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    Consumer Workers' Project

Mental health consumer workers are people with the lived experience of mental illness, employed (either paid or volunteer) in consumer designated roles within mental health services - public, non-government and private. Consumer workers are employed to provide various services, such as peer support, education, representation and individual and systemic advocacy for mental health consumers.

The establishment of the consumer workforce in NSW has resulted in many challenges that need to be addressed to ensure an effective and sustainable consumer workforce. These challenges include:

  • Role conflict and confusion
  • Job titles that often do not reflect the work performed by the mental health consumer workforce
  • Dual relationships and boundary issues
  • Concerns regarding the inadequacy of remuneration of their work
  • Inconsistent support and supervision structures
  • Limited access to education and training for professional development.

For more information on the consumer workforce, a literature review has been produced detailing the history of the consumer workforce, the barriers and challenges that face the consumer workforce and the benefits of the consumer workforce. The literature review can be found here.

Consumer Workers' Project

NSWCAG, contracted by the NSW Health Mental Health Consumer Workers Committee (MH CWC) through the Sydney West Local Health District, is currently conducting the Consumer Workers' Project (CWP) with the support of NSW Health.

The aim of the CWP is to develop a Framework for mental health consumer workers in NSW mental health services that will be endorsed by the NSW Mental Health Program Council. The project aims to produce the following outcomes:

  • A fully articulated framework for consumer workers in NSW ratified by the NSW Mental Health Program Council for implementation that includes:
    • Clearly defined roles, functions, responsibilities and titles
    • Position descriptions for remunerated roles
    • Clarification of remuneration award
    • Minimum standards for supervision, support and professional development for consumer workers
    • Evaluation framework for consumer worker roles
    • Minimum level of training and education for consumer worker remunerated roles
  • Report on best practice for delivery of consumer worker training, including professional development
  • A Code of Professional Standards for consumer workers ratified by the NSW Health Mental Health Program Council for implementation in NSW

The CWP has to date conducted many consultations with key stakeholders across NSW and from this produced The Final Consultation Paper Draft Framework for the NSW Health Consumer Workforce.

The Draft Framework for the NSW Mental Health Consumer Workforce

The Framework for the NSW Mental Health Consumer Workforce, "the Framework", is designed to guide workforce development for consumer workers within public mental health services in NSW, through providing a consistent, statewide approach and promoting the professionalism of the consumer workforce, and its standing as a legitimate and defined workforce. To do this, the Framework has four components:

  1. The Job
  2. Support and Development
  3. The System
  4. The Profession

Each of these components articulates the critical aspects which are required to ensure a clearly defined and sustainable workforce.

CWF Framework


The Framework presents the consumer workforce as an integral component of the NSW public mental health system, at all levels of the system. While one aim of the Framework is to bring a consistent, statewide approach to the consumer workforce in NSW, the Framework is also designed to be flexible to specific local needs.   

Click  here  to view  The Final Consultation Paper Draft Framework for the NSW Health Consumer Workforce (NSWCAG, 2011)
The Framework is detailed between pages 6 and 52, with the remaining pages containing the Appendices. 

Click here for the latest agenda for the Consumer Workers' Committee. 

Watch this space for further developments on the Framework for the NSW Consumer Workforce in NSW.

Referencing the Draft Framework

The Final Consultation Paper Draft Framework for the NSW Health Consumer Workforce has been developed over 2 years of research and consultation with all relevant stakeholders and in particular with consumer workers.  Due to the importance of input from local and relevant stakeholders in the development of this Framework, NSWCAG strongly recommends that other jurisdictions duplicate similar consultation process to develop a Framework owned and relevant to their jurisdiction rather than duplicate this document.

If you would like to reference this document please do so in the following way: 

The Final Consultation Paper Draft Framework for the NSW Health Consumer Workforce (NSW Consumer Advisory Group - Mental Health Inc. 2011)

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