National Lived Experience (Peer) Workforce Development Guidelines

Chapter 8 - Priorities for funding and service commissioning

Future funding structures and systems will need to adapt to a new Lived Experience workforce. Funding bodies and sector wide policy makers can facilitate development of the Lived Experience workforce by prioritising workforce development projects, investing substantially and sustainably in Lived Experience work.

Ensure that funding decisions are based on a clear understanding of Lived Experience work

To ensure that approaches to policy, funding and service commissioning are informed by lived experience sources and best practice evidence, funding bodies and commissioning agencies:

  • Develop understanding of Lived Experience work. Leaders and staff participate in Lived Experience-led training.
  • Acknowledge diversity and cultural differences in relation to concepts of mental health and the implications for policy, service design and service standards.
  • Create leadership roles for Lived Experience within funding bodies, including government bodies and service commissioning bodies to increase the priority of Lived Experience work in funding and policy guidelines.
  • Ensure that funding and commissioning guidelines are informed by best practice as discussed in the National Development Guidelines and prioritise Lived Experience workforce development.
  • Assess tenders, submissions and policy initiatives in co-production with Lived Experience workers.
  • Review periodically the outcomes and impacts of Lived Experience workforce initiatives across funded programs and services. Engage Lived Experience leaders and workers in any review process.


Priorities for funding reflect the National Development Guidelines

Design funding and commissioning guidelines for mental health services that prioritise:


Co-designed and co-produced services

  • Co-design and co-production.
  • Development of the Lived Experience workforce.
  • Long-term sustainable projects.
  • Sustainable funding for existing and new Lived Experience-run or Lived Experience-led organisations.

Lived Experience-led or run organisations can provide an invaluable resource to guide and provide clarity on authentic Lived Experience work. Although presently Australian Lived Experience workforce development is predominantly occurring in multi-disciplinary settings, in other parts of the world Lived Experience-run services are more prevalent. Australian research supports the need for greater funding and priority given to Lived Experience-run services, particularly to assist role clarity, provide support and supervision opportunities for the Lived Experience workforce, and help mentor other organisations to better support their Lived Experience workforce.


Sustained commitment to professionalisation

Funding the development and adequate resourcing of national and state peak bodies for the personal and family/carer Lived Experience workforces is a priority for workforce development. These professional bodies should be specifically focused on workforce issues/paid Lived Experience work and distinct from consumer/carer peak bodies, representing the interests and rights of Lived Experience workers in designated roles.

Adequate funding and time is required to ensure all movement towards professionalisation of the Lived Experience workforce, including development and delivery of education and training, is Lived Experience-led, evidence-based and informed by the collective.

The actions for Lived Experience agencies are identified in Section 7 of these National Development Guidelines. These provide a checklist for funding priorities.


Workforce development

Prioritise funding to support employers to engage a thriving Lived Experience workforce:

  • Awareness and Understanding: Lived Experience-led training for the whole sector to build understanding and perceived value of Lived Experience work and principles and support the growth of the Lived Experience workforce.


  • Employment Opportunities:Sustainable and secure funding to develop and grow the Lived Experience workforce, with a particular focus on:
    • projects meeting the needs of regional, rural and remote areas
    • projects to commence a Lived Experience workforce for the first time
    • sustainable funding for existing and new Lived Experience-run or Lived Experience-led organisations
    • increasing Lived Experience leadership positions and specialist roles.


  • Professional Development: upskilling the Lived Experience workforce across the career span from entry to leadership through funding for:
    • development of Lived Experience-produced and led entry-level training
    • affordable and accessible educational opportunities that maintain multiple pathways into Lived Experience employment rather than mandatory accreditations/qualifications
    • increase in positions in the Certificate IV in Mental Health Peer Work, particularly in rural, regional and remote locations and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples
    • positions at conferences, symposiums and other professional development scholarships for Lived Experience workers
    • professional development opportunities for development of leadership skills
    • scholarships for research higher degrees which are Lived Experience specific
    • projects that provide alternative pathways for learning and recognition of prior learning such as paid apprenticeships/traineeships and on-the-job training approaches.


Knowledge generation: Lived Experience research

Prioritise the collection and analysis of data on the Lived Experience workforce to generate new knowledge and inform future policy and guidelines:

  • Collection of data on the Lived Experience workforce. There is currently a lack of data on this workforce and collection is essential as a foundation for monitoring workforce development.
  • Lived Experience produced and co-produced research/evaluations regarding Lived Experience concepts and work to develop the evidence base and inform evidence-based practice.
  • Outcome measures that align with recovery, person-directed and trauma-informed approaches. Research with significant engagement of the collective Lived Experience workforce to define the theoretical underpinnings of the Lived Experience workforce and inform future development of training, education and qualifications.
  • Lived experience specific research fellowships across the career span.
  • Research to explore cultural and language barriers to engagement with mental health services and Lived Experience work.
  • Research to better understand family/carer roles, including similarities and differences between family/carer roles and personal Lived Experience roles.
  • Research to gain evidence on alternatives to coercive and restrictive practice.


Achieving change in mental health services and systems will take time. To be effective, the Lived Experience workforce needs to be sustained for the long-term. The development of funding, policy and service planning approaches that are able to support Lived Experience workforce development is both an immediate need and an ongoing commitment.

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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.