Our Consumer Place was a resource centre run entirely by people diagnosed with "mental illness" (we choose to call ourselves "consumers"). We provided information, training, support and advice to consumer-run groups and projects (or more specifically, "Consumer Developed Initiatives" (CDIs)). We also support what we call "consumer perspective," recognising that the lived experience of "mental illness" provides a crucial source of insight that is of value and must be respected. We believe that we are part of an important cultural shift, towards valuing and respecting the lived experience of "mental illness."
Our Consumer Place has been developed by consumers for consumers. It was auspiced by Our Community. We acknolwedge the support of the Victorian Government.
The Our Consumer Place Team
Merinda Epstein (Founding & Current Team Member)
A cartoonist, writer, teacher, learner, chronicler, historian and activist, Merinda has lived, fought and taught her way through 22 years of active service for people diagnosed with 'mental illness' in Australia. Merinda contributed her energy to Our Consumer Place for years, believing it provided an ideal hub for intergenerational change, mentoring, the preservation of the history of activism, and the provision of a smorgasbord of skills, knowledge, information, training and specific technical support for all groups of people connected through their experience of madness, badness and sadness. A co-winner of the 2004 Australian Human Rights Award in the Community Category, Merinda holds a deep belief that it is time for 'consumers' to develop their own ways of doing things - their own groups, their own services, their own networks, websites and small business. She believes that with unity and respect for each other, and a rigorous understanding of what groups need to know to function well, we can achieve much more together - in our own groups and human rights troupes - than we can as individual atolls in the sea of pretty tough politics that surrounds mental health service provision in this country.
Flick Grey (Former Team Member)
An academic sociologist by training, a questioner and acrobat by disposition, Flick identifies as a survivor - surviving trauma, debilitating mental distress and re-traumatisation from mental health services (including being labelled with some shaming diagnoses). She has sought healing largely through political engagement, human connection, creativity, critique and deep understanding. Flick has been involved in the consumer world since 2005. Her vision is for consumers/survivors to be enabled to get the supports we desire to follow our own paths through madness/'mental illness'/distress, including support to work out how we make meaning from these experiences.
Jon Kroschel (Founding Team Member)
Jon Kroschel is Melbourne based and has been pro-active in the Australian Mental Health Consumer movement for over 20 years. Jon is the Consumer Consultant for Alfred Psychiatry, the Director of Participatory Action Research (PAR) at Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre, a Director on the Board of Directors of the Quality Improvement Council of Australia and New Zealand (QIC) and a member of the International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership (IIMHL). Jon has received many awards for his work. His field of expertise lies in innovative project development and evaluation in mental health and consumer settings.
Cath Roper (Founding Team Member)
Cath calls herself a survivor (of involuntary mental health service use). She became a teacher, then a mental health consumer consultant and more recently, a consumer academic at the Centre for Psychiatric Nursing. She teaches post graduate mental health nurses at the University of Melbourne and is involved with research and education. Although definitely mad, she believes consumers should have opportunities to shape their own lives, with the same rights and privileges as all members of our community.