our lived experience collective

trained, supported and ready to contribute

Our Lived Experience Collective is comprised of lived experience champions across Australia who are equipped with the expertise and skills needed to bring their lived experience as a voice of change in all aspects of suicide prevention.

They have undertaken training to harness and build their capacity to participate in suicide prevention activities.

Suicide touches people from all walks of life. Our lived experience of suicide is just one part of who we are. Roses in the Ocean engages the whole person and facilitates opportunities to harness individuals’ diverse skill sets and expertise. In doing so, we have created a passionate, skilled Collective which, when combined with the insights drawn from personal lived experience of suicide, offers an invaluable resource to stem the suicide tide.

In order to leverage the skills, capabilities and expertise of people with a lived experience of suicide, we first must ensure that these people are ready to be involved, are safe and supported, trained in appropriate messaging and language, and possess current and accurate knowledge of suicide and suicide prevention.

At Roses in the Ocean we recognise that individuals have unique capabilities and different abilities to get involved in volunteer work. Our volunteers are offered the opportunity to engage at different levels in the Collective from ‘dip your toe in’ opportunities like helping out at a local community awareness event or completing a survey through to in-depth, skilled and representative involvement in policy and program development, advocacy and peer-to-peer support initiatives.

Contact us for information about being part of our Lived Experience Collective.

Name: Vivienne Blennerhassett
Nature of lived experience:
I lost my only child to suicide in 2015,  He had suffered with a mental illness since late 2011.  My passion is to improve awareness and education about the linkage between mental illness and potential suicide.
Name: Kate McLoughlin
Nature of lived experience:
I lost my 19 yo son unexpectedly to suicide in March 2016,  After an address at Zach’s funeral was posted on social media gaining an international response, I have been interviewed about my lived experience by Paul Kennedy of ABC News and Wayne Schwass of Puka Up.  I have spoken to many sporting clubs and am a member of Chasing Change – Mornington Peninsula Suicide Prevention.
Name: Riki Benton
Nature of lived experience:
I am a suicide attempt survivor who lives with an Acquired Brain Injury.  In 2017 I appeared on  ABC’s “You Can’t Ask That” Series.  I have experience public speaking and am undertaking peer support roles in youth mental health.
Lived Experience Collective Speakers Bronwen Edwards
Name: Bronwen Edwards
Nature of lived experience:
Bronwen lost her brother Mark to suicide in 2008.  For many years she tried to find the right help for him as he struggled after being placed on prescription medication despite not ever suffering a mental illness.  In 2011, she founded Roses in the Ocean, and has advocated for the voices of all those with a lived experience of suicide to be heard.  She has a broad perspective of suicide having worked, trained and supported people with lived experience for many years, as well as working at a strategic level to change how suicide prevention is approached in Australia.
Lived Experience Collective Speakers Susanne Armstrong
Name: Susanne Armstrong
Nature of lived experience: 
I am nurse and grief counsellor with a multiple perspective lived experience of suicide. I have my own experience as a teenager and with Post-Natal Depression; and a family who suffer with complex mental illness and suicidality.
I have experienced the sudden loss of my god-daughter, and have vast experience counselling and supporting individuals and families who have experienced the tragic loss of a loved one.
I currently research the intergenerational nature of PTSD and understand the vicarious effects of working alongside people experiencing trauma. I promote creative writing and art as a form of expression, to enable post-traumatic growth, and give voice to those silenced by the impact of trauma.
Lived Experience Collective Speakers Mark Davis
Name: Mark Davis
Nature of lived experience: 
I lost my partner to suicide which has led me to contemplate suicide myself.
Lived Experience Collective Speakers Warrick Bidwell
Name: Warrick Bidwell
Nature of lived experience:
After marriage and divorce within a 6 month period at 24 years of age I had my first brush with suicide. 15 years later due to me keeping it a secret through shame and embarrassment, I had my second encounter with suicide after another marriage break down. Working with tradies and business owners as a coach I now see first-hand the signs that people aren’t “ok”. There is another way!
Lived Experience Collective Speakers Erin Oldman
Name: Erin Oldman
Nature of lived experience:
ASIST trained Mates in Construction Connector. Lived experience of family, friends and multiple construction worker losses. Interested in speaking at a variety of events, flexible availability, able to speak to small or large groups.
Lived Experience Collective Speakers Soraya Saraswati
Name: Soraya Saraswati
Nature of lived experience:
I lost my 17 year old son and 50 year old brother to suicide. I authored a book about overcoming the grief of loss by suicide. “Shining Through: From Grief to Gratitude”. I am a mindfulness and yoga teacher and therapist.
Lived Experience Collective Speakers
Name: Julie Mudge
Nature of lived experience:
Lived experience of loosing a same sex partner through suicide
Lived Experience Collective Speakers
Name: Kynan McInnes
Nature of lived experience:
Young male, struggled with depression and suicidal tendancies earlier through teenage years including attempts on my life and recurring thoughts of attempts.
Lived Experience Collective Speakers
Name: Leanne Andrew
Nature of lived experience:
Long history of suicidal ideation & 3 past attenpts
Lived Experience Collective Speakers
Name: Anne Finegan
Nature of lived experience:
I am a Registered Nurse and Educator with post graduate qualifications in Palliative Care and Health Management. My 20 year old son Josh died by Suicide in December 2010. I facilitate a Survivors of Suicide Bereavement Support group in Cairns as well as being the contact person and crisis support phone contact for The Compassionate Friends.
Lived Experience Collective Speakers
Name: Marianne Joseph
Nature of lived experience:
Depression, trauma related mental health, negotiating the complex mental health system, the resources available
Lived Experience Collective Speakers
Name: Claire Howard
Nature of lived experience:
My lived experience is as a Mum who has lost a bright, intelligent son to suicide,  who may have chosen a different path,  if given the right support at the crucial time.  In my maelstrom of grief,  I have  realized I have suppressed my own anxiety and depression my whole life, through fear of condemnation.  In encouraging others to talk openly about mental health and suicide prevention, I have a responsibility to also talk about my own struggles, which I am now addressing through therapy.
Lived Experience Collective Speakers Pip Seldon
Name: Pip Seldon
Nature of lived experience:

Pip Seldon is a Construction Project Manager, Health & Nutrition Coach, Yoga Instructor, TEDx Speaker and Founder of the Healthy Tradie Project.

Her journey began in 2009 after the loss of her eldest brother, a carpenter, to suicide.  Her mission through the Healthy Tradie Project is “to support tradies in living a healthier, happier life with movement, mindfulness and real whole food.”

Pip believes that wellness exists in all of us and through the right nutrition, exercise and lifestyle practices, we can each unveil our healthiest self – physically, mentally and emotionally.

In her quest to implement a proactive approach to safety and suicide prevention, Pip founded the Healthy Tradie Project and now delivers Healthy Tradie Workshops, Health & Nutrition Coaching, Yoga and Mindfulness Meditation to construction industry workers.  You can find Pip on construction sites around Australia leading teams of Tradies in high-vis, boots and hard hats through her unique movement and mindfulness practice.

Lived Experience Collective Speakers Sue Pearce
Name: Sue Pearce
Nature of lived experience:
My son was 39yo when he took his life. He had just been diagnosed as bipolar & was having a lot of issues adjusting to that after 4 consecutive hospital admissions. He died within 4 days of his final discharge.
Back in his late teens & early 20s, ha had been an elite athlete at the AIS but lost his scholarship after diagnosis with a severe arthritic condition.
Lived Experience Collective Speakers Mark Jacobsen
Name: Mark Jacobsen
Nature of lived experience:
Construction industry worker, ASIST Trained through Mates In Construction. I was about to make an attempt on my life in 2012 before reaching out to my girlfriend, she talked to me, as a best friend, and there began my first step to seeking professional help and my road to recovery.
Since then I have endeavoured to use my experience as a tool to help others who might find themselves in a similar circumstance, I do advocacy work for Mates In Construction and am also a trained ASIST worker.
Lived Experience Collective Speakers Peta Dampney
Name: Peta Dampney
Nature of lived experience:
Lived experience of surviving an attempt, being bereaved by suicide and intervening in suicide attempts. Also the daughter of a mental health nurse. Formerly a high school teacher, also a mum to a 1.5 year old and very interested in women’s mental health.
Lived Experience Collective Speakers Ian Carter
Name: Ian Carter
Nature of lived experience:
I am a suicide survivor with a story that spans 25 years and covers everything from childhood sexual abuse and domestic violence to a protracted custody battle following my divorce and work place bullying post being a victim of sexual assault as an adult. I can talk with first hand authority about being both a survivor and bereaved by suicide.
Lived Experience Collective Speakers
Name: Jessica Tatt
Nature of lived experience:
I am in the construction industry, my story incorporates a hard upbringing, relates to family based issues with a very sick child but also relates to mental health in the workforce, return to work, GAD, depression, PTSS, PN depression.
Lived Experience Collective Speakers
Name: Amber Dawes
Nature of lived experience:
I work in Construction and my mother (nurse) suffers severe depression and anxiety and has attempted suicide in excess of 10 times, once been brought back to life and my father (tradie) has attempted once. I am now my mothers carer and have been dealing with her in and out of institutions for 11 years, starting when I was 14 years old.
Lived Experience Collective Speakers Kent Weightman
Name: Kent Weightman
Nature of lived experience:
Have known 5 people (2 work colleagues and 3 friends) who have completed suicide and have also prevented a suicide from happening while working in the construction industry
Lived Experience Collective Speakers Alannah McGregor
Name: Alannah McGregor
Nature of lived experience:
My daughter and son died by suicide one month apart in 2002. I am a carer for my grand daughter and a retired nurse.
Lived Experience Collective Speakers
Name: Lisa Dean
Nature of lived experience:
We lost our 17 year old son to suicide. We had no idea he was in such despair. Our other son has PTSD now from this experience. I have been a secondary teacher and am now in a Primary school. I have extensive experience working with Non English speaking people too.
Lived Experience Collective Speakers
Name: Melissa Yu
Nature of lived experience:
My boyfriend died by suicide in our family home in January 2014. He was 23 at the time and we were together for 6 years. I now run an events company based in Melbourne and everything I do is fuelled by his presence and his soul’s existence.
Lived Experience Collective Speakers Matthew Brescacin
Name: Matthew Brescacin
Nature of lived experience:
I was the family member who found my older brother after his successful attempt on his own life, being the two sons in the family of four siblings, my older brother and I had a very strong connection.
Since the passing of Colin I have learnt to seek and find positivity and possibilities in every situation and become a stronger person because of it. I now have redirected my life to help others do the same with their own lives.
Lived Experience Collective Speakers
Name: Jeremy Williams
Nature of lived experience:
Having overcome severe clinical depression and having learned some great tools for life I know I have a great story to tell. I want to share my experience and demonstrate a way out. By following my heart, finding my successful menu of life I have real tools to share that people may want to try.
Lived Experience Collective Speakers
Name: Jason St Martin
Nature of lived experience:
I can relate to widows/widowers, divorced people, parental alienation, FIFO/working away from home.  Depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety.  Blue collar workers.
Name: Stefani Caminiti
Nature of lived experience:
Stefani Caminiti is the CEO and founder of The Inner Ninja Foundation; a mental wellness and suicide prevention charity that utilises the voice of lived expertise and education.
Stefani not only has a personal experience with suicide and mental illness but also has completed her degree in psychology and counseling. Stefani has over 11 years experience volunteering and working in the sector. Stefani’s work in the mental health space has gained international attention with Australia’s own Daniel Ricciardo formula 1 driver being an ambassador for inner Ninja and sharing her story in the USA multiple times last year.
Name: Rich Papais
Nature of lived experience:
I am a Lived Experience Advocate, I have lived with Suicide thoughts all my life and seven years ago I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder(PSTD).
From that point in my life thoughts became actions. I am able to relate and show empathy with PTSD, Ex Service Personnel, Alcohol Dependant people, Suicidal people.
I am a grass roots person and speak from my heart.
Name: Lyn Symes
Nature of lived experience:
I live on a property of 100000 acres and have 10 dogs.  I am looking forward to doing more and learning more about suicide, and meeting more people involved in suicide prevention.
Name: Rheanna Oppenlander
Nature of lived experience:
Hi, I’m Rheanna.  I’ve lost my younger brother to suicide.  I hope to bring our community together to create support networks and opportunities for people to speak up, and in turn to reduce the rates of suicide.
Name: Diane White
Nature of lived experience:
My name is Di, Mum of 3 and Grandmother of 1, and I’m a suicide survivor. I am looking forward to being involved with Roses in the Ocean and spreading the message of suicide prevention.
Name: Simone Benham
Nature of lived experience:
I am bereaved by suicide.  I love country living and work in hospitality.
Name: Barbara Matson
Nature of lived experience:
I am touched by suicide and work in the Health industry.  I am passionate about travelling around in Australia in a caravan.
Name: Pamela Bibby
Nature of lived experience:
Lived experience of surviving attempts and being bereaved by suicide.  Have a passion for suicide prevention, currently on the steering committee of our local Murray Primary Health Network led Mildura Suicide Prevention Trial.