National Lived Experience (Peer) Workforce Development Guidelines

A shared agenda for change

The National Development Guidelines are intended to strengthen understanding and collaboration across the mental health sector and beyond, contributing to more effective services and ultimately, better outcomes for people accessing services, their families, supporters and communities. Five priorities are identified for the mental health service system as a roadmap for leaders across diverse settings to establish policies and practices that support sustainable and effective workforce growth.

1. Develop understanding as a foundation for workforce development

The Lived Experience workforce is an essential element in the development of recovery-oriented care. Lived Experience workers need the support of employers and colleagues who are committed to recovery-oriented practice. A national priority is to increase shared understanding of the role of Lived Experience work in the continuous development of recovery-oriented mental health services.

2. Support a thriving Lived Experience workforce

Safety, training, support and recognition underpin a thriving workforce. Today’s employment experiences will influence the potential for future workforce development. A national priority is to ensure that people employed in Lived Experience roles thrive in appropriate employment conditions.

3. Planning for workforce growth

Lived Experience workers are needed everywhere, at all levels in service delivery and decision-making and across diverse communities. Growing and diversifying the Lived Experience workforce will provide services users, their families and supporters with more choice and support. A national priority is to support planning for growth in the Lived Experience workforce in terms of the breadth of employment opportunities and diversity of the workforce.

4. Integrate Lived Experience work in community care

The development of community-based stepped care in every region must include Lived Experience-led and Lived Experience delivered services. A national priority is to increase the integration of Lived Experience-led services and co-delivered peer support services into regional health care systems, ensuring that everyone has access to care that supports recovery including people in rural and remote areas and people from diverse communities.

5. Development is supported by a national Lived Experience strategy

Investment in the personal and family/carer Lived Experience workforces is vital for consistent national development. Development of national professional peak bodies representing the Lived Experience workforce is identified as a priority for future funding. A national priority is to support the development of peak body leadership for both the consumer and carer Lived Experience workforces at national and state levels.

1. Priorities for Lived Experience workforce development

Measuring progress

Collaborative effort towards these priorities will contribute to a mental health service system in which:

  • All mental health services are committed to recovery-oriented practice.
  • Everyone has access to care that supports recovery including people in rural and remote areas and people from diverse communities.
  • Lived Experience work is valued and identified as ‘core business’ in all mental health services.
  • Flexible workplace strategies support the wellbeing of all employees including the Lived Experience workforce.
  • Employment opportunities support the integrity of Lived Experience work and fidelity to the professional values and principles of the profession.
  • The Lived Experience workforce is reflective of diverse communities and different experiences of mental health and mental health services.
  • Co-production in equal and respectful partnership between Lived Experience expertise and mental health service provider expertise is the foundation for all mental health service development and evaluation including development of the Lived Experience workforce.
  • All stakeholders collect meaningful data and participate in evaluation and auditing to measure success and identify opportunities for ongoing development.
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Acknowledgement of Country

The Commission acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands throughout Australia.
We pay our respects to their clans, and to the elders, past present and emerging, and acknowledge their continuing connection to land, sea and community.


The Commission is committed to embracing diversity and eliminating all forms of discrimination in the provision of health services. The Commission welcomes all people irrespective of ethnicity, lifestyle choice, faith, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Lived Experience

We acknowledge the individual and collective contributions of those with a lived and living experience of mental ill-health and suicide, and those who love, have loved and care for them. Each person’s journey is unique and a valued contribution to Australia’s commitment to mental health suicide prevention systems reform.