room”: co-production of education resources

Presenter: A/Prof Michael Curtin (Head of School)

Co-presenter(s): Dr Tracey Parnell

Faculty / Division: FoSH

School / Unit: Allied Health, Exercise and Sports Sciences

Session Type: Paper

When: Wednesday, 17 November 2021 @ 11:15am – 12:15pm

Where: Zoom meeting link

Session Documents:



Professionals are increasingly required to have the skills to work effectively with people experiencing mental health issues. Best practice in this arena requires authentic consumer involvement. Engaging with the narratives of consumers of mental health services enhances students’ development of the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to work with a range of people.

The Listening to Voices Theatre Project, Gateway Health, Charles Sturt University and Three Rivers University Department of Rural Health collaborated to co-design and co-produce an online mental health learning resource for students. The consumers involved in the project were essential contributors to the design and development of the resource and in shifting the paradigm from “specimen in the room” to expert. The design and production process involved filming of live theatre performances and interviews, and collaborative team workshops to identify and develop resource content. 

Outline of initiative/practice:

The education resource outlined in this presentation was developed to foreground the voices of people who have been consumers of the Australian mental health system.  The resource provides educators and students with a strengths-based and respectful approach to developing understanding, reducing stigma, and creating hope regarding mental health issues. The resource also highlights the value of a person-centred approach to practice.

The online learning resource presents the stories of four consumers, addressing the themes of trauma, navigating systems, stigma and language, and transformation and recovery.  The resource includes a facilitators’ handbook that provides information, suggestions, and resources to enhance the development of learning experiences. 

Method(s) of evaluative data collection and analysis:

Formal research is currently being undertaken to determine the uptake, utility, and effectiveness of the resource. This research includes pre and post surveys administered to students who have engaged with the resource as well as surveying educators across a range of sectors.  The Listening to Voices project team members are involved in the research process as co-researchers.  Registered users of the resource are also able to provide informal feedback via a centralised email address that is monitored by the Listening to Voices project team.

Evidence of effectiveness

The resource was launched in September 2020 with over 150 people across Australia attending the online event. At present there are over 170 people registered to use the resource; registered users include higher education providers, secondary school teachers, workplace education facilitators, consumers, carers, and family members. 

Analysis of survey data is ongoing.  Feedback provided to the team has reinforced the value of the resource as well as providing suggestions for its ongoing development.  One area for future development will be the inclusion of examples of lesson plans in the facilitator’s guide.


An online learning resource co-designed by consumers of mental health services, the health service, and university, can be used to better prepare students for collaborative, strengths-based, and person-centred practice.  Working together with consumers of mental health services to develop learning resources for students will lead to more authentic learning experiences that will significantly contribute to the development of competent and practice-ready graduates.