3. Major expansion of peer and cultural workforces

We need to develop an equitable balance, in status and in numbers, of three workforces to share in the delivery of all the Big Community responses, across the lifespan:

  • Peer workforce (including people with lived experience of distress/addiction and whānau).
  • Cultural workforces (including Māori and Pasifika).
  • Traditional workforces (such as medical professionals, allied professionals and support workers).

The three workforces need to have the capacity to:

  • Respect human rights.
  • Work in partnership with people and their whānau.
  • Focus on improving their self-defined health and life outcomes.
  • Connect them to their personal, whānau and community resources.
  • Apply Tikanga values.
  • Work with people from different cultures and backgrounds.
  • Recognise and respond to trauma.
  • Offer harm minimisation and abstinence options to people with addiction.
  • Collaborate closely with communities and other workforces.

Tikanga Māori

Big Community encompasses Tikanga Māori, or the customs and overall cultural code of conduct governing Te Ao Māori. Important Tikanga values in this context include:

  • Aroha: Concern and sympathy for others.
  • Manākitanga: Respect and hospitality.
  • Wairuatanga: Connection to a greater source.
  • Whakapapa: Whānau and kinship ties.
  • Tūrangawaewae: Identity and a place to stand.
  • Whānau ora: Support for whānau to thrive.

Peer Workforce

A peer is someone who has ‘walked in your shoes’. Peer workers are trained, employed and supervised to openly use their lived experience of mental distress or addiction in their work. The peer workforce includes support, advocacy, education, research and advisory roles. Peer workers are powerful role models for recovery and use mutuality to create deep connections with the people they work with. Peer support work has a robust evidence base and is a rapidly growing occupational group in mental health and addiction across the world. However, peer workers in advisory and support roles make up only 2.7% of the mental health and addiction workforce in New Zealand.