- Welcome to Voices Vic
- About Us
- What We Do
- Training and workshops
- Peer Support - Voice Exchange
- Our Stories - Voices Unplugged
- Some Facts
- Contact Us
- The Melbourne Hearing Voices Declaration
Welcome to Voices Vic
Welcome to Voices Vic – a proud initiative of Prahran Mission – and a member of the Hearing Voices Network Australia.
Voices Vic is a statewide specialist program led by people with a lived experience, which seeks to improve the lives of people who hear voices.
Our team is testament to the empowerment that can be gained by learning how to work and live with hearing voices, with each member having traversed their own healing journey.
What is ‘hearing voices?
It is hard to think of an experience that is more misunderstood or stigmatised than hearing voices.
Voice hearers hear things that others can’t. In medicine these experiences might be referred to as auditory hallucinations, and people may end up being diagnosed with schizophrenia or some other mental illness. And while some people do find hearing voices confusing or frightening and seek help to cope with them, many more people hear voices and find them helpful, sacred or just a normal part of life. Most voice hearers live well with their voices.
What is the Hearing Voices Approach?
The Hearing Voices Approach is not about trying to get rid of your voices. It’s about changing the relationship you have with them. Dealing with fear, anger and shame. Getting support where you need it. Learning to get control.
Our approach is based on Prof Marius Romme and Sandra Escher’s research which found that many people hear voices without distress or ever needing to seek mental health services. Voice hearers who cope have different skills, beliefs and supports, compared to those in distress.
These different factors lie behind much of the hearing voices approach and are in fact consistent with a number of therapeutic approaches for other experiences that people find distressing.
Interested in joining Voices Vic?
Contact us to join the Hearing Voices Network or to talk about starting a Hearing Voices Group in your area.
Interested in volunteering for Voices Vic?
There are opportunities for voice hearers to volunteer with us on a 100 hour volunteer placement. You will build skills and confidence for future work, while doing things such as office administration, group facilitation, or delivering talks and training. We offer mentoring, training and a chance to make a difference.
Call the Program Manager for more information.
Telephone 9692 9500
Voices Vic was established by Prahran Mission in 2009, after successfully running Hearing Voices groups since 2005.
Voices Vic is a network of professionals, carers and voice hearers that work together to reduce the distress which can be associated with hearing voices.
We work in partnership with other Hearing Voices Networks – both in Australia and overseas.
Prahran Mission is proud to be supporting other organisations across Victoria, creating new opportunities for collaboration and recovery.
Our vision is for the community at large to listen to the experience of voice hearers without fear or judgement, and with acceptance.
We believe recovery is not necessarily the absence of voices, but the ability to have a meaningful life.
We believe recovery is possible for everyone.
What We Do
We support and encourage voice hearers to build relationships with their voices, acknowledging them as part of their lives.
We bring voice hearers together to connect and work on their recovery, using Hearing Voices Groups, and Voice Exchange Peer Support.
Groups are safe places where voice hearers can share their experiences, learn new ways to understand, cope and live, and create a powerful sense of hope and possibility.
With Voice Exchange Peer Support, you work on your voices with a voice hearer who has studied peer work and the hearing voices approach. This is a unique opportunity to explore and better understand voice hearing.
We build skills and understanding to support recovery for voice hearers using learning programs, volunteer opportunities and our Voices Unplugged initiative.
We offer public training courses, customised in-house training, talks, mentoring and resources.
Voices Vic is here to offer support, advice and information, as well as create opportunities for sharing ideas across the network, including:
- site visits and in-person support
- newsletters, reference books and DVDs
- facilitator training, workshops and forums
- mentoring and leadership development for voice hearer facilitators.
Voices Vic can visit your organisation to talk about our approach, how groups work, and how to get one started.
Voices Vic will seek to address the following:
- raise awareness and increase skills in the Hearing Voices Approach
- raise awareness of the unacceptable levels of distress, health and socioeconomic disadvantage faced by many voice hearers – and lobby for change
- address the need for ongoing funding of Hearing Voices work across Victoria.
Voices Vic will actively engage across all community, government and mental health arenas.
Hearing voices can be distressing, stigmatising, and difficult to talk about.
Groups provide a welcoming space for voice hearers to share what it’s like to hear voices, learn new coping strategies, and explore ways to make sense of voices and to change the relationship with voices.
Voice hearers attending groups report feeling less alone, are better able to live with their voices, and often say that there is no other space like this available.
How are groups run?
We have found that the most successful hearing voices groups are support focused rather than psycho-education focused. In other words, participants have the chance to share their experience of hearing voices and ideas about living with the voices.
Successful groups help people to feel less alone with their experience, provide the chance to offer mutual support and have a culture of accepting and welcoming difference.
Who facilitates them?
Groups can be facilitated by workers, voice hearers or a combination of both.
Groups in your area
Hearing Voices groups operating in Victoria are listed here.
|Where & When||Address||Contact|
|Ballarat (Wendouree) Thursday (fortnightly), 1.00pm–3.00pm||Wendouree Community House
14 Violet Grove
T: 9692 9528
|Carlton Library (meet in the foyer) 667 Rathdowne Street
Note: Run by CoHealth
T: 9377 7132
M: 0438 733 165
Michelle De Sant’anna
T: 9377 7154
|The Living Room Primary Health Service 7 – 9 Hosier Lane, Melbourne||Carolina or Tom
T: 9945 2100
|Merri Community Health
21 Victoria Street
T: 9355 9900
344-356 Cressy Street
T: 03 5881 7086
3 The Avenue
T: 8720 2500
|Footscray Public Library
56 Paisley Street
T: 9377 7132 M: 0438 733 165 Lesley Parkin
M: 0429 501 063
Friday, 2.30pm – 4.00pm
|Neami Building No 1
Note: Run by Peninsula Health
|Zoe Francis or Peter Gatti
T: 03 9784 6999
35 Myers Street
Note: Independent Group
T: 03 5223 5400
M: 0488 704 674
1st & 3rd Friday per month, 1.00pm-3.00pm
|Hawthorn Community House
32 Henry Street
(Near Glenferrie Railway Station, behind Swinburne Uni)
T: 9819 2629
|Ivanhoe||** To be confirmed **|
|Mornington Community Contact
8-11 Albert Street
M: 0407 744 236
Corner Chapel & Greville Streets (entrance in Greville Street)
Note: Run by Prahran Mission
T: 9692 9528
|Preston Neighborhood House
218 High Street
Note: Run by Sage Health
M: 0403 015 562
|Richmond||** To be confirmed **|
|St Kilda Parish Uniting Church
163 Chapel Street
(Entry via Chapel St entrance)
Note: Run by Prahran Mission
T: 9692 9500
M: 0417 071 185
|Kelly Park Community Centre
The Billards Room
1 Synnot Street
T: 8744 2100
Please Contact us if you:
- would like to join a group
- are interested in starting a new group
- know of a group that should be listed here.
For information regarding groups in other states or overseas, go to our Resources page.
Recovery books, DVDs and CDs
For a full list of the items available, and to order your own copy, either:
Pocket Guide Order Form - a self-help guide for voice hearers, by voice hearers
Fact Sheet 1 – Sharing Voices
Fact Sheet 2 – Profiling Voices
Fact Sheet 3 – Dialoguing with Voices
Fact Sheet 4 – Changing the Power Balance
Fact Sheet 5 – Information for Friends, Family & Carers
Hearing Voices Network Australia – an excellent resource for further information, within the Australian context.
Intervoice – The International Hearing Voices Network, another excellent resource
Strategies for Coping with Voices – provided by HVNA, this may useful for individuals, and as a tool to review in group settings. A3 size
Working to Recovery UK, online shop – has a wide variety of books, CDs, and DVDs concerning recovery
The Maastricht Interview - is a structured questionnaire for voice hearers based on the ‘Maastricht’ approach, which emphasises accepting and making sense of voices. It can be used to help voice hearers profile and better understand their experience. Ideal for use in 1 to 1 work, it is usually completed over several sessions (between 3 to 10). For more informationStarting a Hearing Voices Group? Get an information pack suitable for clinicians and managers who wish to understand the evidence base for the Hearing Voices Approach, read a review of risks, and understand the financial requirements in starting a group. For more information
We acknowledge Rebecca Ponchard and Dr Neil Thomas for their assistance in developing this pack.
Training and workshops
At Voices Vic we know that hearing voices is often distressing, but we also know that everyone can recover.
Voices Vic offers training and talks to mental health professionals, carers and voices hearers interested in the Hearing Voices Approach. Our courses are focussed on this approach, peer support, group facilitation and other learning areas related to hearing voices and recovery.
We welcome the inclusion of mental health professionals, consumers, voice hearers, carers and family members at our training courses. We find that differing experiences results in a much richer learning experience for everyone present. It also allows us to apply our learning during the course, and frequently results in building stronger relationships between participants.
We offer public training courses, as well as customised training to meet the needs of your organisation.
What training courses are available?
What is the best course for you?
Read our Training Pathways to help find the best course for your needs.
Our courses aim to help voice hearers develop skills to live with their voices. We bring people with different experiences together, and we find this enriches the learning for everyone.
Our courses are:
- dynamic and interactive
- consumer-led but inclusive
- based on the latest ideas around hearing voices and recovery
- provided in a safe, supportive environment
- based on quality adult learning principles
- open to workers (community and clinical), consumers, and carers and family – all learning together.
About our trainers
Voices Vic training is delivered by our own training team, or by leading experts in their field.
Our training team:
- receive learning and development, supervision and support from Voices Vic
- have demonstrated knowledge and skills in the Hearing Voices Approach
- have skills in adult learning and interactive training delivery
- understand how to provide training in a safe and respectful learning environment.
Most of our trainers have a lived experience with hearing voices and recovery.
Customised in-house training
Voices Vic can design a training package to suit your organisation’s needs, which is a very cost effective way to train large numbers of staff within one organisation. We can structure the training to fit around your schedule – either at your premises or an external site. We also provide workbooks and resources.
- Overview of the Hearing Voices Approach
- Understanding the hearing voices experience
- Using the Hearing Voices Approach in individual work – strategies and philosophy
- Incorporating the Hearing Voices Approach into your organisation
- Starting a hearing voices group.
Are all Hearing Voices training courses run by Voices Vic?
No, there are other training providers – individuals and organisations – who provide training in hearing voices. These trainers are not necessarily affiliated with Voices Vic unless we specifically advertise this in our written materials.Please also note that ‘Voices Inc’ is a different and separate organisation to Voices Vic.
Peer Support - Voice Exchange
What is Voice Exchange?
Voice Exchange is a peer support program for people who hear voices. We offer sessions of individual peer support with a trained peer worker who also has lived experience of hearing voices. This unique approach aims to provide a safe, respectful and validating environment in which you can:
- explore ways to better identify and understand your voices
- explore the meaning of what they say
- explore reasons why you might be hearing them
- explore new ways to cope with hearing voices
- explore how to shift the power balance and change your relationship with the voices.
Who are the peer workers?
The Voices Vic peer workers are Louisa Dent Pearce and Janet Karagounis.
Both Louisa and Janet have:
- lived experience of hearing distressing voices and transforming their voices
- been consumers in the mental health system
- extensive training in Intentional Peer Support and the Hearing Voices Approach
- extensive experience supporting peers in their recovery journeys
- regular supervision and support to help them develop their peer worker skills
- a passionate belief in recovery.
Who is eligible?
The Voice Exchange program is a service offered by Prahran Mission. It is open to any Prahran Mission client who identifies as being a voice hearer, and who is ready to work on their voices.
If you are interested in becoming a client of Prahran Mission, you need to contact the Central Intake and Assessment Service. If you nominate Prahran Mission as your preferred service provider, you will then be referred to us.
The peer workers at Voice Exchange can help you with the referral process if need be.
For more information, go to Our Services.
Are there any costs?
The Voice Exchange program is free for Prahran Mission clients.
Where are the sessions held?
The peer work sessions take place at:
211 Chapel Street
Prahran VIC 3181
For more information, contact Louisa Dent Pearce on 9692 9500.
Email: Contact us via the online form
Working with another voice hearer one-on-one meant that the sessions, I felt, were more productive than in a group. Having somebody pointing out the links, similarities and possible sources of my voices that would not have occurred to me on my own; hence the value of this process.
It was also beneficial to share my journey with a person who was able to show links with my voices in diagrammatic and other visual methods, which presented my voices in quite a different way and gave me a new perspective to look (and hear!) from.
Towards the end of the main ‘body’ of the Voice Exchange work we were able to get to the core of where the voices stemmed from. I am gradually taking this understanding into my everyday relationship with my voices and also, in time, will examine these revelations in psychotherapeutic sessions.
—Anonymous participant of Voice Exchange, 2013
I would be delighted to recommend [Voice Exchange] to anyone that has had the hearing voices experience or any other form of mental illness; [they] will lead you on a safe and sure path to mental health and how to realise your full potential and be a useful part of the community of individuals.
—Anonymous participant of Voice Exchange, 2013.
Our Stories - Voices Unplugged
As voice hearers we face daily stigma and misunderstanding. People assume we are crazy or even dangerous without getting to know us. In reality we are just people who experience the world in different ways. We would like respect, understanding and compassion.
Voices Unplugged is all about hearing what it’s really like to hear voices.
Why Voices Unplugged?
We know that stigma is a hard thing to change. Many voice hearers stigmatise themselves by believing all the awful things that people say about us. And many people in the general community believe the myths just because they don’t know any better.
Voices Vic thinks that sharing real and personal stories is a way to change this stigma.
Personal stories about hearing voices can be told in a variety of ways: mini-films, audio recordings, poetry, art and prose.
Want to share your experience of hearing voices with the world?
Contact us to talk about sharing your story on our site. You can choose to be anonymous or to disclose your name – it’s up to you. Our team is happy to talk to you about what it might mean to publicly disclose your personal experiences.
To hear other voice hearers’ stories, visit our YouTube channel.
It’s a common myth that voice hearers are dangerous. Often that’s how they are portrayed in the media, and this can affect how voice hearers are treated, and why they are ashamed to talk about their experiences.
So, what are the facts?
Approximately 4 percent of the population hear voices, yet in most countries only about 0.5 percent are diagnosed with schizophrenia.
The majority of violent crimes are committed by people who do not have mental health problems.
For example, in the UK there are approximately seven million people who experience mental illness at any one time. There are approximately 50-70 homicides committed there each year. Only about 10 percent of these are committed by people experiencing mental health problems. This equates to 0.0001 percent of homicides being committed by people with a mental health issue.
A US study found that people experiencing psychosis are 14 times more likely to be the victims of violent crime than to be the perpetrator.
The Bible is full of voice hearers. Hearing the voice of god is usually an integral part of religious and spiritual texts and beliefs.
Many other well known figures have also heard voices including philosophers, thinkers, authors, artists, musicians, leaders and rulers, scientists, discoverers, explorers, and spiritual and religious figures.
|Philosophers & thinkers:||Authors, artists & musicians:||Spiritual & religious figures:||Leaders & rulers:|
Carl Gustav Jung
Edgar Allen Poe
Philip K Dick
Joan of Arc
St Teresa of Avila
George Fox (Quakers founder)Joseph Smith (Mormons founder)
|Alexander the Great
Sir Winston Churchill
President George Bush
Scientists, Discoverers & Explorers:
Please contact us if you have any queries, feedback or ideas.
Voices Vic is staffed Monday to Thursday only, 9.00am to 5.00pm.
|Level 3 (Reception)
211 Chapel Street
Prahran VIC 3181
|9692 9500||Training enquiries:
|Like us, or follow us!|
The Melbourne Hearing Voices Declaration
The Melbourne Hearing Voices Declaration has been developed by people with lived experience of hearing voices from Australia, UK and Europe, with the aim of building support for the hearing voices approach within the mental health system.
The Declaration was launched at the World Hearing Voices Congress on Thursday 21 November 2013. The Congress was organised and led by consumers, and hosted over 700 delegates from all around the world. Delegates included consumers, carers, health professionals, policy makers and researchers.
The Declaration has been signed by organisations who have embraced the opportunity to publicly demonstrate their support for the consumer leadership movement, and the importance of engaging in a productive way with the experience of hearing voices.
Outlined below are the specific commitments, these organisations have agreed to:
- Ensuring it feels safe for people to talk about voices and other unusual experiences.
- Working to enable increased hope, control and opportunity for people who hear voices and their families.
- Listening to the experience of voice hearers.
- Working with, rather than against, voices.
- Asking about and supporting people to address past trauma.
- Tackling myths and stigma about hearing voices.
- Supporting people to build skills that empower them to change their relationship with voices.
- As appropriate, building this declaration into our planning processes.
The Declaration has now been signed by over 60 organisations.
What organisations have signed the Declaration?
To view a list of all the organisations, worldwide, who have agreed to the above commitments, click here.
How can my organisation sign the Declaration?
To register your organisation’s interest in supporting this movement, just contact us.
Where can I see the Declaration?
- You can view and download a copy of the Declaration here
- You can also view a series of consumers reading out parts of the Declaration on our YouTube channel here