Sandy Jeffs’ business card reads, ‘Poet – Lunatic – Insanity Consultant’. It is her humour, honesty and ability to openly discuss her schizophrenia that has made her an inspiration to so many who live with mental illness.
Sandy was born in Ballarat. Her home life was one of domestic violence- and school and sporting activities became her salvation away from the violence experienced at home. While she excelled at sport, particularly softball, it was through the support of a high school teacher that she was introduced to a love of poetry and writing.
Diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1976, Sandy spent the next 15 years in and out of institutional care, including at the infamous Larundel Psychiatric Hospital.Sandy now writes poems that celebrate her survival. Through her poetry and other writings, she has gone on to become an award-winning author of numerous publications. Her first book, Poems from the Madhouse(1993),gave her the self-confidence and resilience to succeed. In 2010, her autobiography Flying with Paper Wings was short-listed for The AgeBook of the Year. It also received a commendation in the Australian Human Rights Awards and was awarded SANE Book of the Year.
Sandy is a SANE Australia ambassador and regularly speaks to schools, universities and community groups about living with mental illness. She has continued with her love of sport, playing with the Parkville Women’s Hockey Club, who actively promote the ‘Fair Play Sport!’ anti-discrimination message.
Sandy was inducted onto the inaugural Victorian Honour Roll of Women in 2001.