Our Collaborative journey to creating a Safe Space: Practical tips and reflections on collaboration and lived experience advocacy

Lived Experience of Suicide Summit Workshop


Organisation Involved: Illawarra Shoalhaven Suicide Prevention Collaborative

Workshop Facilitators: Jo Riley (Program Manager), Carrie Lumby (Lived Experience Executive Member), Stephen Scott & Alex Haines

Workshop Duration: 2 hours


One of the guiding principles of the Illawarra Shoalhaven Suicide Prevention Collaborative (the Collaborative) has been the meaningful integration of people with lived experience at all levels. This workshop will provide Summit participants with an opportunity to gain insight into the Collaborative way of working through the lens of the development of our region’s Safe Space – a textbook case study of what can be achieved when people with lived experience at a grassroots level are given the opportunity to ‘blue sky dream’ and the resources and support to realise this dream.  

The idea for a local Safe Space was born out of the experience of the Collaborative’s lived experience members’ participation in the first Roses in the Ocean LE Summit in 2018 which led to the formation of its Safe Space Working Group. This group developed a regional Safe Space proposal which formed the basis of the model that was formally co-designed as part of the NSW Ministry of Health’s Alternatives to emergency departments (“Safe Haven”) initiative in 2020. The Illawarra Shoalhaven’s Safe Haven opened its doors in May 2021 and has been implemented with fidelity to the community designed model.  

 The session will begin with a presentation on the development of the Illawarra Shoalhaven Safe Haven as a case study in collaboration in action. A panel discussion moderated by Jo Riley will follow where panelists Alex Hains, Stephen Scott and Carrie Lumby will reflect on key personal and professional learnings from their involvement in this once-in-a-generation systems innovation initiative. There will also be opportunity for workshop participants to pose questions for the panellists in the second part of the session. 


Expected Workshop Outcomes:

  • Practical tips and tools for lived experience advocacy
  • Practical tips for building the conditions for collaboration between traditional experts and experts by experience
  • Increased knowledge of the opportunities and challenges of meaningfully including people with lived experience in the design and development of new suicide prevention services