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The SHARC Peer Worker Model is a framework for the peer workforce in the AOD treatment sector. The framework seeks to ensure a quality, consistent and sustainable peer workforce via the following activities:

  • AOD Peer Work Discipline  Advocacy & Development
  • Organisational Readiness Training and Sector Capacity Building
  • Peer Worker Training
  • Peer Worker Practice Supervision
  • AOD Peer Workforce Community of Practice

In November 2017 the DHHS funded SHARC to undertake a Peer Workforce Readiness Project to ensure the AOD sector is ready to implement and support the emerging peer workforce. SHARC’s work in this project enabled a state wide training and support model for AOD peer workers. Building on SHARC’s established credentials in peer work initiatives and extensive trusted networks across the sector, the project has ensured the input and engagement of peer workers, agencies and other stakeholders in all aspects of the project towards the development of the SHARC Peer Worker Model.




AOD Peer Work Discipline Advocacy & Development

In order to develop the peer workforce and support its increasing popularity it must be defined and advocated for as its own unique professional discipline.

Advocacy and development activities include: contributions to the evidence base, development of resources and best practice guidelines, convening sector wide forums for celebration and promotion, provision of professional development opportunities and serving as a sector resource for peer work.

SHARC works to profile the value of peer work, advocate for peer work and continue sector wide workforce development.


Organisation Readiness

Understanding of peer work by both peers and non-peers is crucial to the introduction, maintenance and sustainability of the peer workforce within organisations and the community.

King and Panther (2014) express the importance of having a coherent, shared understanding of the ‘why, what, and how’ of peer work, at all levels. Training about the role for everyone can help ensure providers are taking a coherent approach to delivering peer work.

For policy-makers, managers, colleagues, this includes:

  • High-level understanding of the role, and what makes it effective
  • Understanding of the model and/or values base underpinning peer work
  • Skills and resources to manage and support peer workers

SHARC provides organisational capacity building through extensive consultation and organisational readiness training to ensure environments are conducive to a thriving peer workforce.

(King J, Panther G. (2014). Peer Support Themes. Report prepared for AOD Collaborative Group. Auckland: Julian King & Associates Limited – a member of the Kinnect Group.)



SHARC Peer Worker Training

Peer workers, like in any professional discipline, need quality, standardised training and ongoing professional development.

Through extensive research, co-design, SHARC has developed Peer Worker Training.  This comprehensive training provides a vital knowledge base for peer workers in the AOD sector, and ensures that the peer workforce has a discipline-specific framework.

The SHARC Peer Worker Training seeks to:

  • Educate peer workers around core concepts and skills within the peer work discipline
  • Assist peer workers to practically apply best practice peer work in formalised settings
  • Assist peer workers to understand the AOD service system in Victoria and the role of Care and Recovery Co-ordination
  • Bring an Intentional Peer Support (IPS) lens to the peer work discipline in AOD
  • Empower peer workers to advocate for the discipline and manage their own wellbeing and development needs
  • Prepare peer workers to work across a number of domains, remaining ‘peer’ within clinical governance frameworks

This 5 day training package was developed through SHARC’s many years of experience in the delivery of peer programs and activities. It continues to be reviewed by SHARC and the Victorian AOD Peer Workforce Community of Practice to ensure its currency and applicability.

‘(the training) provided a framework to fall back on and refer to…the manual will be on my desk at all times for future reference’ – Peer Worker

‘(The training) helped me better understand the discipline and differentiate it from clinical roles. It has taught me how to best utilize my lived experience’ – Peer Worker



Peer Worker Practice Supervision

SHARC Peer Worker Practice Supervision is specific to the peer work discipline and ensures that the peer workforce is strategically and meaningfully supported in their role.

SHARC’s Peer Worker Professional Practice Supervision has been developed upon a set of core principles:

  1. Supervisors are professionals, specialising in the peer workforce discipline with their own lived experience
  2. Supervision supports and reinforces the value of the peer work discipline
  3. Supervisors understand and promote personal recovery and professional growth

Our Supervisors are trained in clinical supervision and bring specific skills related to the peer workforce including their own lived experience. Supervisors strive towards mutuality in supervisory relationship, encouraging openness and empowerment. They create a supportive and stimulating environment where Peer Workers are encouraged to reflect, learn, and grow.

SHARC offers one on one and group supervision for the AOD peer workforce around the state by a professional supervisor specialising in the peer work discipline.

‘(having a supervisor with lived experience) was beneficial as they have more of an understanding…’ – Supervisee 2018

‘The best aspect was being able to openly discuss difficulties faced, and receiving advice, support and feedback’ – Supervisee 2018



AOD Peer Workforce Community of Practice

Like any discipline, it is imperative that the peer workforce has an ongoing mechanism for networking, development and information exchange.

The AOD Peer Workforce Community of Practice (CoP) supports and cultivates the existing and emerging peer workforce and seeks to draw upon the collective knowledge, experiences and resources of our community to provide:

  • Continuous professional development
  • Collegiate support to underpin sharing, resourcing and collaborative problem-solving
  • Opportunities for consultation and feedback to enhance the development of the peer workforce

SHARC’s AOD Peer Workforce Community of Practice meets quarterly, is open to all paid peer workers in Victoria and serves as an opportunity to network, celebrate the discipline and feedback trends to agency, community and government.