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Co-designed and Participatory Health Research Symposium

Co-designed and Participatory Health Research Symposium

15 September 2023 | Sunnybrae Estate, Regency Park

Sonder hosted its second annual research symposium on 15 September 2023 at Sunnybrae Estate. The event facilitates a platform for forward-thinking researchers and healthcare professionals to collaborate and exchange groundbreaking insights that are redefining the landscape of healthcare delivery.

With this year’s theme, ‘Better Together: Co-designed and participatory health research,’ the symposium aimed to foster collaboration, challenge long-standing research norms and explore the power of co-design and participatory research methods in healthcare.

Dr Helen Oni, Sonder’s Research and Evaluation Manager, hailed the symposium as a catalyst for transcending traditional boundaries in healthcare research, emphasising the importance of breaking down barriers to collaboration. She noted,

The event compelled attendees to go beyond the presentation of research and evaluation findings, cultivating a space to challenge the status quo and removed barriers to collaboration.

Six speakers stand in a row facing the camera.
(Left to right) Helen Oni, Samantha Lai, Kat Elsby, Oliver Schubert, Taylor Willmott and Sarah Fraser

“Participation is a basic and fundamental human right.”

The symposium commenced with a powerful keynote address from Dr Taylor Willmott, Lecturer in Marketing at the University of Adelaide, who asserted that “Participation is a basic and fundamental human right.”

Dr Willmott shone a spotlight on meaningful co-design and evaluation processes, stressing the need to move beyond a tokenistic approach. Her presentation resonated deeply with the audience, leaving them with a deeper understanding of the imperative need to move beyond tokenistic engagement and pursue meaningful participatory research methods.

Opportunity to see co-design and participatory research in action

Dr Cally Jennings, Project Manager of Partnerships at the Commission on Excellence & Innovation in Health, captivated the audience with her research findings advocating for a co-design approach to community-based mental health services.

Conducted at Sonder, the research highlighted a strong demand for lifestyle programs such as nutrition and exercise workshops, while adults await mental health services. To inform the design of effective programs, she passionately recommended actively listening to the voices and experiences of consumers and service delivery staff.

Co-presenter, Dr Helen Oni lent her support to the recommendation, emphasising the critical role of consumer voices in designing lifestyle programs that can prevent mental health deterioration in adults awaiting services.

Woman holding microphone, laughing.
Samantha Lai, Sonder & University of Adelaide

The power of bringing your whole self into the workplace

Commencing her presentation with a quote from a research participant ─ “You gain nothing if you don’t get to properly know the person in front of you” ─ Samantha Lai, PhD Candidate & Academic Tutor at University of Adelaide and Sonder, introduced the concept of bringing one’s whole self to the workplace.

Lai challenged the conventional separation of work and personal identity, suggesting that integrating personal experiences can be particularly beneficial, especially in the context of youth mental health services. Lai highlighted the value of drawing on one’s own experiences, within reasonable limits, to foster empathetic connections and establish psychological safety within the counselling room.

A heartfelt thanks to all contributors

Sonder extends its heartfelt gratitude to the participants who made this year’s research symposium a resounding success and for their support in championing a vision of better care and better health through continuous improvement.

As this event continues to evolve, Sonder eagerly looks forward to forging even stronger connections and witnessing the exciting developments on the horizon.

Taylah Gregory, Research and Evaluation Officer at Sonder, expressed how the examples presented throughout the symposium have not only inspired Sonder to further its collaborations with other organisations and researchers but also paved the way for transformative efforts to improve health outcomes.

If you were unable to make it to this year’s event and are eager to be part of the experience next year, please reach out to Sonder at info@sonder.net.au


Speakers at Sonder’s Research Symposium 2023

  • Keynote Speaker: Dr Taylor Willmott, University of Adelaide
    • ‘Participatory design in health.’
  • Dr Cally Jennings, Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Health and Dr Helen Oni, Sonder
    • ‘Preferences for lifestyle support among adults awaiting community-based mental health services.’
  • Samantha Lai, Sonder & University of Adelaide
    • ‘Bringing the human to work: A lived experience approach to youth mental health service design.’
  • Heather Lamb, Australian National University
    • ‘Embedding lived experience within research: Our reflections from the co-creating safe spaces project.’
  • Dr Oliver Schubert, headspace Adelaide
    • ‘Tackling treatment resistance in psychiatry through multi-omics and early intensified treatments.’
  • Dr Katharine Brown, Telethon Kids Institute
    • ‘Keeping women’s hearts strong: A co-design to implementation pathway.’
  • James Mussared, Sonder & University of Adelaide and Debby Kadarusman, Sonder
    • ‘Evaluating Sonder’s AOD withdrawal service.’
  • Dr Maleesa Pathirana, University of Adelaide
    • ‘Impact of Telehealth on clinical outcomes in mental health programmes for young people in Northern Adelaide.’
  • Kat Elsby, Sonder
    • ‘Safe Haven: Taingiwilta Pirku Kawantila and Sonder partnership.’
  • Panel discussion facilitated by Sam Lai with speakers, Taylor Willmott, Sarah Fraser, Kat Elsby and Oliver Schubert