This is a face-to-face meeting at the RACV Club.

If you would like to visit our meeting, please book directly through Humanitix by close of business on Friday, 2 December 2022. If you would like a more general discussion about attending a Rotary meeting, phone 0455-858-996.

The meeting will commence at 7:40am and conclude no later than 8:45.

Prof Renata Kokanović: Learning from the lived experience

Professor Renata Kokanović will reflect on the importance of a resource such as Healthtalk Australia to support people experiencing mental health concerns, their families, but also to raise awareness of mental health and the importance of empathy in the community. The collection of health and illness narratives on Healthtalk Australia is a particularly powerful mechanism for doing this. The use of individual, personal narratives allow people to share their health and illness experiences in their own words, which provides a rich context and in-depth understanding that is unavailable from other sources.

Healthtalk Australia ( is a unique audio-visual database that offers resources that can be accessed by many people who may face serious challenges to their health, and who want to understand what they’re likely to go through from others who have been similarly affected. Hearing the experience of others can reduce the anxiety and isolation that people experiencing ill health and their families often feel when faced with significant ill health. Hearing how others have addressed the challenges they face can give practical insights that support self-management and make it easier to engage with professionals and often confusing health and social care systems. The insight our research can give clinicians and policy makers also supports their capacity for effective interaction with people experiencing ill health and in particular their ability to engage with supported decision making.

Renata will also briefly talk about The Big Anxiety mental health festival she co-directed with Jill Bennet (University of New South Wales) that ran in Melbourne from the 21st September to 15th October 2022. The Big Anxiety focused on the lived experience of mental health and trauma, and explored the diverse ways in which creative approaches to mental health concerns can provide valuable psychosocial supports in the community.

Renata Kokanović is Director of the Social and Global Studies Centre at RMIT University, and is a Professor of Health Sociology. She leads a research group focused on exploring mental health concerns, including people with lived experience of mental distress and their families supporting them. Renata also researches the perspectives of mental health care providers to increase understanding about how mental health care is delivered in the context of the broader health system. She collaborates with a wide range of industry partners, including government, not-for-profit organisations that support people with mental health concerns, and people with lived experience to co-produce digital health resources. Renata has received significant funding from a wide range of government and industry sources including Australian Research Council, National Health and Medical Research Council, National Mental Health Commission, Victorian Department of Health, and others.

Renata co-founded and has been director of Healthtalk Australia since 2012. Healthtalk Australia is a unique digital archive of health stories promoting lived experience as evidence for improving health service provision. A key recent area of focus has been the lived experience mental health with projects including: Borderline Personality as Social Phenomena, Physical Health Experiences of People who have Accessed Mental Health Services, and Mental Health Care in the Emergency Department. Healthtalk Australia is designed to support people with lived experience of mental health concerns, their families and social networks. It has been developed to contribute to policy development for the improvement of mental health service design, and advocate for positive change to promote the agency and self-determination of people experiencing mental distress.