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Mental Health Peer Work Development and Promotion


The need to develop a national professional peer workforce and encourage support structures and professional development for the peer workforce is a key priority for the Commission. Mental Health Peer Work has been an area of focus for the National Mental Health Commission since our establishment in 2012. The development and promotion of the mental health peer workforce has been recommended as part of our 2012 and 2013 National Report Cards and the 2014 Contributing Lives, Thriving Communities report.

Fifth Plan National Peer Workforce Development Guidelines 

Under the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan (Fifth Plan), the Commission is leading the development of Peer Workforce Development Guidelines by 2021.

This project will help support the peer workforce through providing formalised guidance for governments, employers and the peer workforce about support structures required to sustain and grow the workforce. Although local and regional peer workforce frameworks exist, the development of national guidelines will ensure consistency across Australia. National guidelines will also be a step towards professionalisation of the peer workforce.

On 30 November 2018, peer workforce leaders met for an initial discussion around the potential scope of the guidelines and prominent themes that could be explored. Further information on the areas explored at the Roundtable can be found in our communique, agenda, background paper, presentation and notes from the event.

To register your interest for the project and to stay up to date, please join our interest register here.

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National Peer Workforce Development Guidelines Steering Committee

The National Mental Health Commission has now finalised the membership of the Steering Committee to oversee the Commission’s work to develop the National Peer Workforce Development Guidelines under Action 29 of the Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan Implementation Plan.

Following an extensive expression of interest process, we received a high number of quality applications from individuals, peaks and other organisations. An independent panel, which included independent consumer and carer peer workers, met to assess the applications. The following individuals have been selected to sit on the Steering Committee:

  • Maureen Lewis (NMHC Deputy CEO; Chair)
  • Margaret Doherty (Carer Peer Worker; Deputy Co-Chair)
  • Tim Heffernan (Consumer Peer Worker; Deputy Co-Chair)
  • Darren Jiggins
  • Emma Cadogan
  • Heather Nowak
  • Jessica English
  • Max Simensen
  • Megan Still
  • Ruth O’Sullivan
  • Sandi Taylor
  • Susan Adam

These members bring representation from across the mental health sector and across jurisdictions, including a majority of the committee being peer workers with experience across public, private and community-managed sectors. Membership comprises five consumer peer workers and three carer peer workers as well as one representative from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community who identifies as a carer. Three members bring an organisational perspective from a non-peer background and have experience developing the peer workforce. The Steering Committee also has representation from the LGBTIQ+ community, a number of young peer workers and people from rural and remote regions.

The Commission is delighted to have a range of skills and diverse experiences on the Steering Committee to help govern this important project.

Engagement and participation pathways for input into the project will be available as the work progresses. We acknowledge there is already a considerable amount of work being undertaken regarding the peer workforce. In conjunction with the Steering Committee, we will ensure a targeted engagement strategy is in place to capture and build on this work. This will include engagement with peer workers, consumer and carer peaks, sector peaks, professional bodies, as well as members of the public.

Towards Professionalisation: A study into the feasibility of a national peer workforce organisation 

The National Mental Health Commission has funded a feasibility study into the establishment of a member based organisation for the peer workforce in Australia.

Conducted by the Private Mental Health Consumer Carer Network (PMHCCN) Australia, the feasibility study examines the potential models for a national peer workforce organisation and its possible role in supporting the peer workforce.

The PMHCCN project involved:

  • Undertaking an Australian and international literature review
  • Scoping for a better understanding of the peer workforce
  • Conducting workshops in all Australian capital cities and engaging with peer workers in regional and rural Australia
  • Collaborating and communicating with other organisations engaged in supporting peer workers
  • Developing a model for a National Peer Organisation
  • Having a booth at the 2017 and 2018 TheMHS Conferences
  • Supporting the development of educational material focused on employers of peer workers

The literature review identified current best practice in relation to the peer workforce in Australia and internationally, including methods to best support the workforce.

Towards Professionalisation: Exploration of best practice models in mental health peer work to inform the establishment of a national professional organisation 

More information on the project can be accessed on the PMHCCN website. 

The PMHCCN submitted the final report for the feasibility study in January 2019. The Commission is now considering the report and potential next steps in the establishment of a national professional peer work organisation.

Certificate IV in Mental Health Peer Work

In 2013 the Commission funded the development of training resources for a nationally recognised qualification for peer workers, the Certificate IV in Mental Health Peer Work. The project was coordinated by the Mental Health Coordinating Council on behalf of Community Mental Health Australia. The materials underwent a rigorous pilot and are now available below.

To fast track the delivery of the new qualification at a consistent, high standard, 30 Champions in Peer Work were selected to undertake a recognition programme to qualify as trainers and assessors of the qualification. All 30 Champions gained qualifications by June 2015.

In August 2015 the Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council determined a new version of the qualification; now the Cert IV in Mental Health Peer work CHC43515. This has meant changes to training and assessment requirements across a number of units of competence which comprise the qualification. The resources available on this webpage cater to the previous version of the training and have not been updated to the new requirements.

Registered Training Organisations are welcome to use and update the materials to support their delivery of the Certificate IV in Mental Health Peer Work.

Certificate IV in Mental Health Peer Work Training Resource Materials

Note: these materials were developed for course number CHC42912 which has been superseded by course number CHC43515. Organisations wishing to deliver the CHC43515 course are welcome to update the materials below to support their delivery of the course. 



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