Authors: Lorna Downes, Michelle Swann, Rachael Lovelock
Event: 2017 TheMHS Conference
Subject: Lived Experience, Recovery,Service Systems, Delivery, Implementation,Workforce
Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers
Abstract: Over the past twenty years the carer lived experience workforce in mental health has been evolving. From its early beginnings in grass roots organisations, the carer lived experience workforce has now expanded into roles such as carer consultants, policy officers, project workers, advisors and most recently, peer support workers embedded in clinical teams. The carer lived experience workforce is growing and becoming more established in both community and clinical settings.
With this expansion there is a need for the workforce to better articulate its work. As with any other discipline or professional stream, guidelines for practice are required, together with relevant support and supervision structures. In addition, the Victorian Government’s 10-year Mental Health Plan identifies the lived experience workforce as an important sector to grow and support.
This paper explores the development of carer lived experience as a discipline, distinct from but related to other workforces that support family-inclusive/sensitive practice and consumer peer work. The paper will also examine key issues from workforce development, community and clinical perspectives, and the work that has been done in Victoria to best describe, define and support this emerging discipline.
Learning Objective 1: Participants will be able to describe the family/carer lived experience workforce as a discipline, the valuable contribution family/carer lived experience workers make to a service and how family/carer workforce can be supported in their organisation.
Learning Objective 2: This topic is important and relevant for mental health services as the family/carer workforce is growing, and with this growth is a need for role clarity.
1) Carer Consultants Network of Victoria (2012) Orientation Manual & Toolkit: Training for Carer Peer Workforce. Melbourne. Co-produced with The Victorian Mental Health Carers Network Inc (Now Tandem)
2) ARAFEMI (2011) Best Models for Carer Workforce Development: Carer Peer Support Workers, Carer Consultants, Carer Advocates and Carer Advisors, ARAFEMI WA (Prepared by ARAFEMI Vic) Retrieved 28 July 2015 from
3) Victorian Government 2016, Victoria’s 10-year Mental Health Plan Mental Health Plan, State of Victoria, Department of Health and Human Services, Melbourne Australia, viewed 08 March 2017,
4) Victoria Government 2016, Victoria’s 10-year Mental Health Plan Mental Health Plan Mental Health Workforce Strategy, State of Victoria, Department of Health and Human Services, Melbourne Australia, viewed 08 March 2017