Why not a peer worker?

Fay Jackson (Flourish Australia, Sydney, Australia)
Tim Fong (Flourish Australia, Sydney, Australia)

Mental Health and Social Inclusion

ISSN: 2042-8308

Publication date: 12 June 2017



The purpose of this paper is to provide a perspective on peer work and insights from Flourish Australia’s journey in growing a thriving peer workforce. Flourish Australia is a large not-for-profit organisation that has been supporting people with their recovery journeys for over 60 years. The organisation provides, predominantly, non-clinical community-based support to enable people who live with a mental health issue and/or psychosocial disabilities to lead contributing lives in their community.


Flourish Australia developed and implemented a number of strategic directives in order to support the growth of a peer workforce. Central to these directives were policy positions that encouraged a shared understanding of the value and contribution that people with a lived experience of a mental health issue add to an organisation. From this policy foundation, the Why Not a Peer Worker? strategy and Transformation Peer Worker strategy were implemented and embraced by hiring managers across the organisation.


The “Why Not a Peer Worker?” campaign, coupled with the Transformation Peer Worker strategy, resulted in an increase in Flourish Australia’s peer workforce of almost 600 per cent over an 18-month period to now number 145 positions.

Research limitations/implications

This paper provides organisations who are seeking to develop or grow their peer workforce with practical ideas that have been successfully implemented by Flourish Australia that can be discussed and debated when developing a peer workforce.


This paper provides unique insights into Flourish Australia’s peer workforce journey.



Jackson, F. and Fong, T. (2017), "Why not a peer worker?", Mental Health and Social Inclusion, Vol. 21 No. 3, pp. 176-183. https://doi.org/10.1108/MHSI-03-2017-0018



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