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A blueprint for building the 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 are a toolkit for embedding people with lived experience of mental health challenges into public, private and NGO workplaces.

It was developed by RMIT University researchers led by lived experience academic Dr Louise Byrne and funded by the Queensland Mental Health Commission.

The Framework and supporting documents are available for download and printing here:

The framework builds on evidence that suggests employing people who have experienced mental health issues (peer workers, or lived experience workers) can contribute to positive outcomes for people with mental illness and potentially reduces costs for mental health services.

Its development was a co-design process involving the Commission, Dr Byrne and other lived experience workforce leaders.

The framework is intended to be flexible and transferable across public, private and non-government sectors, and to lived experience of alcohol and other drugs use and those affected by suicide, with strategies for establishing and supporting a lived experience workforce through training, supervision, support, culture and career progression.

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 development and launch of the framework meets the Commission’s commitment to enhance the capability and capacity of the workforce, including the lived experience workforce, to deliver integrated, personalised and trauma-informed care. This is identified as a strategic priority under the Better Lives focus area of the Shifting minds: Queensland Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drugs Strategic Plan 2018-2023.

The framework will inform development of the National Mental Health Commission’s Peer Workforce Development Guidelines, and aligns with a National Productivity Commission draft inquiry into mental health recommendation to strengthen the lived experience workforce.

Supporting lived experience in the health sector

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
  • Career pathways

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