National Lived Experience (Peer) Workforce Development Guidelines

How to use the National Development Guidelines

The National Development Guidelines provide an overview of the professional principles, values and roles of the Lived Experience workforce. They provide detailed steps for employers at each stage of the process, from planning a Lived Experience workforce through to embedding it as part of the service’s core business. It includes links to additional resources and action checklists making it suitable as a learning tool for managers and decision makers in health service organisations.

There are specific sections and information for funders/policymakers, employers, and Lived Experience leaders/workers across all sectors and at all stages of Lived Experience workforce development.

The National Development Guidelines are separated into three sections, each focussing on the information needs of different stakeholders. Together, they provide a shared agenda for change that acknowledges the different but equally important roles of each stakeholder group.

Understanding the value of Lived Experience work: Chapter 1

This section outlines the underpinning values and principles of designated Lived Experience work and provides clarity to understand authentic lived experience practice, different types of Lived Experience work, and direction on how non-designated colleagues and managers can best support Lived Experience workforce development.

This section is essential reading for everyone in mental health care, at all levels and in all roles, including senior leadership and health practitioners and Lived Experience leaders and the existing Lived Experience workforce. Understanding authentic Lived Experience work is necessary for all aspects of Lived Experience workforce development.

Development stages for employing organisations: Chapters 2 to 6

This section provides information for organisations that employ people in designated Lived Experience roles or that are planning to develop a Lived Experience workforce. Organisations, sectors and jurisdictions are at different stages of Lived Experience workforce development. This section details the recommended stages and steps to build a robust, effective, and well supported Lived Experience workforce. The first step is developing understanding and is relevant to everyone in mental health care.

The order of tasks within the Stages of Development will differ across organisations, settings and jurisdictions depending on the current level of development. The important thing is that all tasks are addressed at some point to provide conditions for the most effective and impactful employment of Lived Experience workers.

Planning and supporting mental health reform: Chapters 7 and 8

The final section provides information on areas of interest to Lived Experience agencies and leaders, funding bodies, policy makers and service commissioners. In this section you will find information on systems level development to support professionalisation and workforce growth, including suggested funding priorities.

A suite of resources

The National Development Guidelines are published as a suite of documents that will continue to be developed as the Lived Experience workforce grows and our shared knowledge and understanding of this essential work deepens.

Companion documents to the National Development Guidelines currently include:

Growing a Thriving Lived Experience Workforce: A national roadmap for collaborative development. This provides a brief overview of the National Development Guidelines with an emphasis on a national shared agenda for change in mental health care.

Lived Experience Roles: A practical guide to designing and developing Lived Experience positions. This provides practical guidance to managers and Human Resource services on the design and implementation of new Lived Experience positions.

Summary of Consultations: Informing the development of the Guidelines. Findings from the survey, focus groups and interviews undertaken during the development of the National Development Guidelines.

Future companion documents may include:

  • Developing Employment Opportunities: self-assessment decision-making tool for employers. The future companion document will provide a brief overview of the actions for employers in mental health including reflective tools to assist in the first essential steps in workforce development: clarification, developing understanding, and commitment.
  • Lived Experience workforce role in regional mental health and suicide prevention: self-assessment tool for Primary Health Networks and regional service planners.
  • Investing in Lived Experience Workforce Development: Priorities for service planners, policy makers and funding bodies (work in progress).

All published Guidelines are available for download on the following National Mental Health Commission’s  webpage:…

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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.