As part of our Pathways to Peer Work Project, the Lived Experience Workforce Program (LEWP) is building quality pathways to employment and training for people exploring a career in mental health Peer work.

In April we ran another 4-day Orientation to Mental Health Peer Work Program for people wanting to know more about the Peer workforce as a potential career pathway. The program provides an in-depth orientation to Lived Experience as a skill set, what it takes to be an effective Peer worker and employee in the non-government (NGO) sector and the realities of studying the Certificate IV in Mental Health Peer Work.

Prior to the face-to-face program, participants engaged in an online information session which gave them an overview of different ways in which Lived Experience of mental health challenges and recovery can be utilised (Peer work, advocacy and representation), introduced them to the Peer work qualification and provided space for them to choose whether to express interest in being selected to continue on to the program. Those who chose not to continue were supported to connect with other Lived Experience networks and opportunities.

Sixteen nervous but enthusiastic people arrived on day one and were soon actively engaging and on a steep learning curve as they were introduced in more depth to Lived Experience work history and frameworks, Peer work employment and study through presentations, role modelling, activities, guest speakers, reading…and asking lots of brilliant questions!

I was grateful to have peer support provided to the group by an experienced NGO mental health Peer worker over each day of the program and to representatives from Centacare’s Registered Training Organisation, who guided the group through their selection process for potential enrolment in the qualification. The willingness of guest speakers to share their insights and incredible wisdom with the group makes it a rich and comprehensive program. The material developed by LEWP’s Program Manager warmly and safely invites people into the world of Peer work – new to many – and reflects key focus areas co-designed by the NGO sector, current Peer workers and past/current students of the qualification.

Participants told us what they most appreciated about the experience:

  • It was delivered in a trauma informed way
  • What it’s like to be a peer worker – the good and bad sides. A peer perspective, having a peer worker here talking about their experience. Having it be presented by someone with a lived experience
  • Sessions were insightful, informative and purposeful
  • An outstanding four days of building information to build future pathways and career and purpose!
  • Thank you for the orientation today! It was great to get more insight about Cert IV Mental Health Peer Work. It has helped me consolidate my belief that my skills and strengths around my lived experience would be a great asset

We can’t wait to see them in the Lived Experience workforce soon.

In a few months, LEWP will launch a video highlighting the experience of two previous program participants and how after an uncertain start, they are now happily studying and employed in Peer work roles gained through work placement. Stay tuned!

Read more about the Orientation to Mental Health Peer Work Program here https://mhcsa.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/LEWP-Orientation-Overview-120422.pdf If you are interested in joining our mailing list to receive details of the next course (late 2022), contact me at the address below.

Lizzie Graham – Senior Project Officer, LEWP

lizzie.graham@mhcsa.org.au