Why ‘Peer Inside’?

Peer work is a collective term for a broad range of roles where either consumer or carer lived experience is an essential requirement. In Victoria, this is often referred to as lived experience work because the phrase peer work is often used to describe peer support work, rather than the broad range of roles that comprise consumer and carer work.

  • Consumer and family carer lived experience workers, this page gives you access to tools and support to help you navigate being a ‘peer inside’ mental health services.
  • Managers, coordinators and colleagues this page helps you ‘peer inside’ and access information about consumer or family carer work.

Who are the lived experience (peer) workforces?

Diagram depicting the relationship between the lived experience workforces Diagram depicting the relationship between the lived experience workforces

Consumer and family and carer lived experience work (Downes and Edan 2017)

The consumer workforce

Consumer workers are people in paid positions that require a lived experience of mental health issues as an essential part of the selection criteria. Other skills and knowledge are required depending on the type of consumer role.

Consumer workers may provide direct support to consumers through peer support or advocacy, or indirectly through leadership, system advocacy, education, and research.

The family carer workforce

Family and carer workers are in paid positions that require lived experience of caring for family or friends who experience mental health issues. Other skills and knowledge required depending on the role.

Family carer workers support people who are in a consumers ‘family’ (including family of choice), some of whom may identify as carers. Family carer workers may provide direct support through peer support or advocacy, or indirectly through leadership, system advocacy, education, and research.

Please note, according to the National Mental Health Commission, National Lived Experience Workforce Guidelines: "Roles that combine both personal lived experience and family/carer perspectives working in a role utilising both perspectives is likely to cause confusion, issues with boundaries, and conflicts of interest. Combined roles are not recommended and should not be considered without intensive exploration and consultation with the Lived Experience workforce and agreement reached by both personal (consumer) and family/carer leaders and workforces." (p. 26)


For more information about lived experience work in Victoria see:

Consumer and family carer perspective supervision

Consumer and family carer perspective supervisors can provide supervision to other peer workers as well as to others working in mental health services. Provision of supervision from experienced lived experience workers is an urgent issue.

Consumer Perspective Supervision, A framework for supporting the consumer workforceButton to take you to an external link

Carer Perspective Supervision Framework, A framework for supporting the mental health family/carer lived experience workforceButton to take you to an external link


Networks and communities of practice

It is essential for consumer and family carer workers to be connected with others doing this type of work as a means of practice development, knowledge and resource sharing, reduce workplace isolation and to help protect against ‘peer drift’.

Mutuality an underpinning value, vital to the culture of the consumer and family carer workforces. Lived experience work has grown significantly in recent years however numbers are still low and a consumer or family carer worker may be the only consumer or family carer worker in their particular type of role in their organisation, or even in their geographic region.

As well as supporting people to establish face to face networks, we host a number of online communities of practice through Basecamp (online project management platform) for those with similar roles to connect and share information and experiences and learn together. Currently we host online communities of practice for: Peer Support Workers

Additionally, we hold networking and practice development events throughout the year as resourcing allows and as prioritised by the needs of the workforce.

To find out more, please contact us.

Information and support for new lived experience workers 

This resource has been developed to inform and support new consumer and family carer workers. It is not a comprehensive directory of every resource related to consumer or family carer lived experience work, rather it is a basis for you to build your own list of tools and resources to support your practice. 

The information provided here is for general information purposes. You will need to consider the information as it relates to your needs and your work. 

We value your input and feedback, if you have any changes or additions, please contact peerinside@cmhl.org.au

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