Best practices in using and supporting lived experience in your organisation
The safe and effective use of lived experience expertise is a game-changer for service delivery in the community sector. Workers with first-hand lived experience of marginalisation and navigating the service system can learn to share knowledge, insights and personal reflections to build connection and inclusion for participants and communities. Evidence has shown that lived experience workers can bridge the gaps between services and communities, influencing the culture and practices of their organisations.
Forward thinking organisations understand the value and untapped potential of customer expertise by embedding lived experience throughout its workforce. Since 2012, Social Futures has been at the forefront of innovation and good practice, first developing the Lived Experience Project supported people with lived experience of mental illness and recovery to obtain qualifications in peer/mental health/community services work, gain work experience, and make the transition into employment as peer workers in mental health and community workplace settings.
In 2014 six Peer Linkers were employed by Social Futures as part of the Ability Links team on the Far North Coast – the only provider in NSW to do so. In 2016 we developed the Lived Experience Support Framework as a best practice guide for building and supporting a lived experience workforce in Ability Links. Since 2017 we have also developed and run an evidence-based training package for workers and managers at many service providers across the state.
According to Peer Linker and Ability Links Lived Experience Project Officer Damien Becker, it is critical that organisations and teams proactively value lived experience expertise in their workforce. “For far too long, workers have kept valuable insights hidden for fear of stigma and discrimination. Organisations who value lived experience expertise as a professional asset can recruit and develop their workforce and deliver services in entirely new ways.”
Lived Experience Expertise training
The Lived Experience Expertise training is one of the first of its kind in the world. It has been tailored for specific skills and learnings for workers with a range of lived experience, their colleagues and their managers and human resources staff. Topics covered across the three different sessions include:
- History, philosophies, principles and ethics of peer work
- Benefits and challenges of using lived experience expertise with participants, families, workers, organisations and in community
- Creating a strong team approach to utilising lived experience
- Models and frameworks for sharing your experiences safely and with purpose
Attendees get to learn alongside other workers using their lived experience. This sense of sharing ideas and reflecting with your peers is crucial to developing skills and a sense of safety in your role, according to Gary-Shallala Hudson, Peer Linker and co-facilitator of the training. “Peers need tribe,” he says.
As well as building knowledge and understanding of the unique value and potential of peers, attendees explore how best-practice structures and team approaches can be applied in their organisation. Effective governance, specialised training and support frameworks for using lived experience are critical requirements of safe service models.
This training is an initiative of the Ability Links Lived Experience (ALLE) Project managed by Social Futures with support from the North West Alliance and NSW Government.
If you are interested in this training in the future, contact Training Coordinator, Helen Lassen with your EOI. Tel: 0439137207 email: [email protected]