A journey from lived experience to supporting people in crisis

“A Peer Support Worker allows people to open up in an honest way, and speak their truth. It’s the client voice that’s important and should be listened to.” – Joal

Joal is a Peer Support Worker (PSW) at Launch Housing Southbank crisis accommodation. She’s passionate about shaping the social service sector, and helping those living in trauma who are often societies most vulnerable.

Having experienced homelessness she understands the complexities of the homelessness system and the impact of long-term impermanence.

“Having been homeless I know the complexities and hardships people can face personally. Now being permanently housed, I understand the importance of safe, affordable and permanent housing and enjoy having the privilege to support people who are going through the system.”

Now living in a secure and safe home, Joal’s desire is to better the lives of those without a home. With six years of involvement in consumer participation at Council to Homeless Person’s Homelessness Advocacy Service, before transitioning to the PSW role at Launch Housing Southbank, she’s keen to continue working with people experiencing homelessness.

Southbank’s focus on a person-centred strategy and consumer participation is an ideal fit. Joal says, “I have found healing in working in roles where lived-experience is not only valued but seen as both an asset and a profession in itself. Building relationships with clients, and being able to support them is meaningful.”

Joal will often refer people to support workers when needed, as clients are comfortable to share more knowing she’s had a lived experience.  “I listen and I try to refer clients to someone who is better able to assist them. Also, a real highlight, is when I get to take residents out to places they haven’t been before.”

Lived experience is respected at Southbank, and seen as a key strength. Joal is part of a multi-disciplinary team focused on ending homelessness.

Peer support enhances Southbank’s Wellbeing Program

Peer Support improves Southbank’s Wellbeing Program by providing recreational groups for residents. Joal manages three of these groups, and a spa day once a week.  As an owner of a Makeup Artistry business she’s able to use her training when with residents, and they receive some pampering and basic personal grooming. This program can include:

  • Manicures
  • Pedicures
  • Mini facials
  • And professional make overs

To Joal, it’s all about inspiring confidence and showing kindness to those who may not have seen it in a while.

Strengthening consumer participation is key

In addition to assisting people in crisis accommodation, Joal has provided insight and feedback for a range of service delivery developments to end homelessness. This includes influencing policy in co-design, and getting involved in consultations, focus groups, forum, workshops and panels to contribute to discussions on how best to prevent and respond to homelessness.

“I believe my role and personal experience has helped me connect and build meaningful relationships with the residents of Southbank.” – Joal

From her time as a Peer Support Worker, Joal has learnt that people just want to be heard and understood. Aside from a busy work life, Joal finds most of her spare time is teeming with activities due to the active social and lifestyle calendars of her two daughters. But that’s just how she likes it: “It’s the simple things in life that are often the best”.