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Enshrining rights and recovery in organisational policy: Consumers of Mental Health Western Australia   

Learn how Consumers of Mental Health Western Australia’s (CoMHWA) Rights, Wellbeing and Recovery policy gives workers with lived experience the tools to help support mental health in the workplace.    


Group photo CoMHWA
  • CoMHWA is a not-for-profit organisation that provides mental health advocacy and representation. It was formed by people with lived experience of mental health challenges and recovery.   
  • The organisation has a policy that adopts principles for rights for recovery, trauma recovery and wellbeing within the organisation's approaches and practices. The policy aids in addressing mental health stigmas by encouraging conversation.  
  • CoMHWA incorporated the policy into its operational practices, providing workers with the tools to address mental health in the workplace.  

CoMHWA is the peak body by and for people with a lived or living experience of mental health issues in Western Australia. Representation includes people with personal wellbeing issues, psychosocial disability and mental health challenges. 

In 2015, a growth push saw CoMHWA’s team expand and conduct work within the community, particularly in the mental health and disability sector. The organisation recognised it needed an approach that would more robustly protect its workers, so the Rights, Wellbeing and Recovery policy was developed to focus on a worker's wellbeing, recovery rights, protection and engagement in the community.   

The Rights, Wellbeing and Recovery policy encourages staff, volunteers and contractors to treat the pillars of rights, recovery, trauma recovery and wellbeing as fundamental principles in everyday work practices. Wellbeing and rights are at the forefront, maintaining one of CoMHWA’s key goals, which is to promote mental health recovery.   

Developed through consultation with workers and in a trauma-informed manner, the Rights, Wellbeing and Recovery policy aims to ensure the organisation actively promotes mental health in the workplace. The policy is integrated into operational practice. For example, CoMHWA workers have access to peer supervision and external support when they need it. Through this, workers can reflect confidentially on their work, practices, peers and their wellbeing, guaranteeing support in their professional development. Peer supervision is an essential support for peer workers, so they can maintain the values of peer work and safely draw from their lived experience.  

The Rights, Wellbeing and Recovery policy is ever evolving, through ongoing communication and collaboration within the CoMHWA network and its workers. This helps keep the approaches and methods of supporting mental health relevant, personal and tailored to the individual.   

The benefits of actively enshrining rights for recovery, trauma recovery and wellbeing within organisational policies are evident in the positive impact the policy has had on CoMHWA staff. Investment in mental health is not merely a legislative responsibility—it is an investment in the organisation and the workers.  

CoMHWA also helped develop and champion the WA Lived Experience (Peer) Workforces Framework. This framework contributes to reducing the demand for crisis services by facilitating person-centred support for mental health recovery. It supports those experiencing distress by developing organisations’ understanding of how to engage and support peer workers in mental health. The policy and framework help to manage employee workloads and reduce stress.  

“From my experience, CoMHWA has been incredibly supportive and, in fact, the most supportive workplace culture I’ve ever personally experienced.” Dr Melissa Russell, Peer Pathways Manager at CoMHWA   

  • Health Care and Social Assistance
  • WA
  • Published 25 Jul 2023
  • Updated 25 Jul 2023