The NSW peer workforce provides direct care to people across public mental health services, including acute in-patient care and the community.
Peer workers draw upon their own personal lived experience of suicide, mental illness and recovery to provide authentic engagement and support for people accessing mental health care. Peer workers are in a unique position to build connections and rapport with people by inspiring hope and role modelling recovery.
Support includes individual and group peer support, recovery planning and goal setting, help with navigating the system, and individual and systemic advocacy.
NSW Health launched the Peer Supported Transfer of Care initiative (Peer-STOC) in 2017. Peer-STOC provides up to 6 weeks of support by experienced, qualified peer workers for people who are discharged from acute mental health care to successfully transition back into the community. These positions are based in community mental health teams and provide in-reach support to people prior to discharge.
NSW Health, in partnership with the Mental Health Coordinating Council (MHCC), are offering 100 scholarships for peer workers to complete a Certificate IV in Mental Health Peer Work.
The 12-month course provides peer workers with the skills and competencies to deliver quality services. It is a nationally recognised qualification designed for people with a lived experience of mental illness to support others on their recovery journey.
This year, the course is available online to support access for rural and regional peer workers and during COVID-19. The program is also open to people wanting to become peer workers. Scholarship recipients or their employers make a co-contribution of $500 towards the cost of the Certificate IV, and prior learning and experience may be recognised.
Experienced peer workers are also being supported to become qualified peer work trainers, with four scholarships to complete the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, and ongoing mentorship, available through the program.
Scholarships are now available for the Cert IV Mental Health Peer Work qualification through the MHCC website.
The Peer Work Hub is a free online resource that supports employers in NSW to build and strengthen their mental health peer workforce.
The development of a peer workforce in NSW is one of the recommendations in Living Well: A Strategic Plan for Mental Health in NSW: 2014-2024 Section 8.2, (Living Well). The Peer Work Hub has been created in response to the recommendations outlined in Living Well as an online resource for organisations wanting to develop and grow their peer workforce.
Visit the Peer Work Hub
The NSW Mental Health Commission has developed new video resources for the Peer Work Hub in 2020 to promote the mental health peer workforce to employers. The new videos capture the vision for peer work in NSW – as an essential part of every mental health and community service team. The videos are practical resources that address key questions and challenges that employers may have around building or growing their mental health peer workforce.
There are seven new videos that cover the following topics:
Suicide prevention peer workers use their lived experience of suicidality, suicide bereavement or caring for a person who is or has been suicidal.
Development of a suicide prevention peer workforce is a key component of the Towards Zero Suicides initiatives which address priorities in the Strategic Framework for Suicide Prevention in NSW 2018-2023 and contribute to the Premier's Priority to reduce the suicide rate by 20% by 2023.
Suicide prevention peer workers are involved in a number of Towards Zero Suicide initiatives. More information can be found on Towards Zero Suicides and Expanding Peer Support and Peer Led Programs.