Consumer and Family Carer Workforce Development

Our vision

The Victorian consumer and family carer lived experience (peer) workforces are valued, resourced and supported in their work.


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.

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 framework

In 2015, a workshop on consumer perspective supervision held at the Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council (VMIAC) workforce conference highlighted that  a lack of expert, discipline-specific, consumer perspective supervision was a key risk to the workforce. In response to this the Centre for Psychiatric Nursing (CPN), VMIAC and independent consumer leaders approached the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to collaborate on a project that would uncover and articulate the particular support needs of the consumer workforce and contribute to addressing those support needs.

Consumer perspective supervision: a framework for supporting consumer workers (the Framework) forms one part of the overall project. It is intended to guide supervisees, supervisors and organisations in undertaking strong processes to support consumer perspective supervision by outlining the specific functions, importance and benefits of consumer perspective supervision.

Consumer Perspective Supervision, A framework for supporting the consumer workforce

Consumer-led and family carer-led innovation grants

A Consumer-led and Family Carer-led Workforce Innovation Grant Program was established by the Department to support innovation projects related to workforce development. Our roles support the awarded projects that are now underway.

More information about the grants and the projects can be viewed on the DHHS website. Button 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.