Authors: Irene Gallagher
Event: 2018 TheMHS Conference
Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers
Abstract: The consumer peer workforce in NSW have grown rapidly over the past twenty years, with more workers being employed across the health sector, including in public, private, and non-profit/community managed organisations. The value of lived experience is now recognised in a range of fields, including peer support, education, academia and research. However, as the workforce continue to grow they face a number of questions and challenges, for example what kind of support and supervision practices should be provided for workers and how should peer workers across the span of organisations work more collaboratively and effectively together. This symposium will provide an overview of some of the latest research into the experiences of consumer peer workers in NSW. It will outline current practices regarding working conditions, support, supervision and training for peer workers. We will look at some of the current challenges facing the workforce and the visions of peer workers for the future. We will explore the development of a NSW Peer Workforce Network and the NSW peer Workforce Network Committee, an innovative working group set up to develop practices and process to support and enhance the NSW Peer Workforce. All of the presenters identify as having a lived/living experience of mental health issues and currently work as peer workers. Paper 1: Findings of the 2017 Peer Workforce survey, Presented by Being; Being is the peak body representing people with a living/lived experience of mental health issues and emotional trauma, and has been involved in advocating for and supporting the peer workforce since its inception. In 2017, Being surveyed over 170 peer workers across NSW, with the aim of collecting qualitative and quantitative data about the contemporary experiences of being a peer worker in NSW. This survey contained questions about location, role, daily tasks, management, supervision, professional development, training and career progression. This presentation will discuss the findings of this survey, and provide a snapshot of the current experiences of peer workers in NSW, the diversity of roles they undertake and the challenges they face. Paper 2: Findings of the 2017 Lived Experience Workforce Survey, Presented by Peer Work Matters and Being; Peer Work Matters is a grassroots organisation setup to support the expansion of the peer workforce in NSW through direct training, mentoring, and peer supervision for the workforce as well as consulting into organisation to assist them to grow the peer workforce. In 2017, Peer Work Matters received a grant to research the experiences of people who identify as having a lived/living experience and work in mental health workplace settings. Through Collaboration with Being and the NSW Consumer Led Research Network, Peer Work Matters was able to produce their findings on the peoples staff experiences in the workplace, particularly in regards to training, support, supervision, recovery oriented practice in the workplace, inclusion, and mentally healthy workplaces. Paper 3: Developing a Peer Workforce Network Committee – Presented by the NSW Peer Workforce Network Committee (Being); The previous papers identified a number of challenges facing the consumer peer workforce in NSW, including a lack of access to training and mentoring, barriers to entering peer work, rates of pay, and collaborative approaches across the span of organisations, and opportunities for supervision and leadership for peer workers. In response to these challenges, Being was responsive to the needs of the consumer peer workforce and set up an initiative to address these issues and build an infrastructure in NSW to support the consumer peer workforce. The formation of the NSW Peer Workforce Network Committee has brought together as a core group of consumer peer workers from across the public, public, Not-for-profit/community managed sector, to collaborate on areas of need such as training and mentoring programs, peer supervision, and careers pathway trajectories. This paper will outline the process of setting up the Peer Workforce Network Committee and their goals and methods as a next step for the future of the consumer peer workforce in NSW. Group Interaction – Peer Workforce Panel discussion Time will be allocated for group interactions with a panel of peer workers consisting of the presenters, to open up dialogue of best practice for the consumer peer workforce. We welcome discussion from both consumer and carer peer workers, and other professionals.