The Victorian Government today announced more than $4 million in funding to expand and better support mental health lived experience workforces.
New system foundations

Consumer and family carer lived experience workers play a crucial role providing support for Victorians with mental illness or psychological distress and their families, carers, and supporters.

The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System recommended a series of reforms that depend on a much larger and highly skilled lived experience workforce across all levels of the system.

New roles and development opportunities 
The new funding includes $2.37 million shared across 19 specialist mental health services in metropolitan and regional Victoria. The funding will help services support new positions and professional development for lived experience workers.
 
Regional mental health services to receive funding include Albury Wodonga Health, Mildura Base Hospital, Ballarat Health Service, Bendigo Health Care Group, Latrobe Regional Hospital, Goulburn Valley Health, South West Healthcare, and Barwon Health.

Peer worker and member of the Department of Health Mental Health and Wellbeing Workforce Technical Advisory Group, Rick Corney, speaks about his experiences in this ABC News article

Peer cadets for community mental health services 
The Victorian Government is also investing $1.02 million in a new peer cadet program to promote career pathways for lived experience workforces in community mental health services. This program will support cadets studying a Certificate IV in Peer Work to gain valuable experience and mentoring in the sector.

The program will support peer cadet positions in five community mental health services – Neami National, Mind Australia, EACH, Uniting Victoria Tasmania, and Cohealth – with each service employing up to five full-time peer cadets and one part-time peer cadet program lead.

Peak body funding for workforce support 
The overall funding includes $360,000 for peak body Mental Health Victoria to manage grants supporting lived experience workforce leadership, project management skills, and capability building in community mental health services.

More than $480,000 is also being allocated to Victorian peak bodies Tandem, and the Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council (VMIAC) over the next two years to employ a lived experience workforce lead.

The workforce leads will strengthen consumer and carer perspectives on mental health workforce policy and reform, and in partnership with the Department of Health, coordinate reform activities as a liaison with members of the lived experience workforces.

Standardised training 
Part of the overall funding includes $400,000 to support first stage development of a standardised training package for Victoria’s mental health lived experience workforces.

A partnership led by the Self-Help Addiction Resource Centre (SHARC) will develop this foundation phase of the project. This work will help ensure lived experience workers have the knowledge, skills, and confidence to succeed in their roles.

The 2021-22 Victorian State Budget invested a record $3.8 billion in mental health and wellbeing services and support.