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World of Difference gains Australasian award

World of Difference image
The World of Difference team with the award.

The World of Difference service user education and research group is the recipient of a Lived Experience Leadership Award from The Mental Health Strategies Learning Network (The MHS) Service and Program Awards.

World of Difference, run through the Department of Psychological Medicine at the University of Otago, Wellington, is an education and research programme, aimed at ending discrimination and promoting recovery, inclusion and respect for those who experience mental distress, is fully led and delivered by those with lived experience.

“It is really important to have the involvement of service users in decisions about policy and service delivery. The evidence of the importance of this programme is the real-world impact it has had across a range of sectors.”

Programme lead Dr Sarah Gordon accepted the award virtually for the team on Monday night and says it was a privilege to do so on behalf of all of those with lived experience who are involved with the World of Difference work.

"The contribution of each and every one of us is critical to our success. It is an honour to have had our work recognised in this way. We are thankful to the University for the support they provide and particularly to our colleagues in the Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Otago, Wellington.”

Dean of the Wellington Campus Professor William Levack says it is fantastic to see the World of Difference programme being given the recognition it deserves.

“It is really important to have the involvement of service users in decisions about policy and service delivery. The evidence of the importance of this programme is the real-world impact it has had across a range of sectors.”
The MHS Learning Network aims to improve mental health services in Australia and New Zealand. It holds events to bring people together from across Australia and New Zealand to stimulate debates that challenge the boundaries of present knowledge and ideas about mental health care and mental health systems.

The Lived Experience Leadership Award celebrates services or programmes where significant leadership is provided by those who have personally experienced a mental illness/unhealth/ ill health or unwellness.

Fully led and delivered by those with lived experience, World of Difference aims to contribute to creating a different world – one where experiences of mental distress are recognised and respected as an element of natural human difference and diversity, and are not a barrier to being able to experience recovery, inclusion, and to exercise human rights on an equal basis with all others.

Since 2011, nearly NZ$1.4 million in funding has been secured in support of service user-led education and research and more than NZ$1.7 million in support of co-produced research.

Funding sources include Te Hiringa Hauora/Health Promotion Agency, the Mental Health Foundation, the Ministry of Health, the NZ Police and the Royal Marsden research fund. The work of the World of Difference team is being recognised locally, nationally and internationally.