The development of a peer workforce in NSW is one of the recommendations in Living Well: A Strategic Plan for Mental Health in NSW: 2014-2024 Section 8.2, (Living Well) as adopted by the NSW Government.
People with lived experience of mental illness hold expertise that is incredibly valuable. Employing people with lived experience in peer worker roles to support others brings a tremendous range of benefits. Peer workers know what it is like to experience mental illness and can share experiences of personal recovery with consumers. People who are living well with mental illness represent hope that is often missing in people’s lives.
Peer workers, consumer advocates and consumer representatives have been employed by the public mental health sector for 20 years but they do not always encounter positive acceptance. Stigma and discrimination, sometimes subtle and sometimes obvious, can cause a divide between the peer workforce and other staff. Formal structures, policies and procedures that support the peer workforce and provide a development pathway are needed if government services are to realise their full potential.
The Peer Work Hub has been created in response to the recommendations outlined in Living Well as an online resource for organisations wanting to develop and grow their peer workforce.