Help End Discrimination

Please support me to go to the World Congress on Mental Health to continue the fight for the human rights of people with a lived experience of mental health in the workplace.

I have accepted an invitation by the World Federation of Mental Health (WFMH) to be on their Mental Health Lived Experience panel at the World Congress of Mental Health November 2017 in New Delhi, India. My invitation to the World Congress was a result of my years of advocacy re addressing stigma and discrimination in the workplace and my passion to make a real difference in this area. I have also written a couple of articles on Mental Health in the Workplace for the WFMH.  After my commitment to the WFMH in India I will continue to do presentations and workshops re addressing stigma and discrimination in workplaces.

Stigma and Discrimination in workplaces is a global issue. I believe discrimination against people with a lived experience of mental health in workplaces could potentially be the biggest modern day systemic failure with regards to consumer rights. The rights of people with a lived experience of mental health are being deliberately denied and not adequately acknowledged in their communities and workplaces in Australia and around the world.

The culture of perpetuating stigma and discrimination has been allowed to go on for so long
in some communities, workplaces, care and justice environments and organisations that it has become ‘normalised’, acceptable and at times invisible to many. These unlawful and discriminatory practices need immediate attention; stigma and related discriminatory attitudes and practices must be addressed, responded to, and prohibited.

Discriminatory practices (including bullying) against lived experienced workers (Peer Workers) is also wide spread and needs to be addressed immediately. 
The biggest challenge and barrier to genuine and meaningful involvement of the lived experience voice and a thriving Peer Workforce in Australia is still the culture of some organisations and bureaucracies.  Lack of genuine and meaningful inclusion speaks for itself.

It is important to note that there are a number of countries that are genuinely and meaningfully doing some great work to help reduce the extent of stigma and discrimination experienced by their citizens who are living with a mental health problem or disorder.

However, there are many other nations that ought to be doing a lot more than they are.
They have the standard of living, the legal frameworks, the knowledge and belief in equity for citizens and the groundswell of advocacy. They ignore that responsibility.

This year the World Mental Health Day Theme for 2017 is Mental Health in the Workplace.

I have created this GoFundMe page to seek your assistance in securing sponsorship to assist me to attend the World Congress to continue to fight stigma and discrimination in the workplace on a world stage.

This year's theme ‘Mental Health in the Workplace'. Mental health issues have been shown to the cause of employee absenteeism, lower rate of productivity and an increase in costs. This year’s packet will contribute to taking mental health out of the shadows in the work place so that people and companies have the tools to help employees and increase the overall mental health of all their employees.

Stigma and discrimination must be addressed. The process will involve communicating and cooperating in genuine, meaningful co-design processes together.
Lived experience people need to be involved right from the start at all levels appropriately and equitably.

On behalf of all people with a lived experience of mental health issues around the world, I will be calling on all countries to stand up and be counted and help fight for the realisation of the human rights for people who live with mental health issues. 
I will be asking that everyone shows they care by supporting genuine and meaningful co-design processes to address discrimination -  let’s say NO to discrimination in the workplace.

My participation at the World Congress and ongoing presentations, will build upon the great work already done and further increase awareness for the urgent need to address stigma and discrimination in workplaces immediately.

Please support me to go to the conference and continue to advocate for the rights of people with a lived experience of mental health.

Thank you for taking the time to read my cause and thank-you in advance for any donations towards my participation.


Michael Burge OAM
Consumer Advocate / Wellness Warrior

My Background

I am very passionate about social justice and human rights.
I have extensive experience in peer, consumer, carer, family and support person’s engagement.

I have been advocating for the human rights of mental health consumers and carers for approx. 22 years (seven years with Veterans’ Affairs and 15 years’ community mental health). My passion for advocacy started when I began volunteering way back in the 1990’s. I started advocating for serving and ex serving military people who had developed a mental health condition because of their service to their country.

I continually strive to provide timely accurate advice and support with regards to rights and entitlements for people who have a lived experience of mental health. I have represented consumers and carers on local, state, national and international forums.  I have facilitated numerous mental health related presentations and workshops and written many articles.

Former Chair of National Mental Health Consumer Carer Forum (NMHCCF) and current member 2006-2017. NMHCCF is the largest combined national advocacy voice for consumers and carers in Australia. Former Chair of the Australian Mental Health Consumer Network 2006-2007.

Founder and Coordinator of the award winning annual Mental Health Concert “Breaking Free” since 2002. “Breaking Free” is an evening of entertainment, inspiration and collaboration for consumers, carers, families and the community.  The theme is a celebration of who we are and has provided a forum for many inspirational speakers, and entertainers.  The concert has also provided a platform for reducing stigma and discrimination.

Co-design Project 2016 - heavily involved in the development of a national document in 2016 “Shared perspectives on Authentic Co-Design”, ensuring consumers and carers are leading mental health reform in system, design, development and delivery.

Former member of national committee that overseen the development of the National Recovery Framework. On the 23 August 2013, I co-launched the National Recovery framework in Melbourne.

Taught over 1800 people how to engage effectively and utilise recovery focused Language. Former Toowoomba Clubhouse, President 2010 – 2011. 

Accredited Master Mental Health First Aid Instructor and have conducted more than 96 courses throughout rural and remote Australia 2004-2016. I have been teaching the MHFA course in order to help reduce stigma and discrimination and to enable people to better access help and information.
Chair of the National Industries Reference Group 2013-2015 responsible for the development of the Training and Learning Resources for Certificate IV Mental Health Peer Work. This qualification is one of the most exciting and ground breaking advancements for the Australian Peer Workforce in decades. One of 30 champions of Peer Work selected in Australia in 2016.

Graduate of National Mental Health Commissions Future Leaders in Mental Health Program 2014-2015.  The aim was to support the further development of consumer and carer mental health leaders and advocates, and find and develop the next generation of leaders.

Principal Project Officer for Consumer, Carer and Family Participation Framework for Queensland Mental Health March 2007. 

National Mental Health Workforce Advisory Committee (MHWAC). Member 2006-2012.  Provided advice on the implementation of numerous national mental health workforce programs and related issues.

Former member of the Federal Government’s National Advisory Council on Mental Health Reform. I was appointed by The Hon Nicola Roxon MP Minister for Health and Aging at Parliament House in July 2008 for 3 years. Our primary role was the provision of expert advice and advocacy to help drive mental health reform.

Queensland Mental Health Week Achievement Award October 2010. The Awards recognise the achievements of individuals and organisations who have worked to improve the community’s understanding and awareness of mental illness, to enhance the provision of services and to generally better the mental health of Queenslanders.

Active participant of International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership (IIMHL) 2007-present. Visited over 50 organisations during three overseas placements – UK, United States and Canada.
A major highlight of my career was providing a keynote address on Consumer and Participation in mental health systems change at the International Mental Health Leadership (IIMHL) Conference in Ottawa, Canada 2007 and Clubhouse training at Fountain House New York in December 2010.

National Mental Health Presentations 2003-2016; e.g. Human Rights, Social Inclusion, Consumer’s Perspectives, Stigma and Discrimination, Lived Experience of Mental Health Reform, Consumer Leadership, Recovery, What is needed for Effective Peer Support, Veterans Peer Support, Strategies for Enhanced Consumer and Carer Participation, Consumer and Carer Advisory Groups, Medication side-effects, Experiences of Delivering Mental Health First Aid throughout rural and remote Australia, Consumer Driven and Operated Services, Principles and Philosophies of the Australian Mental Health Consumer Movement.

I was awarded the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) in June 2014
for my work as a Mental Health Advocate 1995 – 2014, giving recognition to my extensive demonstrated understanding and ability to advocate for the rights of people with mental health issues.

I am very passionate about my advocacy work and committed to improving the quality of life for both consumers and carers. I continually strive to bring a unique, strong and real time viewpoint, not watered down, not sanitised, and not skewed by the numerous layers of bureaucracy. 

Recommended viewing

YouTube - Mental health patients feel stigmatised on Dec 22, 2011
It is well known that public stigma is a huge hurdle for those with a mental illness, but are Australia's doctors and medical professionals just as guilty of discrimination?

Recommended reading
Consumer and Carer Experiences of Stigma from Mental Health and Other Health Professionals

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Michael Burge
Charlton QLD

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