What is the Lived Experience Advocate Service?
ATDC’s Lived Experience Advocate Service (LEAS) gives people who have a lived experience of alcohol and other drug use the chance to have a say in how alcohol and other drug services are delivered.
It also gives service providers, the media and other community and government groups the chance to draw on the expertise of people with lived experience.
The LEAS is supported by Tasmanian Government funding.
What is a Lived Experience Advocate?
A Lived Experience Advocate is someone who has lived experience of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs (ATOD) products or services. They may use alcohol or drugs themselves, or they may be a family member, friend or carer of someone who does.
A Lived Experience Advocate (Advocate) is someone who speaks about their own experience, as well as speaking and acting as an authentic voice from the community of people who use alcohol, tobacco and other drugs and ATOD services.
ATOD services can include therapy and counselling, drugs education, crisis services, and help dealing with the legal system. People who use these services are sometimes referred to as ‘people with ATOD lived experience’, ‘service users’ or ‘consumers’.
An Advocate uses their personal experience to speak up for ATOD service users and people with lived experience. This means:
- talking to people with ATOD lived experience to find out what ATOD services they need and how they want to be treated; and
- taking this information back to ATOD service providers so they can have meaningful influence on service delivery and design, projects and programs, and policies for the sector.
Who can be a Lived Experience Advocate?
Anyone with lived experience of a dependence on alcohol or other drugs (including close supports like family, friends, and carers) can be a Lived Experience Advocate.
What does a Lived Experience Advocate do?
Advocates are a direct link between users of ATOD services and the people who provide or have a stake those services. An Advocate can use their lived experience and the experience of others to give providers feedback and advice on the full range of ATOD services.
It’s a bit like an airline passenger being invited to talk about their flight. That passenger is the best person to describe their experience from check-in to arrival. This might include how comfortable the seat was, how safe they felt, what they thought of the meal and—perhaps most importantly—how the staff treated them during the journey. In the same way, people with lived experience can describe how they felt, or are feeling, about their journey with ATOD services. This might include things like how they feel about walking into their local chemist for their pharmacotherapy program; how their best friend with a dependence on alcohol has struggled to find the right rehab program; what it’s like caring for a child with a dependence; or even what drug trends they’re seeing on the streets.
An Advocate has the chance to make a real difference to ATOD services and the way they are delivered. Advocates are invited to work with ATOD services and committees, talk about their personal experiences and represent the wider community of people with ATOD lived experience. Being an Advocate doesn’t just mean being a focus for people’s complaints—the ATDC already has a process for that. However, an Advocate plays an important part in talking about how people feel about the services they use.
How are Lived Experience Advocates supported?
Advocates are paid an hourly rate for their time and experience. They also get introductory training and ongoing support from the ATDC’s Lived Experience Advocate Service (LEAS) Coordinator.
Download LEAS information pack PDF (coming soon)