Home » Recovery Forum Project 2

Recovery - Moving Recovery Oriented Service Provision from Policy to Practice in NSW

One of NSWCAG's key lobbying areas is for improvement in the provision of recovery oriented service provision. Through consultations with consumers throughout the state, we have heard and observed that although "recovery oriented service provision" is a clear government policy direction for mental health care in Australia, this has not been realised in practice. One reason is that there has been no discussion within NSW around what recovery oriented services are. A component of NSWCAG's advocacy work has therefore been to further the development of truly recovery based services in NSW.

What is recovery?

Recovery means different things to different people - and that is because every person has unique experiences and responds to mental illness in their own way. There are many different definitions on what recovery is, including that it may be a process (journey) for some people and an outcome (being well) for others, and for this reason the way that each person defines recovery will be different, depending on their individual circumstances and perceptions.

Recovery may mean:

  • Being able to live a meaningful life
  • Being symptom free or having control over one's symptoms
  • Healing
  • Being able to participate in the community
  • Taking responsibility
  • Having good relationships
  • Having a positive identity
  • Being able to share experiences and stories
  • Making certain life adjustments
  • Overcoming stigma and discrimination
  • Understanding the illness
  • Knowing how to stay well
  • Having goals
  • Having a healthy lifestyle, and
  • Living with or without mental illness

Thus, recovery is about people being able to live a meaningful life with hope for the future, with support from professionals, peers, family and friends, when needed. This view supports that everyone who experiences a mental illness can experience recovery.

NSWCAG is aware that there is difficulty in defining recovery within mental health services, with conflict between the clinical view of recovery, which says recovery is about getting better and no longer having symptoms or needing treatment, and the personal view of recovery.

Clinical View of Recovery:
The clinical view of recovery stems from the medical model in health care, where recovery is seen as being objective (not based on human thought or feeling). Recovery is understood to be a return to a former state of health. Through the clinical view, recovery is measured through reduced symptoms, hospitalisation and medication use. This concept is similar to the everyday use of the term "recovery" where it is associated with "being cured".

Personal View of Recovery:
The personal view of recovery is viewed as a journey that is a unique and personal experience for each individual. It has often been said to be about: gaining and retaining hope, understanding of ones abilities and limitations, engagement in an active life, personal autonomy, social identity, meaning and purpose in life, and a positive sense of self. Essentially, the personal view of recovery is about a life journey of living a meaningful and satisfying life.

Report on the 2013 Regional Recovery Forum, Orange

On Wednesday 11th September, 2013 NSWCAG held its first regional Recovery Forum in Orange, NSW. The theme of the forum was ‘Consumer Participation & Recovery’. Over fifty people attended the forum from across the region, including Mudgee, Cowra, Dubbo and Bathurst.

Some Highlights:

TheDeputy Commissioner of the Mental Health Commission of NSW (MHC), Bradley Foxlewin spoke about ‘Lived Experience Drives Reform’. Bradley reflected on his own lived experience as a mental health consumer and a consumer advocate, and gave examples of how lived experience of mental illness has driven research and systemic reform. One example he gave is a consumer-led research study in the ACT on the reduction in seclusion at the Psychiatric Services Unit at the Canberra Hospital. You can read about it in the report, ‘What is happening at the Seclusion Review that makes a difference?’ (2012), which is available at: http://www.actmhcn.org.au/publications/research.html

A panel of four people who have a lived experience of mental illness discussed the Challenges and Successes of Consumer Participation.  Panel presenters were Bradley Foxlewin, Jenny Coleman, Peter Fotakis, and Kerry Finnegan. Each panel presenter shared their own thoughts and lived experiences on how to participate meaningfully and effectively in different spheres of life.

As the theme of our annual forums is consumer participation, all the workshops were designed to explore issues about this.  The Mental Health Commission of NSW also held two workshops, Opportunity for Change, to get input from consumers to inform the development of their Strategic Plan to reform mental health care in NSW. 

Dr Peri O’Shea facilitated a workshop, ‘Participation: beyond ’us and them’, which explored the pros & cons of disclosure of mental illness. Click here Click here to read what people said in this workshop

Julie Proctor, Mental Health Promotion & Prevention Officer at the Health Promotion & Prevention Unit at Bloomfield Hospital in Orange, facilitated a workshop, ‘What does Recovery mean to you?’ The workshop explored what Recovery meant to each workshop participant, and it found both common grounds and shared understanding. Click here Click here to read what people said in this workshop.

A very big THANK YOU to everyone who joined us at the forum for their participation and enthusiasm! We hope you gained as much from the forum as we did from your input.

Also, a huge THANK YOU to Jenny Coleman and Julie Proctor for their assistance in organising the forum.




NSWCAG's Recovery Forum 2012 - Consumer Participation

Information coming soon.



NSWCAG’s Recovery Forum 2011 – Trauma Informed Care

NSW held our third annual Recovery Forum on Tuesday 15 November 2011. The forum looked at Trauma Informed Care (TIC) and Recovery, and brought together people with lived experience of mental illness (consumers) from all over NSW to talk about what role trauma informed approach to care and service delivery has in supporting a person’s recovery.

Dr Cathy Kezelman was the keynote speaker, along with a panel of consumers and service providers, talking about their experiences, services and research around trauma informed care. 

NSWCAG also wanted to find out what other issues consumers thought CAG should be advocating for in 2012. There were roundtable consultations, and interactive workshops facilitated by Milk Crate Theatre.

NSWCAG focused on TIC as a priority because we had heard from consumers who have experienced a range of traumas, and then have interacted with services that have re-traumatised them again, which hinders their personal recovery.

This Forum was an opportunity for everyone to learn from each other, and to discuss what needs to happen at the policy and service delivery levels to make the provision of trauma informed care a reality, so that people are treated in a way that supports their recovery. 

NSWCAG  2011 Recovery Forum - Dr. Peri O'Shea (NSWCAG's CEO) Introduction


(Part 1 of 4) NSWCAG 2011 Recovery Forum Keynote Speaker Dr Cathy Kezelman


(Part 2 of 4) NSWCAG 2011 Recovery Forum Keynote Speaker Dr Cathy Kezelman




(Part 3 of 4) NSWCAG 2011 Recovery Forum Keynote Speaker Dr Cathy Kezelman


(Part 4 of 4) NSWCAG 2011 Recovery Forum Keynote Speaker Dr Cathy Kezelman





Other presenters on the day

Paula Hanlon


Gwen Scotman





Leticia Funston


Ken Zulumovski







NSWCAG's Recovery Forum 2010 - Moving Forward Towards Recovery

NSWCAG held our second Recovery Forum - Moving Forward Towards Recovery. The purpose of the forum was to further explore some of the specific outcomes from the 2009 inaugural forum - Moving Recovery from Policy to Practice.

The 2010 recovery forum was a big success with over 51 people from different backgrounds attending, including consumers, carers, policy and decision makers, and researchers. Outcomes from the 2010 Recovery Forum will be complied in a report and distributed to our network in the near future.

NSWCAG is drawing on this work to inform the development of a formal position on progressing recovery oriented services in NSW. This will provide a concrete direction for NSWCAG to lobby and inform NSW Health around what is needed to advance recovery oriented service provision in NSW.

For further information please contact NSWCAG on info@nswcag.org.au  


NSWCAG's 2009 Recovery Forum

NSWCAG hears through consultation with consumers and through our network that consumers want services that are going to:

  • Work with their own definition of recovery, and
  • Offer hope in their recovery process.

In order to define recovery oriented service provision successfully, NSWCAG noted that discussions needed to happen between the people who use, experience and deliver mental health services in NSW. The discussions needed to come from the knowledge and experience of consumers, carers, service providers, administrators, government representatives and academics.

The Recovery Forum was hosted by NSWCAG on the 10th December 2009, with the aim of producing concrete actions for progressing recovery oriented mental health service provision in NSW. Helen Glover who is an internationally renowned lecturer and trainer in recovery oriented practice, who also has the lived experience of mental illness, was engaged by NSWCAG to facilitate the day. About 120 people from diverse backgrounds and experiences in mental health services within the state, including consumers, carers, service providers, clinicians, academics, researchers, NGO representatives, Area Health Service staff and representatives from NSW Health, including the Director of Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol Office attended the day.

World Café
The structure of the Recovery Forum was based on the World Café facilitative process. World Café is an internationally utilised conversation process that allows all participants to contribute equally to ideas and discussions. During the day participants sat at round tables, where everyone had the opportunity to contribute to the discussions on the questions that were posed.

During each discussion, opportunities were allowed for people to move between tables to create a "cross-pollination" of ideas, to create richer thinking, and encourage diverse perspectives to be shared. Participants were asked to capture their ideas on the paper table cloths, to ensure all the experience and expertise in the room was recorded.

Introduction to the day
The Recovery Forum was opened by NSWCAG's Executive Officer Karen Oakley, and was followed by an interview between Karen and Helen. The interview set the tone for the remainder of the day. During the interview, Helen identified several key issues in delivering recovery oriented services in NSW, such as:

  • The need to address the effectiveness of the recovery environment, noting that the role of mental health services is to provide a conducive environment for people's recovery journey
  • The need for all mental health service workers to believe in the consumer's ability to recover from mental illness
  • For consumers to recognise their own voice, and draw upon their own expertise and experience to enhance their recovery journey, and
  • Connecting the expertise and experience of everyone involved in experiencing and delivering mental health services to inform service delivery

NSWCAG videotaped the interview between Karen and Helen. To view it please click on the links below:

(Part 1 of 4) Moving Recovery from Policy to Practice - Interview with Helen Glover


(Part 2 of 4) Moving Recovery from Policy to Practice - Interview with Helen Glover




(Part 3 of 4) Moving Recovery from Policy to Practice - Interview with Helen Glover


 (Part 4 of 4) Moving Recovery from Policy to Practice - Interview with Helen Glover




2009 Recovery Forum Outcomes Paper:

The 2009 Recovery Forum aimed to find out the views of people who use and provide mental health services around the topic of recovery oriented service provision. Conversations held during the day are being drawn on to create a discussion paper to assist NSWCAG in continuing this discussion with people. The outcomes from the discussion paper will then be drawn on to inform NSWCAG's formal position on progressing recovery oriented service provision in NSW. This will provide a concrete direction for NSWCAG to lobby and inform NSW Health around what is needed to advance recovery oriented service provision in NSW.

To read NSWCAG 2009 Recovery Forum Outcomes Paper click here..

 For further information on the Recovery Forum please contact NSWCAG at info@nswcag.org.au.


Copyright © NSWCAG 2017. All rights reserved.