Peer support champion wins Community Award

A project that has been encouraging young people from the NSW North Coast to see their experience of mental illness and recovery as a strength and to reach out and mentor others has been recognised in the Mental Health Matters Awards this year.

NSW Mental Health Commissioner John Feneley presented Gabrielle Le Bon of Lismore with the inaugural Mental Health Matters Community Champion Award at NSW Parliament
House on 1 October 2013, for her role in the Lived Experience Project.

The Lived Experience Project, a multi-agency initiative funded by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations*, supported 25 people with a lived experience of mental illness and recovery to complete a Certificate IV in Community Services Work and to engage in mentoring relationships. To date the program has found ongoing employment for more than 75 per cent of participants.

A social worker with a passion for reforming mental health services, Ms Le Bon said “The project has been the highlight of my working life. I felt privileged to witness people’s stories of recovery and to advocate for the acknowledgement and value of the expertise of lived experience in mental health services A difficult or traumatic experience that had previously been seen as a deficit was now viewed as an asset and a reason to be employed.”

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