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Heather Nowak

Peer Worker, SA

Heather holds a passion for using her lived experience to inform future planning, design and delivery of services, to ensure that the journey for current and future consumers and their carers is made as smooth as possible, to enable optimal recovery outcomes and ultimately reduce suicide. Having been a consumer of mental health services during the past 35 years, Heather has experienced many of the difficulties faced by consumers residing in both metropolitan and particularly regional areas, having lived in the Southeast of SA for 17 years.

Heather is one of three Mental Health Commissioners in SA bringing her knowledge of mental health systems along with that of the lived experience workforce. Having worked as a Peer Worker in the Personal Helpers and Mentors (PHaMs) program, both in metropolitan Adelaide and regionally in the Southeast, Heather has gained extensive experience in the peer role and valuable knowledge around many of the issues and challenges faced by Peer Workers. Heather participated in the development of the National Qualification for Peer Workers and assisted in co-designing the resources for Certificate IV Mental Health Peer Work. As one of the National Peer Champions, Heather was fortunate to gain the qualification and work with the SA Mental Health Coalition to bring the qualification to SA. Heather has trained the certificate in NSW with the Mental Health Coordinating Council and established/delivered the qualification through TAFE SA from 2016 to 2021.

Heather is a member of the National Consumer and Carer Forum. She was the senior Peer Consultant for the Community of Peers Project and currently provides consumer representation on the Australian Commission on National Safety and Quality in Health Care Mental Health Reference Group, the General Practice Mental Health Standards Collaboration, the National Mental Health Commission Peer Workforce Development Guidelines Steering Committee, National Initial Assessment and Referral (IAR) reference group, National Mental health Workforce Reference Group and the Review of Better Access Stakeholder Engagement Group.

The Mental Health Professionals’ Network (MHPN) respectfully acknowledges the Wurundjeri and the Boon Wurrung people of the Kulin nation, the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the land on which our office is situated. We also acknowledge Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and pay our respects to their Elders past and present.