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Consumer Workers' Forum Project - Stage 1

The Consumer Workers' Forum (CWF) identified the need for research to be carried out into the consumer workforce in public mental health services in NSW, to ensure the continuous quality and improvement of consumer workers in NSW. Through the support and funding of NSW Health, Stage 1 of the CWF Project was formed, with the commencement of an interim literature review, followed by a statewide questionnaire of current consumer workers and Area Health Service (AHS) Executives regarding the current consumer workforce. This process revealed the current situation of the consumer workforce and identified what work needed to be done to improve the system.

The aim of the first stage of the project was to examine the functioning and other aspects of the consumer workforce in NSW Area Mental Health Services and to make recommendations concerning standardised work practices.

The following specific aspects of the consumer workforce in the public mental health sector were investigated:

  1. Functions
  2. Employment conditions
  3. Training
  4. Supervision
  5. Job descriptions/ Statement of duties
  6. Code of Conduct
  7. Recruitment

Stage 1 identified the following:

  • The staff establishment (i.e. number of paid employment positions) of consumer workers is inconsistent across NSW AHSs
  • There is a lack of consistency across the state with regard to the tasks and duties performed by consumer workers
  • Job roles are diverse and ill defined. There is no consensus about role definition: it is unclear whether consumer workers possess the skills/training required to perform the diverse tasks and duties documented in position descriptions
  • There is an absence of a standardized training program for consumer workers

It was through the recommendations made in the CWF Project Stage 1, that Stage 2 of the Project was developed.

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