From Service User to Service Leader

Tash first accessed Peninsula Health Mental Health Services as a consumer 11 years ago and has recently joined the Peninsula Health team as the new Lived Experience Workforce Manager.  

“My first interaction with Peninsula Health was during an emergency department presentation as a young person. It was a time of great emotional distress, and I was looking for professional help,” she said. 

Tash was linked-in with Community Mental Health Services and has since accessed several mental health supports from Peninsula Health, including our Acute Adult Inpatient Unit at Frankston Hospital.

“Being a consumer of Peninsula Health services over several years makes me an excellent candidate for the Lived Experience Workforce Manager role. I am bringing my first-hand experiences of accessing mental health services and can provide vital feedback on what is working well and what might need improvement”.

While working on her recovery, Tash was also simultaneously studying and working in Community Mental Health Services to support others experiencing mental health challenges. 

“Part of my recovery journey included finding meaningful employment. I had worked in various jobs before but didn’t truly feel enjoyment in my work until I started working within the mental health sector as a peer worker,” she said.

A consumer peer worker is someone with a personal experience of mental health challenges or distress who is employed by an organisation to provide non-clinical support to people accessing services. Peer workers can also be family members and carers of people accessing mental health services that work alongside other family members and carers on their caring journey. Peer workers are empathetic listeners who promote hope, choice and connection in their relationships with others.

Peninsula Health Clinical Director Mental Health Service Kerryn Rubin said “people with a lived experience of needing or utilising our services have a unique perspective that is essential to the planning, design, and provision of high-quality, person-centred services that are respectful, appropriate, and meet the needs of our community.”

 “We are currently transforming our mental health services in line with the recommendations from the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System. We know that it’s time for change and to see lived experience expertise being key to that change,” he said.

Peninsula Health currently operates a Mental Health Community Advisory Group (CAG) where consumers, family members, carers and supporters attend monthly meetings to provide feedback and direction to the mental health program. The Community Advisory Group has been running online during the covid-19 pandemic.

“The Mental Health CAG has been running for several years, but we recognise not everyone can commit to monthly meetings while they are on their recovery or caring journey. We have introduced an alternative option where people can participate in once-off or short-term activities and events through our Lived/Living Experience Engagement Register,” said Tash.

The Lived/Living Experience Engagement Register is a way for consumers, family members, carers and supporters to ‘opt in’ to short- or medium-term engagement opportunities within Peninsula Health. Many of the opportunities provided, such as online surveys or face-to-face focus groups, will be paid. 

“Paying participants for their time is an important way that we recognise the vital feedback and expertise our Mental Health Program service users provide”.

Whether you are interest in a lived experience career, joining our community advisory group or participating in short term engagement activities, we would love to hear from you. For further information please contact the Lived/Living Experience Service on or 0466 022 420.

Please note: All lived/living experience workforce positions are advertised on our Peninsula Health eRecuit system. Please join here to be notified of vacancies.