How do I become a Lived Experience Advocate?
Step One: Consider the Selection Criteria
First, consider if you meet the following selection criteria:
- lived in Tasmania for at least six months
- have personal lived experience with alcohol and other drug dependence, which can include being significantly impacted as a family member or friend of someone with alcohol and other drug dependence
- capacity to work well in a team, using judgment and self-awareness, or be able to acquire it
- adequate communication skills. You don’t need to be an amazing communicator, we welcome all levels, but you do need to be able to:
- communicate your thoughts and feelings in a constructive manner, according to the context
- reflect on issues that impact the people you know, keeping in mine perspective of the wider community and not only own personal experience
- provide advice and direction from the perspective of a service user
Step Two: Submit an Expression of Interest
If you’re confident you can satisfy this selection criteria, next submit an Expression of Interest (EOI). This can be completed on the ATDC website. There are five questions to answer:
- Please provide a short summary of your lived experience, which you are willing and comfortable to share.
- Why do you want to use your involvement to influence the Alcohol and Other Drugs sector?
- Please detail your understanding of the Lived Experience Advocate role.
- Why would you make a good LEA?
- How did you find out about this role?
Your EOI will be reviewed by the ATDC and compared against the selection criteria, as well as capacity and need. We’re looking for a diverse range of representatives from across the state.
Step Three: Formal Application
Upon successful review of your EOI, the ATDC invite you to submit your formal application. It will also offer you the chance to provide more details, such as your specific interests, access issues, and availability.
Step Four: Induction!
Following the successful review of your formal application, you will be invited to an induction meeting with the Lived Experience Advocate Service Coordinator (LEASC), as applicable. This will occur face to face or over the phone if needed.
This is where you will be able to ask questions, gain further insights, complete paperwork to finalise the agreement between yourself and the ATDC, and provide further detail about your lived experience and relevant skills.
The Lived Experience Advocate Service Coordinator is highly skilled to support you to share your story, and upholds strict confidentiality and privacy standards.
Following the induction, both you and the Lived Experience Advocate Service Coordinator will have a greater understanding of which roles may best suit you, and you will be ready to start being assigned to LEA roles.
Opportunities for Advocates
There are a range of opportunities for Advocates to engage with services and share their lived experience.
1. Joining a Board, Committee or Working Group
This may involve being a member of a group that discusses and gives advice on alcohol, tobacco and other drug (ATOD) issues. These groups usually send out some reading material before each meeting that sets out what they will be discussing. An LEA reads the material, attends the meeting and talks about their experience of the issue being discussed.
2. Supporting service organisations
Sometimes, organisations that provide services in the ATOD sector need a person with a lived experience of ATODs to provide feedback or advice about their services. This can include:
⦁ helping to choose staff (e.g. by being part of an interview panel).
⦁ giving feedback about a change in services (e.g. changing opening hours, or what services are needed and how they are provided).
⦁ reading and commenting on documents or policies dealing with ATOD services.
3. Talking about your experience
Stories about your lived experience dealing with ATOD services are a very powerful way to help people understand the issues faced by people with a lived experience of ATOD use and/or treatment. This can be useful in challenging stigma and in health promotion. The media often asks the ATDC to comment on ATOD issues and they are usually most interested in talking to someone who has personal experience. If you are prepared to share your story, but you’re not comfortable being identified, your name and/or image can be kept private.
Additionally, the ATDC often puts out a call out to see what’s been happening on the ground. We use this information to make a list of the issues currently facing people who use ATOD services. The list helps us when we work with the government to develop ATOD policies and in deciding where to focus our own activities.
4. Professional Development
We value your time and your expertise and want to help you become a skilled volunteer LEA. It takes a special person to reflect on your own issues, the issues that impact the people you know, and to keep in mind the perspective of the wider community. It can be challenging to think and speak objectively as an LEA, especially about issues that are personal to you and may be at odds with your personal view. We will help you on your journey by providing professional training and ongoing support, including informal training, including feedback discussions and debriefs with the Lived Experience Advocate Service Coordinator.
What support will I get as an Advocate?
As an LEA, you will be treated with professional courtesy, dignity and respect, as any community volunteer should expect to be treated.
What happens first?
Before you join our team of LEAs, the Lived Experience Advocate Service Coordinator (LEASC) will spend some time getting to know you and your story, to whatever extent you are comfortable sharing. This will help the LEASC understand what type of role will suit you best. It will also give you the chance to talk about your experiences, the things that are important to you, and what you hope to achieve as an LEA—and to ask any questions you have about possible roles.
Who is the Coordinator?
The ATDC’s LEASC will help you find a role with a service organisation that has asked for an LEA (‘requesting service’). The LEASC will also give you the support you need to make that role a success. Before you are placed with a requesting service, the LEASC will talk to you about what the role involves, what to expect, and how you might prepare for it.
While you are an LEA, you can contact the LEASC for help with your role.
Lived Experience Advocate Service Coord.A generous, positive and friendly human, the more serious elements of Kyle’s social justice warrior persona aren’t easy to pick on first greeting. But his passion for social justice quickly becomes evident through his deeply thoughtful and captivating conversation.Read more✖
His teammates describe him as a creative and inspiring visionary, but also value his playful and fun attitude. His mastery of words and delight in using them well also makes Kyle a loved member of the team. Kyle’s experiences in both volunteer and paid work have brought a kaleidoscope of perspectives to his current role, and the addition of his academic success makes a recipe for success when working with his team and clients. When Kyle isn’t supporting the Lived Experience Advocate Service, you might find him promoting his bestselling novel The Bluffs (2020, Penguin Random House Australia.) Kyle holds a Bachelor of Counselling (Coaching) and he hopes to see a world where some of the major causes of crime – i.e., lack of education, safety, and housing – are acknowledged as a responsibility of the whole community to work to improve, and so see crime rates truly drop. Career highlights:
- Being recipient of the 2021 Tasmanian Minister’s ATOD Sector Emerging Leader Award
- Three months of mission work in Mozambique
- Breakout bestselling novel The Bluffs, 2020, Penguin Random House Australia
What happens when I get a role?
Once you have officially been placed, the LEASC will meet with you to discuss anything else you feel you might need. You can contact the LEASC at any time during your role if you have questions or need advice.
Once you have a role, the LEASC will also keep in touch with the service you are working with. If you have any concerns about the role, the LEASC can help you raise those with the requesting service or talk to the requesting service on your behalf.
Following your role, you will have the chance to talk about it (debrief) with the LEASC. This will include talking about the role itself, how you felt about it, any other feedback, and the types of roles you are interested in for the future.
What if I need treatment?
Regarding drug treatment, the ATDC and LEASC cannot provide case management or counselling services, or any other clinical or treatment services. If you need treatment, we will talk to you about how to get the support you need and still be a part of the LEA program. If you’re looking for a treatment service, we can tell you where to find the right information.
People with a lived experience of ATOD use and treatment play an important part in all areas of ATOD policy development, planning, service delivery and community engagement. The ATDC wants to be sure that the contribution of LEAs is valued, respected and meaningful. This includes awarding a fixed honorarium for their time, expertise and advice.
An honorarium is a recognition payment made to community members who volunteer their time to support not-for-profit activities.
Please note that LEAs are not employees. Roles are assigned based on diversity, availability, fairness, equity, best-fit, and availability. You cannot rely on an honorarium as a sustainable income.
More information can be found in the Lived Experience Advocate Service Finance Policy.
Reimbursement for volunteer work-related expenses
Reimbursements are payments made to someone for actual expenses that have already been incurred and paid for.
Sometimes there may be expenses related to your role as an LEA. These ‘reasonable expenses’ may include public transport and taxi fares, parking fees and meals (when travelling overnight).
LEAs are provided with an LEA Role Sheet that gives all the role details, including the fixed honorarium amount and any other expenses that will be covered or reimbursed.
If you think that activity will involve any other expenses, you need to tell the LEASC beforehand.
Make sure you get receipts for any out-of-pocket expenses and take these back to the ATDC so they can reimburse you for what you’ve spent.
It is important to talk to the LEASC before you make any out-of-pocket payments, because repayments are not usually made after the fact. However, if you have to make an unexpected out-of-pocket payment (e.g. if you attend a meeting where you thought lunch would be provided, but you had to buy your own lunch instead), you should tell the LEASC about it as soon as possible.
The LEASC will discuss the Finance Policy with you at induction.
This policy sets out how we collect, use, disclose and otherwise manage personal information about you .
Your privacy is very important and we will protect the personal information we collect from you. In Australia, there are laws that set out how organisations must manage people’s personal information: the Privacy Act 1988 and the Personal Information Protection Act 2004 .
What information will be collected?
We may collect and hold personal information about you in the course of providing you, or someone else you know, with services. This includes information that can identify you, such as your name, address, other contact details and other information related to our services. For the LEA role, we will also collect the details that you share with us about your lived experience, in order to build an accurate profile and keep professional records. If at any time you tell us something that you don’t want recorded, let us know and we will not keep a record of that information. Any information that is recorded will only be accessible to the LEAS Coordinator (LEASC),their supervisor, and the ATDC CEO.
How will my information be kept safe?
We store your personal information in different ways, including in paper and electronic form. We take all reasonable measures—including electronic and physical security measures— to ensure that your personal information is protected from misuse, loss, unauthorized access, modification or disclosure. If you wish for all your information to be deleted, please submit that request in writing.
Why is my information being collected?
The personal information that we collect and hold about you depends on your interaction with us. Generally, for the LEA role, we will collect and hold your personal information so that we can support you in your role, such as finding roles that will suit you, and keeping records of your experiences and feedback. We might also use your information:
- to provide services to you
- to answer queries made by you
- to send you information about a conference or event you have expressed an interest in, or are attending
- to let you know about other services that might be of interest to you
- to send you promotional information about us and other organisations that we have links with
- as part of day-to-day business operations, such as meeting legal requirements for record-keeping
- when we need feedback on our services and customer needs so that we can set up new or better services
- to monitor our website performance
- to let you know about our achievements, new appointments, future conferences and events.
Already an advocate? You can find policies, forms and more information on our Advocate Resources page.
Contact the Lived Experience Advocate Service