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Peer Leads pave the way for our Lived Experience workforce.

Ruah Peer Leads, Leanne Lanciano and Rick Dean, are paving the way for Lived Experienced (Peer) workers to build a career from advocacy to leadership.

Lived Experience (Peer) workers are ‘agents of change’, drawing on their first-hand experience to inspire, build resilience and empower vulnerable people struggling with mental health and other challenges.

Ruah has championed Peers for decades, integrating Lived Experience Peer workers as part of the team since 2003.

In 2019, Ruah took bold strides and dared to innovate by taking its commitment to Lived Experience to the next level with the creation of the Ruah Peer Framework. The framework complements the National Guidelines for the Lived Experience (Peer) Workforce, integrates peer-specific roles throughout Ruah and creates Peer career pathways, including leadership roles.

Ruah recognises that it is our responsibility to be an ally and create a more equitable future for our Peer workforce. To that end we have taken bold strides and created Lived Experience (Peer) career pathways that aim to capacity -build Peer leaders while ensuing best practice.

As Peer Leads, Leanne and Rick are the pillars of support to our Peer workforce providing invaluable guidance and mentorship.

Peers were a powerful support to Rick when he was going through tough times with his mental health. The authenticity, genuine care and shared experience his Peer Support worker provided gave Rick the hope and direction to rebuild his life.

A full circle moment, Rick now pays forward the support he once received, and as a Peer worker himself, now helps others going through similar mental challenges.

“Ruah saw something in me that I didn’t see. I went from a client receiving support, to working with Ruah as a Peer worker, to now taking up the Peer Lead role.”

Leanne also struggled with mental health issues since she was a young adult. As a nurse, she was often providing care to people with mental health challenges similar to her own.  Realising she could use her lived experience to support and inspire others on their recovery journeys, Leanne pursued a career in Peer work.

“When I was faced with mental health challenges, I wasn’t aware of, or have even heard of, Peer workers. I believe it would have made an immense impact on my recovery had I received Peer assistance”.

Leanne is passionate about Peer work and is excited to be part of the leadership program now offered by Ruah that helps capacity-build Peer workers to reach their full potential.

“I look at Peers as holding space for someone in a time of vulnerability. I believe that everyone should be given a go… We are able to provide a genuine connection amongst a clinical setting.”

“I enjoy witnessing the growth of Peers as they develop into their role, and I’m constantly inspired when I hear of their clients’ stories of success. I love being part of the mentor and leadership program at Ruah that highlights the role of Peer workers and the leadership pathways they can follow”.

Rick is also excited that leadership roles such as his will create a real difference in the sector.

Rick says, “Being in a leadership position has opened more doors for me to drive change in the sector. It’s fulfilling to cultivate and grow Peers professionally and to hear of their clients’ little wins and successes. To me it’s all about the human connection and creating moments of difference”.

Ruah proudly holds the honour of being WA’s largest Lived Experience (Peer) employer and envisions the community mental health sector to be Peer-led one day.