Reflective resource: How ready are you to embark on an authentic co-design process?

Together, LELAN and TACSI have created a reflective resource designed for people looking to understand how ready, willing and able they are to embark on an authentic co-design process.

27 May 2022

by Carla Clarence, Principal Social Innovator: Social Health, TACSI

How it all began

In 2020, LELAN (The SA Lived Experience Leadership and Advocacy Network) and TACSI worked in partnership with people from the South Australian lived experience community to co-create a Philosophy of Care to inform the new Urgent Mental Health Care Centre (UMHCC) in Adelaide. This was commissioned by the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist SA.

Out of this work emerged a resource with a set of reflective statements, which we have continued to use to foster a mutual, honest and authentic relationship, and ultimately be accountable with each other.

Since then we have continued to reflect on our working relationship to date. In recognising our aligned values and the impact we want to create, we have been acknowledging ourselves as a partnership; one that will grow and evolve. 

We believe this reflective resource will be helpful for people looking to understand how ready, willing and able they are to embark on an authentic co-design process.

Download the reflective resource

A note on language

LELAN and TACSI draw on the following definition of lived experience for this resource and our collective work:  

In the lived experience movement we define ‘lived experience’ as experiences of mental distress, social issues or injustice “that have caused life as we knew it to change so significantly we have to reimagine and redefine ourselves, our place in the world and our future plans…. Importantly, it’s about learning how to use those experiences in a way that’s useful to other people.”
– Byrne, L & Wykes, 

We have learnt that, for some people, acknowledging historical and current experiences is an important distinction, which is why we have used the language lived and/or living experiences in our narrative.


Both organisations believe in the power of partnerships. We believe that no one person or institution can tackle the complex social problems society is experiencing and facing right now and into our future. 

In essence, we work towards being collaborative in all of our work, working with people, sharing expertise and co-creating impactful outcomes. We know all of this is done best when people with lived and/or living experiences of the issues we seek to solve are involved as partners in all stages of what it takes to create better outcomes.

We co-created an ethic for how to do this together: 

  • We wish to model our partnership through sharing the work we do together with the world

  • We want our partnership to be ‘seen’ in how we present to others when in co-creation. We are in this together

  • There is a knowing that what each brings matters, and that this can create challenge and discomfort for us to work through with compassion

  • We trust each other to share our partnership experience and the resources we co-create far and wide

  • We have a commitment to be in a helpful and continuous state of mutual learning

Suggestions on how to use the reflective resource

  • Take time to read and explore the reflective resource; either by yourself, with your team, or across your organisation and chosen networks

  • You may choose to use the reflective statements to create your own tool, or use them in authentic conversation and reflection. Either way, it’s about starting the conversation and supporting improved practice, especially around partnering with people with lived and/or living experiences. 

  • We believe this work is deeper than a solo assessment at the beginning or end of a process. Rather, there is a bigger opportunity for you to consider where you are at, what this means in your context and consider steps and actions towards authentic co-design. At its heart, co-design is about mutuality, collaboration, sharing power together and ongoing learning. 

  • There is no right or wrong way to use this reflective resource. As an offer you may find it helpful to map your reflections on a spectrum such as: 

    • Unsure yet open

    • Taking steps and asking questions

    • Progressing and trying things out

    • Succeeding and always learning

  • ‘Co’ is a process deeply rooted in values, transformation and rich diversity. It may feel overwhelming at first but by considering the conditions around you, you may be more ready, willing and able then you think. Even if you discover a number of obstacles within your own practice or across your team, this resource will hopefully support you with the words to face them and this is still a great starting point.  

  • The reflective statements are written in a way that prompts generative inquiry rather than yes or no responses. We have learnt that co-design is about embodying values and demonstrating these values in action. This in itself can take time.

Illustration of a person holding a mirror to themselves

How ready, willing and able are you to embark on an authentic co-design process?

Download the reflective resource
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