What do we do?

The Consumer Workforce Development Coordinator and the Family Carer Workforce Development Coordinator are key team members of the CMHL. We work closely with consumer and family carer workers, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), training organisations, health services, and peak bodies to support the development of the mental health consumer and family carer workforces in Victoria.




Identifying the support and development needs of the consumer and family carer workforces and their organisations.

  • The Consumer Workforce strategy (pdf, word) launched July 2019
  • The Family Carer Workforce strategy (pdf, word) launched July 2019



Training and activities to address identified workforce needs



Resources to support the consumer and carer workforce and their organisations.



Networks and communities of practice in relation to lived experience work


Our approach

Our work is informed by the following frameworks:

  • Human rights and rights-based practice
  • Co-production and co-design
  • Trauma informed
  • Intentional Peer Support
  • Recovery oriented practice

Current priorities and work


Workforce Development Strategies

Mental Health Consumer Workforce Strategy

A Consumer Workforce Development Strategy has been created with leadership from the Consumer Workforce Development Group. This group has worked in partnership with DHHS to provide direction and advice for policy and initiatives that relate to the consumer workforce. Members of the Consumer Workforce Development Group were all consumer workers experienced across a range of roles, except for those who were department members.

Consumer Workforce Strategy (pdf, word) launched 1 July 2019

Workforce Development Themes

Mental Health Family Carer Workforce Strategy

In collaboration with family carer workforce, the Carer Workforce Development Group have developed a vision for the family carer workforce. Practical steps to make the vision a reality have been mapped out and are contained within this Strategy.

Members of the Carer Workforce Development Group were family carer workers experienced across a range of roles, and two DHHS members.

Family Carer Workforce Strategy (pdf, word) launched 1 July 2019 

The Strategies are live action plans with stewardship held by key workforce partners (listed in alphabetical order):

  • The Bouverie Centre, La Trobe University 
  • Carer Lived Experience Workforce Network 
  • Centre for Mental Health Learning 
  • Centre for Psychiatric Nursing, Melbourne University 
  • Department of Health and Human Services 
  • Mental Health Victoria 
  • Self Help Addiction Resource Centre
  • Tandem 
  • Victorian Dual Diagnosis Initiative Leadership Group 
  • Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council


Organisation readiness

Research shows that a fundamental element for successful establishment of lived experience roles is organisation commitment and action to create an environment where lived experience roles are fully understood, genuinely valued and authorised to operate in line with consumer and family carer values.  

A range of activities including review of: recruitment processes, role descriptions and policies. Discipline specific supervision and training are also required to ensure that the organisation is ready to employ to any consumer and family carer role. This includes training for management and other disciplines which can uncover some of the complexities unique to working as a person with lived experience within the mental health sector. These activities must be done with leadership from those suitably experienced in consumer or family carer work.

CMHL consumer and family carer leadership and collaboration

We are currently undertaking consultation to design, develop and implement consumer and family carer leadership process and structures to inform the work of the CMHL and the development and support of the lived experience workforces.

Get involved!

Keep informed about opportunities to get involved by signing up for the CMHL newsletter or contact us to join our online Networks and Communities of Practice.

About us

Photo of Lorna Downes

Lorna Downes

Family Carer Workforce Development Coordinator

Hi, I’m Lorna Downes.  I have been the Family Carer Workforce Development Coordinator since the roles began in November 2016. My background is in family carer peer support, education and advocacy.

I have been involved in the development and delivery of the Certificate IV Mental Health Peer Work, as well as workshops about peer work, recovery-oriented practice, trauma informed care, and family carer representation. I have also delivered training for mental health and community workers about working with families and carers, and telegroup counselling facilitator training. I am an accredited Intentional Peer Support (IPS) core skills facilitator and an emotional CPR (eCPR) apprentice facilitator. I'm excited about the potential for people to create mutually supportive relationships.

My work is grounded in my experience of caring about family and friends affected by mental distress and substance use. Family peer support and carer education were lifesaving for me and supporting family carer workers to provide these powerful gifts is an honour and privilege.


David Barclay

Consumer Workforce Development Coordinator

I began Lived Experience work in 2016 at the Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council (VMIAC), educating consumers on navigating the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). I worked as a consumer consultant at Inner West Area Mental Health Service, chairing the Consumer Advisory Group (C:/Drive), running consumer led sessions for student nurses, providing feedback, encouraging co-design/co-production, and advocating for change. 

My fondest professional memories involve touring "NDIS the Musical" throughout the state and up the eastern coast. 

At CMHL, I support the growing consumer workforce in embedding the lived experience voice across the public mental health sector.  

I have a background in the arts and education, both of which continue to be my preferred therapeutic outlets. I am passionate about transparency, the recovery model, trauma informed care, supported decision making, dual diagnosis, de-stigmatising & normalising mental health matters, and will happily monologue at length on the power of diversity, storytelling and hope.


Contact us

Please contact us to join an online community of practice (Basecamp) or with questions, feedback or suggestions


Lorna Downes / David Barclay