Plumtree is a proud advocate of peer work in early childhood intervention. Since 2015, we have trained and employed 20 peer workers who do a range of paid work that includes running workshops and courses, research, project management, vision-setting and planning with families. If you work with Plumtree, chances are you have already connected with one or more of them.
Peer workers’ lived experience in raising a child with disability or developmental delay are a valuable resource that complements existing family-centred services. Their insights can provide a new kind of support and knowledge-building for families. Increasing hope and optimism, promoting inclusive services and approaches, and decreasing social isolation are just a few examples.
And yet, peer work is not common in the early childhood intervention and disability sectors. We want to change that.
With a grant from the Innovative Workforce Fund in 2017, we began a project to research, document and develop resources to support the introduction of families as peer workers in ECI organisations. Research drew from the experience and evidence of peer workers in the mental health sector, and those working at Plumtree.
The project promotes peer workers as a new, untapped workforce that should be used more in the disability sector.
The resources produced include (click to download where available):
- At a glance: Families as peer workers in Early Childhood Intervention
- Literature Review on peer work in mental health and ECI
- Guide and resource toolkit to support peer workforce integration in ECI organisations
- Report on peer worker use in ECI organisations by the Centre for Disability Studies, University of Sydney
- Knowledge Translation strategy and action plan to disseminate key project messages
- Article on peer work in ECI for publication in a peer-reviewed journal
We will also be presenting the project’s main findings at the NDS Outside the Box conference, held in Sydney on September 10–11, 2018. Printed copies of the resources will be showcased at the Plumtree booth and our peer workers will be attending to answer questions.
Want to meet the team and find out more? We look forward to seeing you there!
- Podcast: Iriss.fm broadcasted a conversation between Sylvana Mahmic (CEO) and Dr Melanie Heyworth (Peer Worker) who tell the story of Now and Next, a project that has been successful at involving families as peer workers in early childhood intervention