National Lived Experience (Peer) Workforce Development Guidelines

Chapter 2 - Preparation: clarify and commit

Leadership and culture

Workplace culture is shaped by the attitudes and beliefs of workers and is crucial to the success of Lived Experience roles. A workplace culture that genuinely views lived experience as valuable and essential will later assist the roles to be accepted and meaningfully embedded.

 

Leadership understanding of Lived Experience work

Understanding the uniqueness and potential benefits of Lived Experience work supports Lived Experience workforce development as it promotes commitment to the work.

Although whole-of-sector/whole-of-workforce understanding and commitment is important going forward, leadership or management understanding is critical to getting started, and is a specific focus at the earliest stages. Exposing leadership of all relevant governments, funding bodies/policy makers and individual organisations to Lived Experience work and perspectives, leads to increased understanding and valuing of Lived Experience work as well as active commitment..

 

Build Lived Experience relationships and literacy

To progress exposure and understanding, it is important to build relationships with Lived Experience leaders, organisations, services, peak bodies and networks. Referring to lived experience sources of information including Lived Experience-led research and industry documents is also valuable. Regularly interacting with lived experience sources increases understanding of Lived Experience roles, potential benefits, and provides guidance on how to effectively design positions and utilise and support Lived Experience workers.

Lived Experience networks exist in most jurisdictions as well as nationally. For those with limited previous exposure to Lived Experience networks, Appendix 3 provides a list of peak agencies that can be contacted as a starting point.

Importantly, good lived experience relationships and literacy will lift understanding and vision of what is possible

Build Lived Experience relationships and literacy

 

Build whole-of-workforce commitment to Lived Experience

Commitment to lived experience progresses when Lived Experience work is valued and seen as ‘core business’ by people in positions of authority. Building broader support for Lived Experience work is fostered when this value is widely communicated to every level of the sector/individual organisations. Whole-of-workforce understanding and commitment is essential to build acceptance and effective collaboration between designated Lived Experience and non-designated colleagues. Without this understanding, commitment and collaboration, the potential benefits of Lived Experience work are restricted.

Commitment is demonstrated in various ways; the following diagram outlines key areas of commitment:

Figure 5: Commitment to Lived Experience workforce development

Commitment to Lived Experience workforce development

 

Build awareness of diverse perspectives

Workplace culture that embraces diversity fosters respect for all employees and sends a strong message that diversity is valued. To achieve this, organisations can build their understanding of diverse perspectives and needs.

A diverse Lived Experience workforce assists individual organisations and the wider sector to better meet the needs of people with different experiences, identifications and backgrounds. Practice and service outcomes are likely to be enhanced. Learning and embracing concepts and language that are appropriate and inclusive for people from diverse experiences, identifications and backgrounds helps create a more inclusive culture. Ensuring language and concepts are not exclusively focused on Western definitions and practices is particularly important to create culturally appropriate services.

The need for adequate and appropriate support is emphasised for Lived Experience workers who are in representative roles for their culture and community. These roles often carry additional opportunities but also place much weight on the shoulders of workers. It is acknowledged that in these roles the opportunities to explore, understand experiences and build relationships is not limited to the role as a Lived Experience worker, but also arises as a result of an affiliation with the culture and community. This can create blurring of lines between work and personal life.

For all service providers, funders, planners and policy makers, one of the first steps towards Lived Experience workforce development must be to build relationships with and gain guidance from Lived Experience leaders and sources. Depending on the service focus, consideration must be given to the distinct needs of people in different communities such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, people in rural, regional and remote areas, people from culturally diverse backgrounds, people identifying as LGBTQIA+ and people with a disability, among others.

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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.

Diversity

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.