30 March 2023

Four Mind Australia peer cadets with lived and living experience of mental ill-health are among the first graduates of the Victorian government’s Peer Cadet Program. 

The program provides paid employment opportunities for people with lived experience so they can develop knowledge, skills, and confidence in a structured and supported environment while receiving supervision, training and reflective practice opportunities. 

Mind is one of six community service organisations taking part in the program. The program provides valuable learning opportunities in service settings for 24 students studying their Certificate IV in Mental Health Peer Work. 

Mind peer cadets Amy Falconer, Clara Chapman, Millie Snelling and Jess Kearns were among the first round of graduates, who were recently acknowledged at a ceremony hosted by the Victorian Department of Health and Minister for Mental Health Gabrielle Williams.  

Clara said the cadetship helped her make the transition from the classroom into practical service delivery. 

“The Peer Cadet Program was so valuable and just the stepping stone that I needed to get hands on experience to further work on my skills and confidence,” she said. 

“Without the support of Mind and the cadetship I would still be uncertain where I want go in my life, but I now know that this is the field for me. 

“Working within The Haven Foundation residences and the Participation Team has given me unique skills that I can use to better utilise my lived experience and inspire hope in others that are struggling.” 

Mind CEO Gill Callister said Mind has a long history of delivering lived experience approaches to mental health care and is proud to be supporting the Peer Cadet Program. 

“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 committed to employing and developing peer practitioners across all service models, as well as employing staff in designated lived experience roles in other key departments. 

“On behalf of Mind, I congratulate Amy, Clara, Millie, Jess and all of the graduates from this Victorian government initiative that helps further develop the lived experience workforce.” 

The next round of the program – the 2023 Peer Cadet Program - will support nine organisations – including Mind – to host 45 individuals to become peer cadets across community services. Information on how to apply for the Peer Cadet Program will be released soon. Follow Mind on social media for notifications or subscribe to our monthly e-magazine Mind View to stay up to date. 

If this article raises concerns for you, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14. Aboriginal and Torres Strait 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.