Kit Scott along with Jonathan Shapiera are our lived experience advisors.
Kit Scott is a listener. When the Western Australian Alliance to End Homelessness (WAAEH) gathers together for a Pulse Meeting Kit will seek out a new participant in the group. She is interested in your story no matter who you are.
From its early beginnings the WAAEH knew it was essential to have people with lived experience involved every step of the way.
For Kit, when positions for Lived Experience Advisor were advertised, she applied straight away.
“I wanted to use my skills for the greater good,” Kit explained.
“I researched what they were doing online, and I felt with my background I could bring healing and a perspective on how to prevent the contributory causes of homelessness.”
Kit has had to face and overcome many challenges throughout her life. Her experiences range from entrenched domestic family violence, poverty, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), homelessness, family suicide, addiction, intergenerational trauma, divorce, a benign brain tumour, mental illness and dyslexia.
“Pain travels through families until someone is ready to feel it, I’m feeling it and healing it,” Kit said.
Acknowledging, awareness raising, educating, healing and preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) is something Kit is passionate about. ACEs and toxic stress are linked to abuse, neglect and household dysfunction and there is clear evidence that links ACEs and the risk of experiencing homelessness.
The Canadian Observatory on Homelessness (Homeless Hub) published that ACEs, toxic stress and homelessness are shown to have strong correlations. The Observatory noted, “Homelessness is just one of many negative outcomes that correspond with an increase in ACEs.”
In 2018, Scotland became the first ACE aware nation much to the delight of Kit.
“Nurse practitioner Stephanie Dowden and I got together after I saw her present at a mental health professionals event addressing ACEs here in Western Australia,” said Kit.
“Together, we want to highlight the need to make WA the first ACE aware state in Australia. When I personally came across the term ACEs, I was able to see this was related to my depressed and suppressed emotional pain and childhood trauma.
“I found exercise, and I became a high-functioning exercise professional and exercise addict.
“The exercise helped me numb my body as a form of self-harm as I didn’t have the skills or tools back then to feel and heal.
I learnt from my parents, other adults and peers around me to suppress my emotions and pain.”
Since those times Kit is pleased recognition is growing.
“Through the power of Facebook, community connection locally and internationally it has been great to see people sharing resources and making connections that are helping those living with ACEs, whilst also showing evidence and practices in prevention,” explained Kit.
When it comes to formulating The Western Australian Strategy to End Homelessness, some issues may not have been considered without Kit’s input. Her concerns for the exploitation of homeless people came directly from personal experience.
“I highlighted how issues can arise when sharing a personal story in a media environment,” said Kit.
“I was part of a TV documentary and I became aware how teams of editors can cut parts of the story to fit a narrative which suits their project and not the individual’s story. It was a learning experience for me. I signed disclaimers without full comprehension of the ripple effects of sharing my face and my story on a national scale. There was no aftercare support and I feel organisations and media partners have a duty of care and moral obligation to support a person after a program has aired and to honour their story.”
This is just one example of the invaluable information that comes from a lived experience perspective.
Kit’s path of recovery, discovery and healing has helped her turn wounds into wisdom. Like everyone else in the Alliance she is committed to working towards ending homelessness in WA.
“Pain travels through families until someone is ready to feel it, I’m feeling it and healing it.”
- Kit Scott.