Mind Australia will lead the development of an innovative new residential mental health recovery support service in Victoria in which people with lived experience will play a central role. 

Mental Health Minister Gabrielle Williams has announced the government’s plan to open Victoria’s first Lived Experience Residential Service.  

The Victorian government will invest $5 million across four years to design and develop the service, to provide people with a lived experience-led alternative to acute inpatient care.  

The service will be developed by Mind Australia in partnership with Alfred Mental Health and Addiction Health. Mind is one of the largest providers of community-managed psychosocial services in Australia. Mind’s approach to peer work draws from the extensive evidence base for lived experience approaches to mental health service design and delivery. 

The new service will offer clients short-term treatment, care and recovery focused support from peer practitioners, along with developing new approaches to lived experience leadership and governance. Mind will work closely with lived experience leaders in Victoria to support the development of the service. 

Peer practitioners are trained mental health professionals who draw on their own lived experience of mental ill-health in supporting and inspiring clients in their mental health recovery.  

The Minister said this Victorian-first, peer-led mental health service will provide consumers with a genuine alternative to hospital-based care, ensuring every person receives the care they deserve. 

“The Royal Commission told us to listen to those who know our system best. Victorians with lived experience offer a unique and personal insight and we’re ensuring their voices are at the heart of new programs and initiatives,” the Minister said.

Mind CEO Gill Callister said the Victorian government is to be commended for investing in this much needed alternative to hospitalisation for people with mental health and wellbeing concerns. 

“Mind feels very privileged to be leading this signature reform of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, in partnership with Alfred Mental Health and Addiction Health,” Ms Callister said. 

“The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System has shown very clearly that community based mental health and wellbeing supports like this have a crucial role to play in helping people achieve recovery and reducing the burden on hospital Emergency Departments.” 

“This service will provide a more tailored support for people to achieve sustained long term recovery.” 

Ms Callister said the organisation has set a target for 20 per cent of its total workforce to be peer practitioners by 2024 and is already ahead of schedule to meet this target. 

“At Mind we firmly believe in the value and expertise of those with lived experience of mental ill-health and recovery to foster the recovery of others,” Ms Callister said. 

 “We are looking forward to partnering with Alfred Mental Health and Addiction Health for residents of this service to get the holistic wrap around support they need to recover and live fulfilling and independent lives in the community.” 

Mind’s Senior Manager for Inclusion and Participation Katie Larsen, who brings a personal lived experience of mental ill-health to her role, said Mind has a long history of delivering lived experience led approaches to mental health support.  

“Peer practitioners with lived experience have a unique ability to gain the trust of clients and inspire the confidence needed to take positive steps in their mental health recovery journey. Their practice draws from evidence on the unique role of lived experience in services – enabling innovative approaches to support and care” Ms Larsen said. 

Mind peer practitioner Cassi Strauss said clients can share more with her because they know she has her own history of mental health challenges. 

“They tell me they feel understood and they don’t feel judged… They’re also more willing to take on my suggestions - because I’ve been in their shoes and they’ve worked for me, they are more willing to try them,” Ms Strauss said. 

Psychosocial supports – like the kind provided by Mind Australia – help people with mental health and wellbeing issues manage daily activities, rebuild and maintain connections, engage with education and employment, and participate fully in the community. These are supports which help people take positive steps in their recovery journey. 

If you would like more information about Mind services, please contact us via Mind Connect or by phone: 1300 286 463. 

If this article raises concerns for you, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14. Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islanders can also call 13 YARN (13 92 76) a 24/7 national crisis support telephone service staffed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.