Biography Burrow

Phoebe Kingston, Founder & Principal Speaker


Thru the Rabbit Hole

Phoebe Kingston's dream was to become a doctor. After two years of studying and receiving four awards, including the National Australian Adult Learner's Award and the Valedictorian Award at Tuart College, Perth, Western Australia, she applied for entrance to the medical school of The University of Western Australia, with a tertiary entrance ranking in the 97th percentile.

The stress of studying brought about a change in Phoebe's wellbeing, but unaware of the warning signs, she sat her entrance exam for the university in 2007. However, instead of entering medical school, she entered a psychiatric hospital. 

​Following a diagnosis of "schizoaffective disorder," there followed several years of struggles with mental health, and she finally commenced her "recovery" in late 2011. In general, Phoebe prefers the term "Discovery" to "Recovery" and believes that her unique journey to find herself was really "re-identification" and reinvention, she postulates that "Re-identification" could actually be a fourth type of or sub-category of recovery, after clinical, social, and personal recovery frameworks.


Phoebe began her career in mental health as a volunteer speaker for "Helping Minds" on their high school education program, where she developed a keen interest in raising awareness of mental health issues in the younger generation.

She found these high school audiences displayed an eagerness to learn more about mental health from her personal story and their questions revealed a shortcoming in awareness in the youth mental health sector.


From this, she discovered a passion to speak out on a subject that has for many centuries been taboo, and so a public speaking career was born. Since 2013, she has become a sought-after professional speaker in Western Australia and overseas.

'Thru the Rabbit Hole' public engagements include the National Australian Mental Health Services Conference 2014, Western Australian State Mental Health Conference 2017, plenary speaker at the 2018 World Summit of Positive Psychology, Mindfulness and Psychotherapy in New York and the EuroSciCon 7th International Conference on Psychiatry, Psychology and Mental Health, Prague, Czech Republic. In addition, she is a graduated member of the Inspiring Speakers Bureau, a member of Speaker Match Academy and was a foundation member of the Global Institute of Training and Presenting, through all of which she regularly undertakes training for the Speakers Industry.

Passionate about being involved with and giving back to the community, Phoebe was nominated for Volunteer of the Year in 2014 and later that year she was a finalist for the Act, Belong, Commit Award. Also, in 2014, she trained as a mental health consumer representative and adviser with Consumers of Mental Health Western Australia (CoMHWA) which led her to a seat on the North Metropolitan Health Service Mental Health Joondalup Consumer Advisory Group (CAG).

Later in 2014, the Western Australian Government created eight new peer support positions for its six community mental health clinics, the first such positions in the North Metropolitan Mental Health Service. Phoebe was appointed to one of these pioneering positions, which were a significant step in the consumer movement in Western Australia. Embedding the Peer Support Service was a large undertaking for Phoebe and her peers. However, the championing of lived experience in the workforce has been a success, despite the challenges encountered. Through this position, she concurrently completed a leadership certificate through the Department of Health, Western Australia. 


In 2015 Phoebe became a member of the Management Committee of Recovery Rocks Community Inc., (RRCI), a peer-run and peer-led support community in the Perth area of Western Australia, which is featured in a UK journal article for its unique structure and operations. A. Waegeli, (2014). The Recovery Rocks Community Story: Mental Health and Social Inclusion. Vol. 18 No. 2 2014, pp. 61-67. Through her learning  on board and governance roles and grass roots organisations, and her passion for peer support, she remains a proud member of this community.

Following her peer support appointment, Phoebe also went on to become involved in a number of ground-breaking and innovative projects in Western Australia in various capacities including one of the North Metropolitan Health Service Mental Health New Mental Health Act, Local Implementation Group; The Western Australian Police and Mental Health Co-Response Forum; CoMWHA Pilot Consumer Representation Training; Western Australia Association of Mental Health (WAAMH) Increasing Membership Participation And Co-Design/Production Training (IMPACT) Project; and qualifying from Australia's first tertiary Lived Experience Educator (LEE) Unit through Curtin University's School of Occupational Therapy, Social Work and Speech Pathology. Phoebe regularly lectures  for Curtin, Edith Cowan and Murdoch Universities and signed a sessional academic contract with Curtin University in 2018.

Phoebe is also a speaker for WAAMH, a featured speaker for CoMWHA on the Our Voice 4 Change Initiative and a Peer Ambassador for SANE Australia with a special interest area of advocating for alternative frameworks of understanding mental and emotional distress. In 2018 she was appointed to the Western Australian Recovery College Model Expert Panel where she worked on overseeing the development of the Western Australian Recovery College Model of Service for the Federal Minister for Health, Mental Health and Western Australia Deputy Premier Hon. Roger Cook via the Mental Health Commission of Western Australia.


In mid-2018 Phoebe was invited to speak at the EuroSciCon International Conference on Psychiatry, Psychology and Mental Health in the Czech Republic and subsequently became a member of their organising committee. Following this, Phoebe was appointed to Deputy Chair of a Department of Health Western Australia metropolitan health service community advisory council peak body ('CAC'). The 'CAC is a council that provides a voice to service-users, carers and the community and is primarily responsible for the provision of advice to the health services executive director in relation to service-user issues and health care. As part of her role with the 'CAC' Phoebe is also the Project Lead for a new and innovative service-user, family, carer, and community engagement project (currently in its planning phase) and a sub-committees Chair. Phoebe is particularly excited to lead the community voice engagement project, which according to some sources, will be the first of its kind in statutory services in Australia. Later in 2018, Phoebe co-designed the 2018 Introduction to the LEE Unit Tutorial Series at Curtin University for the School Of Occupational Therapy Social Work and Speech Pathology and she also co-tutored for the tutorial series.


In February 2019, Phoebe gave the Lived Experience Keynote at the Western Australian Book Launch of Peer Work in Australia and was invited to lecture at Notre Dame University and North Metropolitan TAFE. In mid-2019 Phoebe accepted a role as a Board Director for CoMHWA where she was excited to embark on another learning journey. Shortly after this, she contributed as an expert member for the WA Mental Health Commission Recovery College Tender Evaluation Expert Panel, which she found to be an educative experience regarding the nuances of tender evaluations and associated processes. Following this role Phoebe was invited to be an expert panellist for a research project that she had contributed to during it's early phases via her role as a national Peer Ambassador for Sane Australia. The research was of particular interest to Phoebe because it concerned the news media portrayal of stories relating to 'psychiatric diagnoses,' mental wellbeing issues in general and issues of how our news media, in its delivery of mental health related stories, may actively and adversely contribute to societal stigma. The aim of the project is to create national media reporting guidelines for stories relating to lived experience. Phoebe will be contributing to the workshops which will help formulate the national media reporting guidelines.


To further fuel her burning passion for stigma reduction, immediately after the opportunity of further involvement in the media reporting research, Phoebe was offered an opportunity to be Australia's National Stigma Report Card Western Australia State Champion. The National Stigma Report Card is a 5 year research project and is a partnership between the Anne Deveson Research Centre and the Paul Ramsay Foundation. The research project is both unprecedented and ambitious in several ways and it will include the largest 'consumer' survey of its kind conducted in Australia to date. Phoebe is enormously excited to be the WA NSRC State Champion and have opportunity to contribute at several levels to research that will be used to advocate for significant service reform at a national and federal level. Phoebe will be promoting and coordinating some of the projects activities and initiatives in WA and although some project phases are still unclear simply due to its scale and ambition, Phoebe is enormously excited to have a national role in supporting the project into 2020 and in any way she can.


In late 2019 Phoebe had the new and exciting experience of co-presenting in a WA media release regarding the announcement of the WA Recovery College Award of Tender. Representing the Recovery College Expert Panel's lived expertise, she addressed the media to express her perspectives and hopes for the WA Recovery College system. Phoebe presented with the Hon. Roger Cook, Deputy Premiere and Minister for Health and Mental Health and coming from a theatrical background, Phoebe is used to cameras but still found the media release a little nerve wrecking! Concerning other media aspirations, Phoebe is also currently writing for international medical journals and is authoring a book called "Re-identification: The Discovery Framework." 

In April 2020, Phoebe took leave from her front line role in peer support for the WA Department of Health to focus on her aspirations of launching the training focused aspect of Thru the Rabbit Hole (TtRH). She worked hard to create (or rather start using) the TtRH social media platforms finding herself to be a rookie at this and learning the time consuming nature of such simple but important business tasks required to create online visibility. In late April Phoebe was the first Lived Experience Educator to be given the opportunity to co-produce and deliver an entire tertiary Unit for Curtin University. Phoebe was invited to co-design, lecture, co-assess, and co-evaluate a unit for Curtin's new Masters Degree in Social Work. Phoebe worked on this project for 6 months, learning a great deal and has been invited to write a medical journal paper with the colleague and professor with which she worked. The paper will discuss the experience of co-production at this education institutional level, a first in WA according to knowledge so far.  


A month later in May, Phoebe hosted her first virtual event, a community consultation on health literacy and medication usage on behalf of Consumers Health Forum Australia and NPS MedicineWise. In the same month, Thru the Rabbit Hole ran it's first social media based Mental Health Awareness campaign for Schizophrenia Awareness week and then commenced it's phase one soft launch business promotions in August to September. In October, TtRH ran it's second social media based mental health campaign for the 2020 Mental Health Week. The TtRH "Dancing With Diagnosis" Mental Health Awareness campaign was an original conceptual video series. It was a creative, inclusive campaign with a critical and construct based social messaging context. You can view/read about it here. 


At the end of October, Phoebe was certified as a Personal Medicine Coach under Patricia Deegan PhD and Associates Faculty in the USA. It had been some time since Phoebe undertook any studies and so becoming Phoebe Kingston CPMC, under a consumer movement giant like Dr. Deegan, was a proud achievement for her particularly because Dr. Deegan is an idol for Phoebe and her work. She joined a CPMC International Community of Practice (there are approximately 130 CPMC's in the world so far...) and Phoebe qualified after her final exams week with a score of 97%. 


With unbridled passion and commitment for all her work in the mental health sector, it is Phoebe's dream to contribute as much as she can to community awareness, education and social advancement regarding lived experience and mental wellbeing, to speak out as a person of personal  experience of distress, to combat and reduce stigma, prejudice, social injustice, and discrimination against those who struggle with their mental and emotional wellbeing. Phoebe wishes to continue being a change agent for improving mental health services for all, systemic reform, and contributing to the consumer movement through the provision of education, advocacy, and activism.

Training and Certifications

  • 2013 - Roadshow to Empowerment Delivering the workshop 'Mental Stillness Program

  • 2014 - Introduction to Consumer Representative Training (Consumers of Mental Health WA)

  • 2014 - Advanced Consumer Representative Training (Consumers of Mental Health WA)

  • 2015 - Keeping Sane Workshop (Brain Ambulance)

  • 2015 - Introductory Aboriginal Cultural Learning Program (Dept. of Health)

  • 2015 - Response to Disclosure of Sexual Assault (Sexual Assault Resource Centre)

  • 2015 - Learning Leaders Course (Lift Performance Solutions)

  • 2015 - Aboriginal Cultural e-Learning Program (Dept. of Health)

  • 2015 - Disability Access and Inclusion (Dept. of Health)

  • 2016 - Predict, Assess and Respond to Aggressive/Challenging Behaviour  (Cert. 30952 MTU Training Concepts Pty Ltd)

  • 2016 - Consumer Representative Introductory Skills (Health Consumers Council, WA)

  • 2016 - Cert. 3 Unit of Competency: Recognize and Respond Appropriately to Domestic and Family Violence (Cert. 05272 Lifeline                   Australia)

  • 2016 - Protecting the Workforce (Elucidate Innovative Approaches to Mental Health)

  • 2016 - Delivery of 'Peer Support Education Session' to the WA Mental Health Graduate Registered  Nurse Program (Dept. of Health)

  • 2016 - Tertiary Lived Experience Educator Unit (Curtin University)

  • 2016 - Mental Health Communication (WA Association Mental Health)

  • 2016 - Recovery Oriented Language (WA Association Mental Health)

  • 2016 - Mental Health First Aid (Mental Health First Aid, Australia)

  • 2016 - Standard Mental Health First Aider Accreditation (Mental Health First Aid, Australia)

  • 2016 - Consumer and Carer Mental Health Advocacy (WA Association Mental Health)

  • 2017 - Co-Design/Co-Production (WA Association Mental Health)

  • 2017 - Open Dialogue (Working to Recovery, Australia)

  • 2017 - Co-design and Co-production (WA Association Mental Health)

  • 2017 - Building Recovery Relationships (WA Association Mental Health)

  • 2017 - Understanding Eating Disorders for Peer Support Workers (WA Eating Disorders Outreach and Consultation Service)

  • 2018 - Certificate 4 Mental Health Peer Work (North Metropolitan TAFE, WA)

  • 2018 - Introduction to Alcohol and Other Drugs (2nd Ed.) (Dept. of Health)

  • 2018 - Engagement Essentials (IAP2 Australia)

  • 2018 - Engagement Methods (IAP2 Australia)

  • 2018 - Engagement Design (IAP2 Australia)

  • 2019 - Understanding and Supporting Gender Diversity in Young People (Youth Link, WA)

  • 2019 - Disability Access and Inclusion (WA Department of Health)

  • 2019 - WA Health System Language Services Policy (WA Department of Health)

  • 2019 - Effective Board and Governance (NFP Success)

  • 2020 - Supporting Cultural Diversity in Health Care (Health Consumers Council WA)

  • 2020 - Certified Personal Medicine Coach (Patricia Deegan PhD and Associates Faculty USA)

You aren't the things that haunt you;

you aren't the pain you feel.

I'm not faking being
sick, I'm actually faking being well.

To have someone understand your mind
is a different type of intimacy.
The definition of what we call 'mental illness' is just someone who isn't thinking the same way as me.
Mary Kingston