The Peer Workforce

30 April 2021

What is the peer workforce and why does it matter?

The NMHCCF believes that peer workers play a critical role in the transformational changes necessary to develop recovery-oriented mental health services and systems.

The mental health consumer and carer identified workforce is made up of those consumers and carers who are employed specifically on the basis of their personal lived experience of:

  • Mental illness and recovery (consumer peer worker); or
  • supporting family or friends with mental ill-health (carer peer worker).

This lived experience is an essential qualification for their job, in addition to other qualifications, skills and experience required for the role they undertake.

Peer workers can be employed in government, public, private or community-managed services.

Peer worker roles

Apart from peer support work, peer worker roles can include:

  • positions within management
  • advocacy and representation
  • as consultants and advisers
  • health promotion
  • education and training
  • supervision
  • evaluation
  • auditing
  • research

Specialist peer work positions may also be created for different population groups, including, for example, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, culturally and linguistically diverse communities, and forensic patients.

A specific qualification - Certificate IV in Mental Health (Peer Work) - has been established to cement the professional role of the peer worker in the mental health and human services system.  Peer worker roles are being developed, offered and filled across service providers.

The next step in the development of the Peer Workforce is the establishment of a national member-based organisation in Australia for all peer workers, including those in a volunteer or support capacity.

NMHCCF Recommends

The NMHCCF stresses that peer workers must be considered valued members of a team, bringing their lived experience as a specialist expertise. Peer Workers should be seen as an essential part of, not an add-on to, support/service/care teams. Peer workers must be adequately supported and sustained into and in their roles with quality ongoing training and supervision. They must also be remunerated at a level commensurate with their skills and training.

Download the full advoacy brief

Advocacy Brief - The Peer Workforce