26 July 2022
Mind Australia peer cadet Amy Falconer says her cadetship has reaffirmed her desire to become a mental health peer worker.
The 22-year-old is three months into the Lived Experience Peer Cadet Program funded by the Victorian government.
The program is an employment opportunity for people with lived experience of mental health and wellbeing concerns who are undertaking the Certificate IV in Mental Health Peer Work.
Peer cadets enter paid employment across one of six participating community mental health services in Victoria – including Mind - and develop knowledge, skills, and confidence in a structured and supported environment, while receiving supervision, training and reflective practice opportunities that are discipline specific.
“It’s kind of like an apprenticeship for people studying peer work looking to get involved in the sector,” Amy explained.
“We are still in training at the moment but I’m really enjoying it so far; it has pushed me out of my comfort zone and forced me to look inwards. I’ve done a lot of work on my recovery, but the peer work modules have helped me put myself at the centre a bit more and think actively about self-care and staying safe. It’s nice to give my pain a purpose.”
Amy is one of five people taking part in the Peer Cadet program at Mind. So far Amy’s training has included modules on workplace health and safety, working with people who self-harm, working with people who have early-stage psychosis and peer work.
Once Amy and the other peer cadets have finished their training block they will gain a hands-on experience working two days per work at a selected Mind service.
Mind Australia 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 Lived Experience 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, like Amy, across all service models, as well as employing staff in designated lived experience roles in other key departments.
“We are proud to support this initiative and we commend the Victorian government for backing the growth of the lived experience workforce.”
Katie Larsen, Mind’s Senior Manager Inclusion and Participation, brings a lived experience of mental ill-health to Mind, including leading Mind’s Lived Experience Strategy 2021-2024 development.
Katie said Mind has created genuine opportunities to reframe lived experience as strength, knowledge and insight.
“Mind has a long history of delivering lived experience approaches but we saw an opportunity to do more, to really centre our organisation strategy around lived experience and commit to drive and shift change.
“As of July 2021, Mind has more than 100 lived experience roles - more than ten per cent of our workforce.
“Most are consumer peer roles (peer practitioners) but we also have specialised and designated lived experience roles relating to carer and family, participation, peer research, training and systemic change.
We also have more than 20 family and carer engagement and practice roles. Fifty per cent of Mind staff have a personal lived experience of mental ill-health or distress and nearly twenty per cent of staff identify as being a carer.”
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 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.
If you would like more information, please contact us via Mind Connect or phone: 1300 286 463