The consumer movement

Tshirt Equal Rights

VMIAC is part of the international consumer/survivor rights movement that’s been growing since the late 1960s, with some activism recorded in the UK and America as far back as the 1800s.

The consumer/survivor movement is similar to movements by other people who have experienced systemic oppression and marginalisation, such as LGBTIQ people, women, people with disability and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Some of the issues we share include:

  • Social, cultural and legal discrimination
  • Harmful myths about us
  • Severe socioeconomic and health disadvantage
  • Being victims of violence and abuse
  • Other’s speaking on our behalf about ‘our best interests’

The consumer/survivor movement took off in the late 1960s alongside other civil rights movements.

One of the earliest leaders in the movement was Judi Chamberlin—hear about Chamberlin, and others, in the videos below.

Early consumer/survivor movement

The early consumer/survivor movement was influenced by other civil rights activities happening at the time, plus the impact of being forcibly institutionalised, forcibly medicated, and often facing extreme kinds of abuse and harms in those institutions.

Other influences included new critical ideas about mental illness by psychiatrists Thomas Szaz and R.D. Laing, sociologist Erving Goffman and philosopher and social theorist Michel Foucault.

The Right to Say No

Learn more about our movement and history:

The consumer movement in Australia: A memoir of an old campaigner

By Merinda Epstein, 2013. Read more 

On our own: Patient –controlled alternatives to the mental health system.

By Judy Chamberlin, 1979. Chamberlin was a leader in our movement, and many people consider this book a critical part of our history. Chamberlin was a member of the Mental Patients’ Liberation Front in the USA. Published by McGraw-Hill.

Psychiatric survivors movement, Wikipedia Read more

Did you know about Mad Pride?

People can find power in reclaiming words that have been used to hurt them. This has been done in many movements, perhaps the most notable being the LGBTIQ movement reclaiming the word ‘queer’ from being an insult, to being a collective badge of pride.

The Mad Pride movement draws on the idea of reclaiming language to bolster our pride and shared identity.

Mad Pride reclaims words like ‘mad’, ‘nutter’ and ‘psycho’ to stand for something positive.

Mad Pride Comedy 2019

Mad Pride events celebrate our uniqueness with a political edge. Check out these links for more info:

From time to time, VMIAC hosts Mad Pride events, like the Mad Pride comedy event during the 2019 Melbourne Comedy Festival.

The consumer/survivor movement today

The Place We Go

The consumer survivor movement continues to grow, all around the world. These are some leading consumer/survivor organisations:

VMIAC is a proud participant in this movement, and we do our best to stand up for the issues that matter. Check out some of our campaign work to improve our rights:

Did you know about Mad Studies?

One of the most exciting developments in our movement today is the growth of Mad Studies, a new academic discipline.

Mad Studies Books

Mad Studies is a bit like other academic disciplines that have developed in response to rights movements, where people with a lived experience lead academic thinking about making sense of that experience:

Read more about Mad Studies here: Mad Studies Network