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Abstract

This is a companion document to the 'Queensland Framework for Lived Experience (peer) workforce development'. The 'role titles and descriptions' document can be used with the Framework to assist organizations in developing appropriate peer roles across a range of settings and at different levels within the organization (including senior or management roles)
Role Titles and Descriptions
for the Development of the
Mental Health
Lived Experience
Workforce
1
Role Titles and Descriptions for the Development of the Mental Health Lived Experience Workforce
About this document
This is a companion document to the Queensland Framework for the Development of the Mental Health
Lived Experience Workforce and is intended to assist organisations and lived experience workers to
develop and support lived experience roles that are meaningful, and that reflect the values of lived
experience work and recovery. This document includes the qualities and practices of lived experience
workers that contribute to effective lived experience work.
While the framework aims to increase understanding of the
lived experience workforce and provide clear information
for organisations on how to structure and support lived
experience roles, this Role Titles and Descriptions document
provides a comprehensive guide to assist organisations to
design meaningful lived experience roles and can be used
in conjunction with the framework.
All documents in the package are available for download
from the Queensland Mental Health Commission Lived
Experience Led Reform webpage: qmhc.qld.gov.au/engage-
enable/lived-experience-led-reform/peer-workforce.
Job descriptions assist in making lived experience roles
successful by explaining what the role involves, and
providing role clarity and consistency with position
descriptions. When roles are not clearly defined, there is a
risk lived experience worker might not be working optimally
and could feel unsupported.
This document is a collection of role titles and descriptions
to assist with writing position descriptions and ensuring role
clarity. The information is provided by many lived experience
workers who have shared what is meaningful in describing
the what, why and how of their work. Most of the information
is in the words of lived experience workers—these sections
are titled ‘in our own words’; however, we have also included
more formal descriptions. Any of the ideas and tips can be
customised to your workplace.
Much of the information in this document is from the
generous contribution of lived experience leaders who
formed the Advisory Group and Strategic Forum for the
framework. In addition, the framework survey sought
contributions on role titles and descriptions from lived
experience workers across Queensland in a variety of roles,
position titles and settings.
Suggested citation
Roennfeldt, H., Byrne, L., Wang, Y., Chapman, M., Darwin, L. Role Titles and Descriptions for the Development
of the Mental Health Lived Experience Workforce. 2019, Queensland Government: Brisbane.
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Role Titles and Descriptions for the Development of the Mental Health Lived Experience Workforce
Contents
About this document ..........................................................................................................1
Contents ...............................................................................................................................................2
Uniqueness of lived experience roles ........................................................3
Values, skills and underpinning theories .............................................3
Values .......................................................................................................................................................4
Values underpinning practice
in the words of lived experience workers .....................................................................4
Skills ..........................................................................................................................................................5
Direct work ...........................................................................................................................................5
Indirect work .......................................................................................................................................5
Skills in the words of lived experience workers .......................................................5
Theories ................................................................................................................................................6
Training and qualifications .....................................................................................................6
Connection to wider community .........................................................................................6
Personal qualities and core competencies
in the words of lived experience workers .....................................................................7
Role titles and formal position descriptions ....................................8
Lived experience direct support .........................................................................................8
Lived experience leader/manager ....................................................................................9
Examples of emerging best practice............................................................................ 10
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Role Titles and Descriptions for the Development of the Mental Health Lived Experience Workforce
Uniqueness of
lived experience roles
Lived experience roles are not just informed by an
individual’s experience with challenge, support or
even ‘recovery’, rather it’s how those experiences are
contextualised in relation to the wider lived experience
movement and universal issues of marginalisation and
loss of identity or citizenship. Ultimately, lived experience
work is about how experiences are understood and applied
to benefit others.
Position descriptions can support the uniqueness of lived
experience roles and show a clear distinction from the work
of non-designated roles. Lived experience roles span from
entry level to more specialist roles and leadership positions.
Regardless of the role, all lived experience workers share
a focus on relationships as instrumental to the work and
connection to the broader lived experience movement.
Lived experience workers identified the following principles
that were common across all these roles:
capacity to convey hope
personal identification with and experiences
of a mental health challenge
willingness to share experiences.
Many lived experience workers have described their role
as including advocacy and identification as a change agent.
The role as change agent is described as the ability
to influence and contribute more broadly to effective
mental health service delivery.
Values, skills and
underpinning theories
Job descriptions usually list key criteria, core competencies
and adherence to models of practice. These descriptions
can be further broken down into the desired values, skills
and underpinning theories in lived experience work.
These values, skills and theories interlock together
to form a foundation for effective lived experience roles.
Values
Skills
Theories
4
Values
Role Titles and Descriptions for the Development of the Mental Health Lived Experience Workforce
The values of an organisation are reflected the Mission Statement and in
the position descriptions for its staff. In promoting its lived experience work,
every position description should be a product of the value placed
on lived experience and a statement of why lived experience
is part of mental health work.
Values underpinning practice
in the words of lived experience workers
“Recognise the value
of lived experience”
“Consultative
approach”
“Capacity to
be vulnerable”
“Personal investment
in the work”
“Openness”
“Non-judgemental”
“Empathy”
“Authenticity”
“Respect”
“Value experientially
gained knowledge”
“Human rights”
“Inclusion and
valuing diversity”
“Equity”
“Social Justice”
“Dignity of risk’
5
Skills
Role Titles and Descriptions for the Development of the Mental Health Lived Experience Workforce
Skills in lived experience work are diverse and include both direct and indirect work.
Lived experience workers describe a range of skill areas, across a diversity
of lived experience roles, from direct work with individuals and groups,
to more indirect administrative tasks, systemic advocacy and executive governance.
Process skills in lived experience roles have been emphasised as
‘not so much what you do as how you do it’ that is important.
Direct work
Individual support and facilitating groups
sharing experiences, advocacy, connecting to
resources, community building, relationship building,
mentoring, building social connections, creative
and strengths-based activities
Indirect work
Planning and developing programs,
administration, staff training, communication
and supporting team, supervision, peer training,
awareness raising, research and evaluation
“Group
facilitation”
“Communication
skills”
“Lived experience work
as coach or mentor”
“Purposeful use
of experience”
“Demonstrated ability and
skills to overcome adversity”
“Linking to community”
“Think radically
but act diplomatically”
“Use of skills and knowledge
to benefit others”
“Working collaboratively:
we are all in this together”
“Appreciating
other’s world views”
“Your own personal recovery
is not the objective”
“Non-judgemental”
Skills
in the words of lived experience workers
6
Theories
Role Titles and Descriptions for the Development of the Mental Health Lived Experience Workforce
Just because lived experience work seems like common sense,
it doesn’t mean there’s no science to it.
Lived experience workers have identified working from
the following theories and approaches:
Training and qualifications
recommended by lived experience
workers
Certificate IV in Peer Work
The Certificate IV was viewed as consolidating and
providing a framework for recognising and valuing
existing knowledge as well as building knowledge.
As a specific and nationally recognised qualification,
it is viewed as giving lived experience work legitimacy.
Intentional Peer Support
Intentional Peer Support provides lived experience
workforce with a set of principles to guide practice.
Intentional Peer Support is values-driven and gives
a language to ‘peer work that makes sense and
recognises our humanity and diversity’.
Hearing voices
Training in hearing voices approaches gives additional
skills and increased capacity to work in alternative ways
that are increasingly being recognised and valued
in both clinical and community.
Connection to wider community
Although, not directly related to theory or training,
connection to the wider community is strongly recognised.
To remain sustainable, lived experience workers need
connections and networks with other lived experience
Workers and to remain focused and connected to the
wider community.
Core competencies and personal qualities in lived
experience work engages values, skills and an
underpinning philosophy, working together in harmony.
These core competencies articulate into clear statements
what is at the core of lived experience work and what
is fundamental to being able to work effectively.
recovery framework psychosocial
trauma-informed humanistic
strengths-based holistic perspectives
7
Theories
Role Titles and Descriptions for the Development of the Mental Health Lived Experience Workforce
Personal qualities and core competencies
in the words of lived experience workers
“Inspiring hope, overcoming adversity,
challenging, because you can see the potential of
others, focusing on a life beyond illness, connecting
with people from the place of shared experience,
and identifying the tools or strategies that the
person can use to move to a desired place.”
“The person has to have moved past their
experience that was challenging to an extent,
but be able to walk back and face that,
and still have an identification with that
experience. It is a sophisticated knowledge of self
and sits closely to capacity to empathise.”
“Someone who can weigh up a situation
and think critically. We want people who
have a good understanding of personal
recovery and the consumer movement and
to hold services accountable. Someone who
can identify undertones and not just say
‘yes’ to things. To stand strong in a clinical
environment. Also, diplomacy to know when
to stand up and where to hold back and
slowly chip away. You have to have fortitude
and patience. Change can take a long time
so you can’t make a revolution quickly.
It is small wins. It is about the individual
work and the difference you make and
contributions to individuals. Think radically
but can act diplomatically when needed.
Be strategic and be willing to stay for
the long haul and do the hard slog.”
“Willingness to learn and to learn from mistakes.
Have a go and learn but it is okay to get it wrong
and ‘fail’.”
“Empathy developed through life experiences and
life interruptions, managing emotions, navigating the
system and use of recovery story to support peers.”
“This position requires the utilisation of
personal knowledge and skills, gained
from overcoming the impacts of life
adversity to provide support and act as
a resource to clients in strengthening
their own recovery resources.”
“Capacity to build an empathetic relationship
based on a structure of support. Holding the
tension of I am here beside you and I am doing
this with you, but I am also employed to deliver
a service. There is a mutuality and yes,
I may benefit from being in this relationship
within this experience of working together
but primarily the other person is the focus.”
“One of the most important things is emotional maturity.
Social and emotional agility is important because you
have to adapt and handle the environment that you
are working with and build relationships. Also, being
reflective and know your personal boundaries and
regulate your own emotional reactions. Self management
is so important in an emotional environment.”
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Role Titles and Descriptions for the Development of the Mental Health Lived Experience Workforce
Lived experience direct support
A focus on individual and group work
Many entry-level lived experience positions in Queensland
have a focus on individual and group work. The capacity
to act as a role model was also identified. The mandatory
requirements were self-identification of personal lived
experience. For ‘carer’ peer work, position descriptions
specify a ‘significant length of time’ in the supporting
someone in their recovery was common.
Role titles
Position description
Summary of key criteria/core competencies
Lived experience/expert role: direct support
Descriptions from position descriptions
Provide recovery-orientated, ‘consumer’ and/or ‘carer’
focused peer support
Act as an advocate for consumers
Support consumers to make positive changes towards
recovery by identifying strengths
Serve as a positive role model
Well-developed communication, both verbal and written,
to work collaboratively across multidisciplinary teams
Provide general feedback and advice to team members
regarding consumer and/or carer participation,
education, support and recovery-oriented practice.
Work within appropriate boundaries and draw on
knowledge and expertise gained through reflection
on own lived experience.
Core attributes
Communication skills
Willingness and purposeful use of lived experience
Awareness of boundaries
Teamwork
Problem solving
Work autonomously
Use of initiative, tact and discretion
Qualifications
Certificate IV in Mental Health or Mental Health
Peer Work desirable.
Role titles and
formal position descriptions
These more formalised descriptions are summarised from existing position descriptions
for lived experience roles. They are divided into roles that primarily have a focus on direct support
and those that have greater emphasis on management and leadership. However, the overlap
between these roles is acknowledged and they may involve a combination of direct support and
management skills. A range of titles that are currently used by organisations to describe the roles
and specialisations within lived experience work is also provided.
Peer worker (mental health
peer worker; peer support
worker; peer recovery
worker; peer recovery
support worker; peer
rehabilitation worker)
Consumer peer
support worker
Carer peer support worker
Recovery worker
Recovery assistant
Peer mentor/
recovery mentor
Consumer rehabilitation
support worker
Wellbeing coach
Lived expertise coach
Peer artist
Lifestyle facilitator
Lived expertise
connection worker
Lived expertise
resource worker
Lived expertise
group facilitator
Specialisation
Specialisations occur in both direct support roles and
leadership roles and include roles specifically representing
perspectives and experiences of: Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander peoples, people from culturally and linguistically
diverse backgrounds, people identifying as LGBTQIA+, Maori,
Ministry of Pacific Peoples, child and youth, carer youth and
families, people with experiences of alcohol and other drug
use or dependence.
Additional specialisations may include people from the
Deaf community, people with experiences of family violence,
perinatal mental health, suicide, eating disorders, involuntary
treatment, incarceration, homelessness, people identifying
as neurodivergent, people with disability, veterans and other
diverse experiences.
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Role Titles and Descriptions for the Development of the Mental Health Lived Experience Workforce
Lived experience leader/manager
Emphasis on management/supervision/
wider system change
In existing position descriptions, senior/leadership roles
are given titles of director, consultant or coordinator.
Lived experience is also mandatory in these roles,
as is a demonstrated ability to use lived experience
to influence change.
Role titles
Director/Manager
Peer support supervisors/coordinators
Consumer consultants and carer consultants
Consumer services coordinator/carer services coordinator
Team leader
Service manager
Consumer participation coordinator
Lived experience practice specialist
Key duties
Development of the lived experience workforce
Supervision and mentoring
Business development
Education, training and research
Expert advice on policy, planning, evaluation, process
and strategic direction
Lived experience perspective to support decision making
Advocacy
Core attributes
Communication skills
Negotiation skills
Ability to influence
Ability to establish strategic partnerships
Knowledge of recovery and service systems
Knowledge of legislation
Skills in training, education, research
Qualifications
Some leadership positions stipulate qualifications
(from Certificate IV to postgraduate qualification).
Relevant previous experience always required.
Standards and guidelines
Organisational alignment to standards and guidelines
also referenced within position descriptions.
National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)
Guidelines for ethical conduct in Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander Research
NHMRC statement on consumer and community
involvement in health and medical research
National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards
National Standards for Mental Health Services
National Practice Standards for Mental Health Workforce
National Recovery Framework
Role titles and
formal position descriptions
10
Role Titles and Descriptions for the Development of the Mental Health Lived Experience Workforce
Certificate IV training
The Mental Health Service on the Gold Coast, walked the talk,
of supporting personal recovery when they agreed to contract
with a training organisation to deliver the Certificate IV
Mental Health Peer Work qualification for all members of
their Consumer, Carer and Family Participation Team who
were supported financially and in worktime to complete
this training. Additionally, the training was made available
to other peer workers, advocates, representatives and
interested persons with lived experience on the Gold Coast.
The Mental Health Service not only allowed their Consumer,
Carer and Family Participation Team members significant
scope in their roles to support other students, they also
fully funded a formal graduation ceremony for all students
and their families, friends and supporters.
Lived experience-led, lived experience
skill specific training
Listening Differently was developed by an experienced
lived experience trainer as a series of workshops across
a range of peer support topics. The program is embedded
in an intentional peer support framework, but also explores
micro-skills (paraphrasing; reframing; etc.); other related
approaches (e.g. Trauma-informed; compassion focused;
strengths-based etc.); and a range of topics that experience
has shown are currently training gaps for the community
and peer support workforce. This program seeks to maximise
access to quality training delivered by lived experience
trainers to build capacity for community members and peer
support workers (paid or unpaid).
Lived experience-led supervision
Brook RED believe that having a line manager who is also
working from a lived experience perspective is essential to
excellence in the lived experience work. Brook RED provide
independent external supervision to peers working for other
services. Brook RED with Brisbane North Primary Health
Network have created a community of practice through the
Peer Participation in Mental Health Network (PPIMS Network).
This network creates an opportunity for people in lived
experience identified roles to come together. This process
allows peer workers to engage in a process of learning,
discussion and co-supervision with support provided
by Brook RED. For their own practice, Brook RED believe
it’s important for staff to be able to access independent
supervision of their choice and Brook RED covers this
expense for their employees along with internal supervision
and support.
Lived Experience Network, Gold Coast
The Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service have developed
a Mental Health Peer Workforce Network. This network
supports people who use their lived experience of mental
health challenges, suicidality and/or substance use in paid
or voluntary roles. The network believes in personal recovery
and advocates for recovery-orientated, trauma-informed,
person-led services and inclusive communities across the
Gold Coast region. The network provides expert advice to
services and individuals regarding consumer and carer
engagement and peer workforce. This network was initiated
in 2012 and is supported by the Consumer, Carer and Family
Participation Team (Gold Coast Health) and the Gold Coast
Primary Health Network.
Role titles and
formal position descriptions
Examples of emerging best practice
Of organisations and individuals who have demonstrated commitment to the effective recruitment
and employment of lived experience workers through leadership, training and practice.
11
Role Titles and Descriptions for the Development of the Mental Health Lived Experience Workforce
Diverse representation opportunities
Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service believe that
supporting consumer and carer representatives means
more than just sourcing suitable and interested people
for the many engagement opportunities available in our
service. Recently, a consumer and carer representative
was sought to sit on a ‘user group’ to inform the
development of a detailed business case for a new secure
mental health rehabilitation unit. A plan was developed
to support the representatives in their roles by organising
a broad consumer and carer focus group to provide many
perspectives and feedback for the representatives to take
forward to the ongoing user group meetings. In addition,
the representatives were offered guided tours around two
similar established units in Queensland. The representatives
were fully remunerated for all time spent on these preparatory
activities.
Training to better understand lived
experiences (Artful Voices Program
with Aftercare)
A lived experience consultant was engaged as an
independent lived experience trainer and consultant to
work on the Artful Voices Program with Aftercare. The Artful
Voices Program is a creative program to educate and inform
peers, families, social/support networks, and mental health
clinicians from a lived experience perspective about what
works when hearing distressing voices. Aftercare has shown
commitment to this work over the past five years by actively
sourcing grants and funds to help create opportunities to
provide trainings and workshops on voice hearing. To further
support capacity building and training, a facilitation team of
peers and professionals were trained and received ongoing
mentoring to facilitate the program. Overall it is seen as
an innovative program that brings all the key stakeholders
together to learn from each other in a safe learning
environment.
For more examples of emerging best practice, strategies
and outcomes and details on preparing the workforce for
lived experience roles as well as supporting and sustaining
lived experience practice, please see the Queensland
Framework for the Development of the Mental Health
Lived Experience Workforce.
Role titles and
formal position descriptions
To view the full framework and support resources,
scan this QR code or download from the
Queensland Mental Health Commission’s website:
qmhc.qld.gov.au/engage-enable/lived-experience-led-
reform/peer-workforce
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