top of page

QLEWN adopts the definitions of Lived Experience and the Lived Experience workforce included in the Queensland Framework for the Development of the Lived Experience Workforce 

Lived Experience

Lived Experience includes past and ongoing experiences of life changing mental health challenge/distress, suicidal distress, and substance use concerns; it spans our successes, service use, and periods of healing and learning.  QLEWN recognises that Lived Experience includes experiences as either a consumer and/or as a carer/family member. We acknowledge that these experiences are distinctly different and inform different perspectives and priorities that can conflict.

Consumer – a person who has experiences of extreme psychological distress; suicidal thoughts and/or attempts; and/or substance use concerns.


Carer/Family member - a person who has regularly provides or has provided unpaid, care or support, for a person living with episodes of extreme psychological distress; who has considered, attempted or completed suicide; and/or who experiences substance use concerns.

The Lived Experience workforce

Identified roles are formal roles (paid or unpaid) that specifically require Lived Experience as an essential requirement for the role. Roles may include offering peer support to others; advocating Lived Experience perspectives on committees and boards; participating in service development and/or policy development; and/or as managers, advocates, educators or researchers.

The Lived Experience workforce includes people working in diverse roles across a variety of settings including private practice, public or private hospital and allied health services, community based support services (mainstream or peer operated), education and research institutions, and government agencies at a local, state and national levels.

Identified Lived Experience roles may also include unpaid roles if Lived Experience is required to fill a structured role that is formalised within an organisation or group. For example, Lived Experience representatives on hospital committees are often unpaid. Some peer support groups are entirely operated by volunteers, but are formally structured (eg GROW or AA). These unpaid roles are recognised by QLEWN as identified Lived Experience roles.

Formal and Informal Peer Support

Peer support roles are the most commonly identified Lived Experience roles. The National Mental Health Recovery Framework defines peer support as people with a Lived Experience supporting each other in their recovery journey. Peer support may be formal (voluntary or paid) or informal and unstructured. Formal peer support may be stand-alone or part of a broader initiative, program, project or service. Peer support programs and services may be totally managed by people in identified Lived Experience roles, by people in non-identified roles, or some combination of both.

People who provide informal peer support to family and friends contribute greatly to improving the wellbeing of people struggling with extreme distress and it is from this foundation of informal peer support that more formal practices and approaches have been developed. However, there are significant differences between informal and formal peer support.

QLEWN seeks to focus specifically on the needs and interests of the Lived Experience workforce. For this reason informal, unstructured peer support between family friends is not included in QLEWN’s definition of an identified Lived Experience role. 


Non-identified roles

Non-identified roles in mental health, alcohol and other drugs services, allied health or other relevant professions include psychiatrists, psychologists, mental health nurses, social workers, occupational therapists, case managers, case workers, community support workers and others. People working in these roles may still identify privately or publically as having a Lived Experience, but they are not employed specifically to work from a Lived Experienced perspective. As such, people with Lived Experience working in non-identified roles are not recognised by QLEWN as members of the Lived Experience workforce.

However, often people working in non-identified roles (whether or not they have a Lived Experience) can be important champions and allies in supporting the Lived Experience workforce. QLEWN encourages such allies and champions to join us as associate members.

Useful Links

bottom of page