Peer Support Worker, South Western Sydney LHD
“I enjoy my work because I can engender hope for recovery—if I can do it, they can do it as well.”
Lily Wu is a very busy woman but that’s just how she likes it.
On any work day, she can be providing peer support and advocating for consumers who are hospital inpatients or in the community; co-facilitating a group with health professionals; accompanying consumers to mental health review tribunal hearings; or advocating for system change by speaking out about the concerns and needs of consumers as well as contributing her expert feedback on policies.
And that isn’t the half of it.
Lily, who holds a BA in Literature from China, took part in the Certificate IV in Peer Work pilot. She went on to complete that qualification and these days also works as a peer educator with the South Eastern Sydney Recovery College, SESLHD, having co-written three of their courses.
Lily says her decision to become a peer worker was driven by the need to be better able to support herself and her two children. At the time of her decision, she was working as a hospital assistant at Liverpool Hospital, a work environment she describes as supportive and committed to inclusion. Because of that support, she was able to begin her now flourishing career as a peer professional, a career she encourages others to take up.
She is often called upon to speak about her own inspirational mental health recovery journey, helping to provide a voice for other consumers. She has been invited to participate not only in national, state and local health district committees but also internationally, such as at the International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership Exchange.
Lily believes having a peer workforce is very beneficial, not only for individual peer workers, but also for the community and for the government—she points out that when consumers are engaged in the workforce, the financial debt to government is reduced.
“People with mental illness can live meaningful, productive lives of their choice in a multicultural society and recovery is achievable with adequate support from health professionals, NGOs and family and friends. It’s important to give people the opportunity to grow.”