COPMI National Lived Experience Forum

The COPMI National Lived Experience Forum (CNLEF) works in partnership and is a resource for lived experience input into the COPMI national initiative

The CNLEF achieves this through its strong connections with people who have lived experience of parental mental illness across the Australian states and territories.

Role of the Forum

The role of Forum members is to:

  • collaborate with the COPMI team to support the delivery of funded activities
  • provide guidance and advice regarding the future direction and activities of the initiative
  • be a conduit for information sharing and gathering across networks to promote the COPMI national initiative
  • be a model of excellence in lived experience collaboration, inclusion and partnerships in the dialogue around issues related to children of parents with a mental illness.

I’ve said it before – a marvellous, responsive organisation that punches way above its weight. I do have a sense of partnership among all members of COPMI, with the community and other stakeholders. I am a fan.
A lived experience representative

In 2014 our Forum members were sought from people with a broad range of perspectives and experiences including:

  • parents with a mental illness
  • partners of a parent with a mental illness
  • young people and adult children of a parent with a mental illness
  • carers of a child (under 18 years) who has a parent with a mental illness (e.g. grandparent, carer, foster carer, sibling).

Meet the Forum members

New members were elected for the 2014-15 funding period. Forum members meet regularly, both face-to-face and via teleconference.

Kham, NSW

'I am a father of three beautiful young girls. I grew up in the late 60's with five brothers, losing my mother to suicide in my late teens and seeing how depression can affect my family. Having grown up as a first generation Laotian refugee in Australia, I can see how mental illness is not discussed or talked about in the community. I am determined to break this barrier so my children do not have to suffer in silence should they ever have to face the same circumstances. I am proud to be associated with COPMI so together we can break this barrier of stigmatisation and raise awareness now and for future generations to come.'

Amanda, QLD
Amanda is a peer specialist and independent mental health recovery consultant and trainer, from QLD. Originally born in Geelong, Victoria 48 years ago she is the oldest of four children, with three younger brothers. Her mother and grandmothers battled depression all their lives. Amanda is a parent with lived experience of mental distress which began in her teens, but emerged uncontrollably after the traumatic birth of her seventh child. After seven years in mental health services, she heard about recovery and has been successfully living recovery for eight years now. Amanda's professional background is in family, child and youth work. After her mental health experiences she decided to retrain in educational and relational counselling and pastoral care chaplaincy. She has worked at a variety of mental health services over the last nine years in WA and has presented at a variety of international conferences. She was a senior recovery trainer with the Richmond Fellowship of Western Australia and held the post of State Co-ordinator of the Hearing Voices Network of WA. Amanda has developed innovative services to support families where a family member experiences mental distress, voices, visions and other unusual perceptions. She currently convenes and coordinates the Recovery Rocks Community, a peer led and run recovery community that supports people on their mental health recovery. Amanda likes the beach, loves music and is a talented singer, songwriter and musician.

Gemma, VIC
Gemma is the mother of two beautiful children aged 12 and four and lives in Victoria with her wonderful husband Andrew. Gemma's life has been touched by mental illness for as long as she can remember and her lived experience includes; being a child of a parent with mental illness (as her father has lived with schizoaffective disorder for the majority of her life) and living as a parent with a mental illness (as she has experienced symptoms of severe depression on off since the age of 11). She is also a carer as she has found herself caring for her father as well as her 12 year old daughter who has experienced symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Gemma has spent the last few years working in the mental health sector endeavouring to create lasting change in the outcomes of people living with a mental illness, their carers and families and is currently working as a peer support worker in her local area. She is very excited to have the opportunity to work with COPMI on the National Lived Experience Forum and can't wait to see what the next year will bring.

Jane, ACT
'I have two boys aged 11 and 14. I have been a single parent for a number of years and, over this time, I have been learning to manage my depression and bipolar. I have been actively involved in volunteer education in schools and community groups, and presenting a community radio show aimed at reducing stigma around mental illness. The COPMI Forum is a brilliant avenue for creating change where it really counts - children. Working with other Forum members and hearing the voices of young people is one of the great aspects of the CNLEF.'

Ann, VIC
'I am a mother of five children. I grew up in a family with mental health issues. After the birth of my fifth child I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and post traumatic stress disorder. I do presentations and talks about my recovery and challenges over the years. My younger daughter has since been diagnosed with a mental health problem and so I have moved into a carer role as well. I am passionate about education and the role of including children in family resilience.'

Mary, SA
'I am 21 years old and currently studying psychology at university. I hope to eventually become a clinical psychologist and have a strong passion for promoting mental health awareness. I am the daughter of a mother with a mental illness and have faced my own mental health problems as well.'

Brooke, NSW
'I am an adult of two parents with a mental illness. My two younger brothers have also experienced mental health issues. Through working with COPMI for the past few years I have built my networks and begun working at a local level speaking about my lived experience. I have been a part of effecting change with like minded people and the experience is priceless.'

Alix, NSW
Alix is 23 years old. He grew up in country New South Wales. His father has schizophrenia. Growing up in the country, mental health issues were stigmatised and it was hard to know where to find support. Alix now lives in Sydney, and is completing his studies in psychology. Alix is passionate about helping children and families dealing with mental health issues, with a particular interest in increasing support and information for children, and reducing stigma within the general public. Alix is proud to be a part of COPMI, and hopes to make a positive contribution in the work he is doing.

To date our Forum members have overwhelmingly reported that belonging to the Forum has enriched their lives and been personally rewarding and allowed them to contribute in some unexpected ways.

If you would like to contact any of the Forum members, please make a request via