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“Life-changing!” – Mental Health Cert 4 Student
“That was a world class talk. You don’t hear many world class talks in South Australia” – General Practitioner
“I’ve heard a lot of talks. That was the best talk I’ve ever heard” – Youth Work Cert 4 Student
“Sarah is a fantastic speaker—personable, engaging and approachable… she has an uncanny ability to explain complex concepts…. unfailingly warm, compassionate, & infused with gentle humour.” -Peer
“Thanks… for the educational & heartfelt presentation… staff… were equally impressed.” -Psychiatrist
“(It) was an amazing presentation. I couldn’t take my eyes off you for a second! (except to maybe wipe a tear or two) Loved every second of it!” – Mental Health Cert 4 Student
“(We’ve had) such positive feedback again… comments like ‘changed my thinking forever’… ‘brilliant, brave’…” – Tafe SA Lecturer
“Your honesty is a priceless gift, not only in the telling of your own story and educating others… but in the accompanying unspoken permission it gives others to speak their own truths” – Art Therapy Student
Speaking is my passion
In my first personal presentation in 2010, I outed myself as experiencing mental illness to confront the stigma and educate about my experiences. It was incredibly challenging but very well received. The following year I was invited to speak to then PM Julia Gillard about my experiences of homelessness, mental illness, and services I’d received as a consumer through Mifsa. A few months later I was flown to Melbourne for the FaHCSIA Peer Work Conference, to speak in front of a few hundred people about my consumer perspective on peer work. I had found a passion.
I’ve since honed my skills through training and have gone on to speak at international conferences, for psychiatric inpatients and staff, general practitioners, carers groups, community sector staff, youth work students, the Adelaide Fringe, and at other public arts events nationally.
While I share experiences such as queer identity, homelessness, or dissociation with many people, my skills are rare. I’m able to discuss these experiences in public; sensitively and articulately. As an artist I’m skilled at drawing people into my world and creating opportunities to experience rather than merely hear about topics. I also provide unusual context and depth through my wide reading, my years of engaging these communities, and my experience in creating resources and supporting other people.
I’m familiar with principles of adult learning and use intelligent and creative methods to engage audiences, communicate complex concepts quickly, and help people remember these new ideas. I often use poetry and personal stories to cut through what we’ve all heard before and bring an authentic, human element to my work. Many talks are illustrated with beautiful power-points of my art. I provide handouts for most talks.