Role Titles and Descriptions for the Development of the Mental Health Lived Experience Workforce
Companion document to the Queensland Framework for the Development of the Mental Health Lived Experience Workforce. Designed to support the development of lived experience roles that are meaningful, authentic and reflect lived experience values.
Roennfeldt, H., Byrne, L., Wang, Y., Chapman, M., Darwin, L. Role Titles and Descriptions for the Development
of the Mental Health Lived Experience Workforce. 2019, Queensland Government: Brisbane.
Lived Experience workers apply an understanding of marginalisation, loss of identity and citizenship in their work to benefit others and contribute to system change
Position descriptions can help to ensure role clarity and uniqueness of Lived Experience roles
Lived Experience roles span across direct support to specialist and leadership positions
Common principles of Lived Experience work include the capacity to covey hope, a personal identification with mental health experience and willingness to share experience
Position descriptions include values, skills and theories underpinning Lived Experience work. These are described as personal qualities and core competencies for the role.
Take home messages
Developing and Maintaining the Uniqueness of Lived Experience Roles
This document assists in writing position descriptions that ensure the clarity and the uniqueness of lived experience roles are upheld. Position Descriptions are important as they can support the uniqueness of Lived Experience roles by reflecting the distinction between Lived Experience work vs. the work of non-designated roles.
Lived Experience work is about how experiences of marginalisation, loss of identity and citizenship are understood and applied to benefit others and contribute to system change. These roles exist across direct support and entry-level positions to specialist roles and leadership positions.
Lived Experience workers identified the following principles that were common across all these roles:
Capacity to convey hope
Personal identification with experiences of a mental health challenge
Willingness to share experiences
Lived Experience roles include advocacy and identification as a change agent – that is, having the ability to challenge harmful practices and contribute more effective mental health service delivery.
Values, Skills and Theory
Position descriptions list key criteria, core competencies and adherence to frameworks of practice. Position descriptions can also be broken down into into values, skills and underpinning theories in Lived Experience Work.
Organisational values are reflected in an organisations mission statement and the position descriptions of employees should reflect the value of Lived Experience work.
Below are the values underpinning Lived Experience practice.
Capacity to be Vulnerable
Authenticity and Personal Investment
Lived Experience work requires diverse skills across a variety of areas and roles. These roles include direct work and indirect work. Importantly, the processes of Lived Experience work are emphasised as “not so much what you do, but how you do it’.
Individual support and facilitating groups, sharing experiences, advocacy, connecting to resources, community building, relationship building, mentoring, building social connections, creative and strengths-based activities.
Planning and developing programs, administration, staff training, communication, supervision, peer training, promotion, research and evaluation
Skills associated with Lived Experience work:
Working with Groups
Coaching or Mentoring
Purposeful Use of Experience
Strategies to Overcome Adversity
Think Radically but Act Diplomatically
Linking to Community
Appreciating Other's World Views
Lived experience workers have identified working from the following theories and approaches:
Training recommended by Lived Experience Workers include Intentional Peer Support, Trauma Informed practice and Hearing Voices training. Connection to the wider community and Lived Experience networks are also important to ensure sustainability of the workforce.
Personal Qualities and Core Competencies
Core competencies and personal qualities reflect values, skills and underpinning theories.
Core competencies are described in clear statements and reflect what is fundamental to effective Lived Experience work.
Use the box below to see some of the personal qualities and core competencies of Lived Experience work in the words of Lived Experience workers.
“Someone who can weigh up a situation and think critically. We want people who have a good understanding of personal recovery and the consumer movement and to hold services accountable. Someone who can identify undertones and not just say ‘yes’ to things. To stand strong in a clinical environment. Also, diplomacy to know when to stand up and where to hold back and slowly chip away. You have to have fortitude and patience. Change can take a long time so you can’t make a revolution quickly. It is small wins. It is about the individual work and the difference you make and contributions to individuals. Think radically but can act diplomatically when needed. Be strategic and be willing to stay for the long haul and do the hard slog.”
Shared Skills and Specialisations
There is overlap between Direct Support and Indirect Support Roles, where both may require some direct support and management skills.
Specialisations can occur in both direct and indirect support roles and may include working from the perspectives of:
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
People from the Deaf Community
People from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Backgrounds
People Identifying as LGBTQIA+
Perinatal Mental Health
People with Experiences of Family Violence
People from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Backgrounds
Child and Youth (or Carer Youth and Families)
People with Experience of Drug & Alcohol Use or Dependence
People Identifying as Neurodivergent
People with a Disability
Other Diverse Experiences
Direct Support Example Role Titles and Position Description
Peer Worker (also Consumer Peer Worker etc...)
Family and Carer Peer Support Worker
Peer Mentor (and Recovery Mentor)
Consumer Rehabilitation Support Worker
Wellbeing (and Lived Expertise) Coach
Lived Expertise Group Facilitator
Recovery Worker (and Assistant)
Provide recovery-orientated, ‘consumer’ and/or ‘carer’ focused peer support
Advocate for consumers
Support consumers to make positive changes towards recovery by identifying strengths
Serve as a positive role model
Well-developed communication, both verbal and written, to work collaboratively across multidisciplinary teams
Provide feedback and advice to multidisciplinary team members regarding consumer and/or carer participation
Provide education and guidance on recovery-oriented practice.
Work within appropriate boundaries and draw on knowledge and expertise gained through reflection on own lived experience.
Willingness and purposeful use of lived experience
Awareness of boundaries
Use of initiative, tact and discretion
Certificate IV in Mental Health or Mental Health Peer Work (Desirable)
Indirect Support Role: Example Role Titles and Position Description
Director (and Manager)
Peer Support Supervisors (and Coordinators)
Carer (and Consumer) Consultant
Carer (and Consumer) Coordinator
Consumer Participation Coordinator
Lived Experience (Consumer) Academic
Advocacy and development of the Lived Experience workforce
Supervision and mentoring
Education, training and research
Expert advice on policy, planning, evaluation, process
and strategic direction
Lived experience perspective to support decision making
Ability to influence
Ability to establish strategic partnerships
Knowledge of recovery and service systems
Knowledge of legislation
Skills in training, education and research
Ranges from Certificate IV to postgraduate qualifications
Relevant previous experience