WHAT IS A PEER WORKER?
Peer work roles are paid positions. Peer workers are employed by a drug and alcohol service to help people accessing the service to get the most out of it. They can be used at Opiate Treatment Centres (OTCs), in detoxes and at Needle and Syringe Programs (NSPs). In NSW, some peer workers are managed through NUAA.
In general, peer workers act as a liaison between the consumers of the service and those who work in it. This includes things like welcoming new consumers, negotiating rules and regulations, dealing with complaints and disputes and letting people know what is going on in the service.
Some services hire peer workers who are their own consumers (e.g. for OTCs, people who are dosed at the service they work at), while others prefer to employ peers from outside the service (e.g. people who are dosed at a different clinic or at a pharmacy). Either way, the peer worker must have experience of the issues that the consumers of the service are facing every day and have excellent communication, negotiation and problem-solving skills.
If you are interested in a peer work role, watch out for advertisements at your clinic, at the NSW Health job website www.health.nsw.gov.au/careers or on employment websites like www.EthicalJobs.com.au.