The Community Mental Health and Wellbeing sector has long been an “invisible sector” in mainstream datasets. This has significant policy and planning implications – especially in the current context where there is an increasing recognition that our sector, with its focus on recovery-oriented practice, community-based care and delivery of services by people with lived experience, has a vital part to play in the broader mental health system.
This submission to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) comprehensive review of the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) explores the issues involved in defining and understanding the Community Mental Health and Wellbeing workforce, including:
- lack of mainstream, publicly available data capturing systems;
- lack of commonly agreed occupation descriptions;
- lack of mandatory qualifications; and
- overlap between community workers, health workers and NDIS workers.
Despite the challenges, we believe that reviewing the ANZSCO to reflect the Community Mental Health and Wellbeing workforce is incredibly important. We suggest that ANZSCO includes either a single new occupation for the broad occupation “mental health recovery support worker” or further distinguishes between community mental health roles by including “mental health lived experience peer worker” as well.