National Lived Experience (Peer) Workforce Development Guidelines


The Contributing Life framework subsequently underpins all of the Commission’s work to ensure individuals live a contributing life; have equitable opportunity; have the best possible mental health and wellbeing; are included; and have knowledge, assurance and respect. The importance of recovery oriented practices are a critical aspect of enabling people to live full and contributing lives.

These National Development Guidelines would not have been possible without the many hundreds of people who contributed their valuable time and expertise to help inform, shape and refine them. Nor would they have been possible without the pioneers in the consumer movement who paved the way over many decades for the possibilities that exist today. Therefore, we dedicate this work to all people with a lived experience of mental health challenges, as well as their families and significant others. We stand with them in solidarity, with hope that anyone can go on to live a purposeful and meaningful life of their own choosing.

Acknowledgement and commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, perspectives and priorities

It is critical that the National Development Guidelines embrace a commitment to honouring and celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and promote alignment of lived experience work to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives and practice. Australia’s First Nations Peoples represent two distinct cultures, Aboriginal, and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. Within these broad cultural groups, there is also great diversity of cultures, languages, kinship structures and ways of life.


Definition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ Lived Experience:

A lived experience recognises the effects of ongoing negative historical impacts and or specific events on the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. It encompasses the cultural, spiritual, physical, emotional and mental wellbeing of the individual, family or community.

People with lived or living experience of suicide are those who have experienced suicidal thoughts, survived a suicide attempt, cared for someone through a suicidal crisis, been bereaved by suicide or have a loved one who has died by suicide, acknowledging that this experience is significantly different and takes into consideration Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples ways of understanding social and emotional wellbeing.

Without intentional and specific inclusion of appropriate and respectful responses in our pledge and commitment to closing the gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social and emotional wellbeing, these National Development Guidelines would not reflect the significant need for inclusivity and collaboration. The leadership, cultural practices and expertise of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples across all parts of the Australian mental health and suicide prevention sector is critical to improving outcomes and building strong and powerful input to the Lived Experience workforce.

This aligns with the foundational principles of the Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Declaration


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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.