Expanding the consumer and family-carer lived experience workforces and improving workplace supports for their practice.

What the Royal Commission said

The Royal Commission called for more workers with lived experience across all levels of the mental health system.

The recommendation includes:

  • improved education and training options for lived experience workers
  • optional qualifications for lived experience workers
  • adding the Certificate IV in Mental Health Peer Work to the free TAFE course list
  • improved support and career structures for lived experience workers including coaching and supervision
  • a mandatory organisational readiness and training program for senior leaders
  • improved induction for new staff that recognises the value and expertise of lived experience workers
  • a survey of workers with lived experience to understand their experiences in the mental health system
  • ongoing accountability measures. 

What are the opportunities?

The Royal Commission recognised the important contribution of workers with lived experience. It also identified issues that contribute to the shortage of workers with lived experience across the system.

This includes:

  • a lack of organisational support and leadership
  • limited access to supervision
  • unclear roles and responsibilities
  • stigma
  • workers not feeling valued
  • the burden of being a lone worker
  • limited full-time roles
  • limited career opportunities, particularly in leadership
  • low pay.

What are we doing?

We are funding programs to expand and better support mental health lived experience workforces. 

The initiatives include:

New roles and development opportunities 

We are funding specialist mental health services in metropolitan and regional Victoria to support new positions and supervision capability development for lived experience workers.  Funding will also support skill development in supervision, leadership, and project management in specialist and community organisations. 

Peer cadets for community mental health services 

A new peer cadet program will open career pathways in community mental health services. This program aims to support cadets studying a Certificate IV in Peer Work to gain valuable experience and mentoring in the sector.

Lived experience leadership roles to inform workforce policy and programs

Funding for VMIAC and Tandem will support workforce consumer and family carer lead roles across the mental health sector. The workforce leads will strengthen consumer and carer perspectives on mental health workforce policy and reform. They will work in partnership with the Department of Health to coordinate reform activities as a liaison with members of the lived experience workforces. 

Standardised training 

A standardised training package will support Victoria’s mental health lived experience workforces.

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

Supporting organisational capability to support and grow lived experience workforces

We are developing an organisational readiness framework and training program for senior leaders to build capability of mental health services to support and grow lived experience workforces. This work is being led by the Centre for Mental Health Learning and is supported by a sector co-design action team.

Lived experience workforce data 

We are developing an ongoing accountability mechanism and system to collect, analyse and publish data about the lived experience workforces now and into the future. 

Partnerships and engagement 

We are ensuring we build on the legacy of past work and that we leverage current lived experience workforce initiatives underway. 

We have established the Lived Experience Workforce Advisory Group. This includes peak bodies, unions, agencies that deliver lived experience workforce development and frontline lived experience workers from across mental health and alcohol and other drugs sectors.

The group provides advice on design; implementation and broader engagement approaches for lived experience workforce initiatives.