Performer, advocate and expert by experience. Kelly joined Listening to Voices with a purpose of helping those who were less able to speak up about their experiences, particularly childhood trauma. Kelly is a talented flautist and adds her music and her determination to delivering the pertinent messages in this arts/health work.
Growing up in the small town of Glenrowan, Victoria, Ben discovered his love of storytelling at an early age. His love of heroic narrative became a source of strength through being bullied. Performing with Listening to Voices brings Ben’s affinity for story, together with the opportunity to tell an authentic human tale, in a forum that can change minds and inspire hearts.
Yomal is a self taught musician and has collaborated as composer and sound scape artist within various event and theater contexts. Yomal responds by composing music and sound that supports and honours people and the telling of their stories. He has composed original music for projects such as: Listening to Voices, Light in Winter Festival, Big West Festival and Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. As one audience member aptly said “The music was the healing thread that connected us all”.
Performer, advocate and expert by experience. Sarah is both an original member of Listening to Voices and the lead facilitator of the Albury-Wodonga Hearing Voices Group. Sarah has contributed her lived experience and further training to the pursuit of inspiring and educating others.
Jain loves going to the theatre and taking part in amateur theatre, particularly performing with the Listening to Voices theatre group. She appreciates the opportunity to use both drama and comedy to express life’s journey, hope, growth and recovery, and to break down social prejudices and barriers.
Ros offers the entire crew her pearls of wisdom and many years experience in mental health recovery. Ros is passionate about creating a paradigm shift in mental health services by sharing her knowledge in trauma informed practice and the hearing voices approaches.
Catherine Simmonds is one of Australia’s leading community cultural development theatre makers. As an artistic director, her focus is the space between the ‘lived experiences’ of marginalized communities and the language of art. The result is powerful theatre that heals profoundly on a personal level, and in so doing, creates strong social and political advocates. For more than two and half decades Catherine has provided workshop participants with a creative space in which to ‘discover the need to speak and to speak the unspoken’. The community become the actors, the devisors, the consultants and protagonists of their own and each other’s stories.
Kate is the project manager for Listening to Voices Theatre. Her passion for an acceptance of diverse narratives of ‘mental illness’ was seeded through studies in anthropology and sociology and inspired by the Hearing Voices Movement. As a mental health professional and manager for Listening to Voices, Kate aims to increase the community dialogue that builds greater connection and compassion.
People with lived experience of the mental health system became the creators, consultants and actors of their own and each-others stories. Drama methods, creativity, collaboration and willingness form the foundations upon which peoples’ own stories become a powerful antidote to the stigma surrounding mental distress, voice hearing and psychosis. The courage in tacking this to the stage inspired connection, reflection, and hope. The model provides a creative space in which people have an opportunity to ‘discover the need to speak and to speak the unspoken’
Listening to Voices, the name devised by project participants, is collaboration between Gateway Health (a non-government health organisation) and Free Voice Speak Out, our local hearing voices group in regional Victoria, Australia. Listening to Voices is a heartfelt unique performance sharing the lived experience of voice hearing, human distress and trauma that seeks to shatter stubborn myths embedded in stigma surrounding diagnosis. Presumptions and preconceptions are highlighted and questioned by actual accounts that are powerful, warm and hopeful. Tough topics are balanced with humour and energy and audiences have consistently been positive and passionate with their feedback. Listening to Voices contributes richly to the notion of connection and hope and continues to reach into spaces where communities are grappling to find meaningful explanations and solutions for human distress.
This current group consists of 6 people with lived experience, the creative director, sound and music person and the project manager. Together the impact of their theatre performances and training presentations to community, professionals and students training as health professionals has been widely acknowledged as “powerful”, “important”, “enlightening” and “the most profound yet simplistic delivery of issues relating to mental health”. It has provided understanding and confidence, ways to help and most importantly empathy and hope.
Since its inception in 2016, Listening to Voices Theatre has delivered live performance, film and educational presentations across areas of regional Victoria, NSW and in a number of major cities. The performers’ willingness to reach out and play the protagonist of their own stories is a potent means to stimulate community and professional conversations and has also inspire many audience members to stand up and say “me too”. For some it can be the beginning of meaning making and recovery and for others it is a place of empowerment and social change.
We would like to acknowledge and thank the groups and people who have supported us along the way.
The project recognises that the grassroots , peer led Albury Wodonga Hearing Voices Support Group were intrinsic to the success of this work. Many of our performers have been a part of this group over time and through the hearing voices approach have developed an understanding of their voices and emotional distress outside of a medicalized model of illness. The performers capacity to speak more openly about experiences despite historical and current stigma (particularly in media) can be attributed to the Hearing Voices Network via Intervoice Working across the world to spread positive and hopeful messages about the experience of hearing voices.
Gateway Health Listening to Voices would like to recognise the support and partnership with Charles Sturt University. Through this partnership we have been able to co-produce, with our experts by lived experience, a suite of learning enhancing resources.
We are grateful for previous support and collaborations with Albury City, City of Wodonga, North East Health Wangaratta, Merriwa Industries, Partners in Recovery, LaTrobe University, Voices Vic and Hothouse Theatre