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Lived experience workforce development

Building the lived experience workforce is a reform priority. We commissioned a new framework to develop the lived experience workforce in Queensland, including training, supervision, support, culture and career progression.

What we did

Barriers and enablers to workforce development

In 2016, the Commission funded Central Queensland University to undertake a research project, led by Dr Louise Byrne, to examine the barriers and enablers to the employment of people with a lived experience (peer workers) in the mental health sector.

This research focused specifically on understanding the perspectives of senior service managers, including those in public and non-government mental health services. It resulted in the Identifying Barriers to Change report and Identifying Barriers to Change summary, which highlighted three key issues for supporting the peer workforce:

•    organisational culture
•    role clarity, support and supervision, and
•    career pathways.

Key findings are outlined in the Commission’s summary: Barriers and enablers to lived experience workforce development.

The Queensland Framework for the Development of the Mental Health Lived Experience Workforce

The Queensland Framework for the Development of the Mental Health Lived Experience Workforce was launched in November 2019. 

The framework, and associated documents, is a toolkit for embedding people with lived experience of mental health challenges into public, private and non-government organisation (NGO) workplaces.
It includes strategies for establishing and supporting a lived experience workforce through training, supervision, support, culture and career progression.

The framework is intended to be flexible and transferable across:
•    public, private and non-government sectors 
•    alcohol and other drugs sector, and 
•    the suicide prevention sector.

The framework was developed through a co-design process by RMIT University researchers led by lived experience academic Dr Louise Byrne, and involving lived experience workforce leaders, based on the findings of the Identifying Barriers to Change report.

The toolkit

The toolkit is comprised of:

Read the media statement following the launch of the Queensland Framework for the Development of the Mental Health Lived Experience Workforce.

How does this support reform?

This initiative is a strategic priority under the Better Lives focus area of the Shifting minds 2018–2023 strategic plan. It aligns with the Queensland Health Mental Health Framework Peer Workforce Support and Development 2019, delivering on a commitment made under Connecting Care to Recovery 2016–2021: A plan for Queensland’s state funded mental health, alcohol and other drug services.

The framework has also helped inform development of the National Mental Health Commission’s Lived Experience (Peer) Workforce Development Guidelines published in 2021, the additional companion documents released in May 2023, and aligns with the National Productivity Commission Inquiry Report into Mental Health recommendation to strengthen the lived experience workforce.

The development of the framework also meets the Commission’s commitment to enhance the capability and capacity of the workforce, including the lived experience workforce, and to deliver integrated, personalised and trauma-informed care, which is also recommended in the 2022 Queensland Parliament Mental Health Select Committee Inquiry into the opportunities to improve mental health outcomes for Queenslanders report.