S36: ‘Building Foundations’ – Updates on QLD Lived Experience Workforce developments – One Year Later

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By September 5, 2019 No Comments

Authors: Paula Arro, Eschleigh Balzamo

Year: 2019

Event: 2019 TheMHS Conference

Subject: ‘Building Foundations’ - Updates on QLD Lived Experience Workforce developments - One Year Later

Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers



Eschleigh’s career has focused on working into the nexus of evidence and experience. Eschleigh is currently CEO of Brook RED where she has the incredible privilege of working in a team of Lived Experience practitioners delivering a range of mental health and suicide prevention services from a peer framework.

Paula Arro is the Consumer and Carer Participation Coordinator for Mental Health and Alcohol and Other Drugs at the Brisbane North PHN. This 'identified' lived experience coordination role includes Consumer and Carer engagement within the PHN and working externally to build the capacity for a coordinated and collaborative approach that is person centred and where there is 'nothing about us without us'. One key priority area of work is building the Lived Experience Workforce. Following on from the 2017 TheMHS conference, a diverse group of Lived-Experience Practitioners began meeting to discuss their experiences, concerns, and the potential for collaboration to address issues facing the Peer Workforce in QLD. The roundtable is hosted by Brook RED and Brisbane North PHN and identified several shared issues impacting all regions across a range of services in QLD:

1. Peer Work Leadership involvement is insufficient
2. No clear benchmark or standards exist for the Peer Workforce
3. The quality of training for Peer Workers varies considerably and is often inadequate
4. Limited supervision and supports exist for the Peer Workforce
5. There is a lack of an active Consumer Advocacy Peak Body

The roundtable resolved to continue working together on a number of priority actions.

• Identification of resources to support sustainable regional representation in the Roundtable
• Mapping Peer Workers and networks and workers in the state to support inclusive communication and consultation
• Supporting the establishment of peak body and/or advisory structure to support the Peer Workforce and hosting a Lived Experience Leadership Forum to shape Statewide structures.

The consultations have supported the view that a peak body is a vital component of supporting the ongoing development and growth of the lived experience workforce across Queensland. Considering this, the establishment of a peak body known as Queensland Lived Experience Workforce (Q-LEWN) will be explored.

Formation of Q-LEWN Recommendations

1. Move forward with the establishment of Q-LEWN as a peak for Lived Experience workers across Queensland Mental Health Services
2. Develop Expression of Interest (EOI) process for recruiting an advisory group
3. Provide a detailed report to Queensland Mental Health Commission (QMHC) on the outcomes of consultations and seek in principle support for a peak body.
4. Explore potential funding mechanisms
5. Establish Q-LEWN as a formal association
6. Recruit to board of directors and operational executive
7. Evaluate the establishment and first 6 months of operation

This presentation will provide an update and share the experience of an organic process of a grass roots approach to having a collective Lived Experience Workforce Voice.

Learning Objectives

Learning Objective 1: Explore a community development, grassroots approach to getting Lived Experience Workforce on the agenda.

Learning Objective 2:Successes, challenges and learnings from trying to create a collective voice without a 'peaky' type body/organisation or network.


National mental health commission - Literature review and recommendations for a National Lived Experience Peak Body (2019)

QLD Mental Health Commission (2017) Identifying Barriers to Change report

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