Community and Peer Program

Lived experience peers group photo

The Open Arms Community and Peer Program involves ‘lived experience’ peers working collaboratively with veterans, families, community agencies and mental health clinicians.

Community and Peer Advisors complement our counselling and group program services, and provide a more holistic and therapeutic experience for clients.

Who are our Peers

Our Community and Peer Advisors uniquely understand what it is like to reach out for support. As ex-ADF veterans and family representatives, they have had the experience of accessing mental health services for their own recovery and wellbeing. Based on their personal experiences, they understand what it takes to find a way back from mental illness and are well placed to support current and ex-serving ADF members and their families to find solutions for better health and wellbeing.

How our Peers help

Peers draw on their own lived experiences from the military and mental health service system when working with clients. They are able to provide insight and support to veterans with complex care needs and can provide intensive case management . They can also provide referrals for post-service issues such as:

  • finances
  • relationships
  • employment
  • physical health
  • mental health
  • thoughts of suicide

Community and Peer Advisors have an excellent understanding of the local support services. 

Community engagement

Our peers are active in their local communities:

  • Giving presentations
  • Visiting service providers
  • Attending community meetings and forums
  • Creating engagement opportunities, e.g. wheelchair basketball and coffee shop outings
Peer in the community

Direct client services

  • Conducting intake (outreach based), e.g. at hospitals and crisis accommodation
  • Helping with case management, e.g. linking to services
  • Providing peer support, e.g. using their lived experience to connect 1:1 with veterans and their families and being positive role models for good health and wellbeing
Peer in the community

Peer Network

  • Support, education and networking
  • Monthly meetings (currently in Townsville with future locations to be announced)
  • Peer support training programs

Contact us

To learn more about how the Community and Peer Program could help you, call Open Arms on 1800 011 046. The Open Arms’ Community and Peer Program is available nationally.

Community and Peer Program Induction Workshop 25-29 November 2019

Open Arms recently hosted an Induction Workshop for the Community and Peer Program which is currently being rolled out across Australia.

The program, piloted in Townsville, had positive results with Open Arms peers breaking down barriers to care, improving relationships with key community groups, and reducing the stigma for veterans around mental health and seeking help. The national roll-out of the program is a significant step forward in improving the lives of veterans and their families.

Twenty-nine peers, in addition to the six peers from the Townsville pilot, attended the workshop. They are being trained as Mental Health Peer Workers and will work from fourteen Open Arms locations nationally. 

Also in attendance for the training were representatives from key veteran-run organisations with a passion for supporting veterans’ mental health, including Swiss8, Red Six and Survive to Thrive Nation. 

The Community and Peer Program will provide Open Arms with a skilled workforce of veterans from across all three Australian Defence Force services and family representatives, to augment clinical capability across Australia by mid-2020.