About Indigo

Indigo Daya is a mad activist based in Melbourne, Australia. She works inside and outside the mental health system, seeking change that privileges the views of consumers and survivors. This blog is a space to share stories of hope, healing, improved practice and ideas for reform.

I am a survivor of child abuse, madness and forced psychiatry.

I remain outraged that the mental health system made my trauma worse by ignoring it, and then re-traumatising me all over again.

This outrage puts fire in my belly to be a passionate advocate for change.

I am a recovery expert by experience.

After years of life as a revolving door psychiatric patient, heavily medicated, unemployed and without hope, I finally found a way out. It began with a therapist and a keyworker who saw my potential rather than my limitations, and helped me to find both hope and coping skills.

But the real recovery work came down the track, from my peers and counsellors, when I began to address the real issue: not a mental ‘illness’, but the impacts of child abuse.

My life was transformed by the hearing voices approach, by trauma counselling, and peer support.

These things put hope in my heart and that keeps me fighting for change as well. Because I know, absolutely, that we can do so much better.


My work

My current roles

Human Rights Advisor, and Policy and Communications Manager

At VMIAC, the peak Victorian organisation for mental health consumers. I’m responsible for our systemic advocacy work, leading campaigns for change, writing major submissions and coordinating our online presence.

Honorary Research Fellow

At the Faculty of Law, University of Melbourne. I am working on research funded by a grant from the Melbourne Social Equity Institute. The project is exploring how different experiences influence different consumer perspectives about the mental health system.


Since 2005 I have worked in many roles across the mental health sector, including:

Government

Senior Policy Advisor in the Victorian Mental Health Branch at the Department of Health and Human Services. This included:

  • Policy advice from a consumer/survivor perspective across branch and broader department
  • Advice on clinical practice and human rights to the Chief Psychiatrist
  • Project member and trainer in the rollout of Safewards across Victorian hospitals, working to the Chief Mental Health Nurse

Community advocacy, senior roles

General Manager of Consumer and Carer Advocacy at Wellways

Board Director at Uniting Prahran Mission.

Program Management

Program manager of Voices Vic, the Hearing Voices network for Victoria, at Uniting Prahran Mission.

Consultant, trainer

Independent consulting and training services from a consumer perspective, including:

  • Consulting to clinical services
  • Training: Trauma Informed Practice, Group work, Working with voices, Recovery oriented practice, Certificate IV in Mental Health (non clinical)

Peer work, support work

Provided peer support, and general mental health support, at Uniting Prahran Mission.

Coordinated arts recovery program at Uniting Prahran Mission, including multiple groups.


Education

I like to think I have a PhD in Madness (from the university of life), from my years of madness and recovery. It has been the most important learning of my life.

I continue to learn from the journeys of those I work alongside, particularly other consumers and survivors, and this too has been critical to my life and work.

My more traditional qualifications include:

  • Bachelor of Business (Communication)
  • Diploma of Management
  • Certificate IV in Workplace Training and Assessment
  • Psychology: five units in Grad Dip Psychology
  • Numerous short courses, including Emotional CPR, Power Threat Meaning Framework, Hearing Voices Approach, Voice Dialogue, Intentional Peer Support (IPS) and much more. I have trained with Rufus May, Eleanor Longden, Jacqui Dillon, Dr Dirk Corstens, Dr Lucy Johnstone, Prof Marius Romme, Dr Sandra Escher, Ron Coleman, Karen Taylor, Peter Bullimore

2 Comments
  1. Hi! I am in the US (Michigan). We are in the process of developing a lot of groups. Oryx Cohen and Will Hall came to our state and trained 26 Peer Support Specialists in HVN group facilitation. My friend Rosie and I have been giving talks about the history, philosophy and practices of HVN. You can see the number of talks I’ve done on the website I created. I am also doing talks at service organizations (Rotary, Lions Club, Knights of Columbus) about the stigma of mi. My recovery is due to 3 serendipitous encounters with Ron Coleman. I usually give my story and then Rosie does the power point part of our presentation. Rosie has encountered some difficulties and can no longer work with me. I am not qualified to teach. I don’t have a degree in anything. I am not a certified PSS. I was the director of a library {with only 4 years of college and 14 years of experience and a professional storyteller {crowds don’t bother me} but I have no degree in anything {can’t pass math or science} but I have taken every Psych and Soc class available. Am I qualified to be doing these trainings? I read that you’ve been in charge of peers. So I think you are the best person to ask. Thank you for your time. I am so impressed with your website and your story. I really identify with you in many ways. Including my label. I read your story to our Stigma Busters group today at my psychosocial rehab center. It was so perfect. I have started 2 groups I facilitate 1. Even facilitating feels inappropriate to me. I love it though. We are there to support and love each other. It’s great! But am I overstepping my bounds? Take care, I look forward to hearing from you.

    • Hi Mary,

      Thanks so much for commenting – and it sounds like HVN Michigan is doing fantastic work! A few things I have to say to you:

      1. You are ABSOLUTELY qualified to be doing this work. Our most important expertise as peer workers comes from our lived experience, and our most important skill is our passion. Sounds to me like you have both in great quantities. Of course we can always build on our skills, but it sounds to me like you are very open to learning as you work.
      2. It also sounds to me like you have lots of qualifications anyway! 🙂 I know plenty of people doing work like you who dropped out of high school. Why are we always so much harder on ourselves than we are on others? *wry grin* (I do this to myself as well)
      3. Nevertheless, it’s always nicer for us and our audiences when there are a few of us, so keep your eyes open for people in groups who might be willing to join you in giving talks. It might take a while but if you’re persistent then you’ll find the right people in time.
      4. Remember that you’re not alone – there are hundreds if not thousands of us all over the world doing this work!
      5. If you worry about facilitating then why not ask your group how they feel about your style, and for honest but kind feedback on how you can improve? I always advise facilitators that whenever they are unsure, then ask the group. Remember that with peer work we have different boundaries, and it’s more than OK to be vulnerable and to ask for help from the people we are supporting. It can actually be really empowering.
      6. I’ll be adding more resources to this site over time for peer workers, educators and facilitators so stay tuned. I’ll be running training as well, but it’s probably a bit hard to get to Melbourne! Give me time though, and I also hope to get some online training onto the site that people can access from anywhere.

      Ron has made huge contributions to my own recovery, so I hear you. Hang in there Mary, and stay in touch! 🙂

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