Peer support services follow the belief that individuals who have lived experience of homicide, and can better relate to other individuals trying to deal with similar experience, than those who have not had that experience. By listening empathetically, sharing their experiences and offering suggestions based on that experience, people with a lived experience of a homicide are uniquely able to help others like themselves.
Sharing lived experiences provides multiple perspectives of the experience, thereby broadening understanding. The accumulated knowledge drawn from the lifelong learning journeys of many people becomes an invaluable source of insights and an unmatched source of support and inspiration for people dealing with the violent death of a loved one.
The peer support approach promotes a wellness model. Assisting a person to find and develop their own personal resources empowers the individual with the belief that they can and do have control over their life. Peer support provides a low-cost approach to the provision of support and assistance which allows for freedom of participation, when and where required, without waiting lists or limitations on number of visits.
“Peer support is based on the belief that people who have faced, endured, and overcome adversity can offer useful support, encouragement, hope, and perhaps mentorship to others facing similar situations” (Davidson, Chainman, Sells, & Rowe, 2006).
People who have participated in peer support talk of finding empowerment, finding a voice, increased confidence and self-esteem, dignity and respect and acceptance. They talked of finding a source of hope and optimism, companionship and friendship and reduced isolation.
In addition, participants emphasised the value of role modelling in inspiring service users with hope and optimism. An important aspect of role-modelling is to introduce the idea – and the hope – that there are possibilities and options beyond a current situation
Being part of a group give people a sense of mutual understanding, shared identity, shared experiences and a sense of belonging. It encourages talk of what the group could achieve together: challenging the status quo, collective action/campaigning, of finding strength in numbers, political commitment. In addition to this are the collective benefits derived from being in a mutually supportive group with a shared identity or identities: the sum being greater than the parts.
Peer support offers practical benefits, such as accessing information and advice, learning new skills and strategies and signposting to other sources of help and information.
Often people who participate in peer support groups find that they make new social networks, they feel more socially included, they feel more involved in collectively challenging stigma and become an important voice advocating for justice and safety in society.
Benefits for Peer Workers
Peer support volunteers often find that they have a greater understanding of their own situation, an opportunity to challenge barriers and stigma/discrimination and increased self-esteem and confidence. Peer support volunteers may realise how far they had come and how valuable it was to be able to give something back to others.
WHAT CAN PEER SUPPORTERS DO?
The following information is a brief introduction of current or identified activities that QHVSG offer and the other sections of the training manual outline them in more detail. Suggestions for other activities not listed are very welcome.
Telephone support is a valuable way to support families who are isolated by location, mobility issues or who cannot attend group meetings. QHVSG volunteers (currently not peers) call families around the time of the anniversary of the death to offer comfort and support. The 24 hour support line is also covered by volunteers after business hours. Telephone peer support can take on either of these tasks or have a more structured approach whereby Family Support Coordinators identify families in need of support and make a time for a peer supporter to call by checking with each person availability and permission.
Support Group Facilitation
QHVSG has operated peer support groups since its inception. Support groups can be structured (facilitated, intentional peer support), social or informational. Ideally it will be a mixture of all three however this will depend on each region and the identified needs of members.
Attending court with a family to support them through legal proceedings.
Online and Social Media Platforms
Moderating and participating in online or social media platforms to provide an easy, safe way to communicate with others who have been affected by homicide.
A member driven mechanism for people affected by homicide to utilise their knowledge and experience to direct service provision, policy and research. For example, Queensland Police detective training.
Speaking to the wider community about personal experiences of the impact of homicide with a clear objective of awareness raising of not only QHVSG but the impact of lethal violence and anti-social behaviour.
Board of Director roles
All of our Directors are volunteers (both Peer and non-peer).
You do not usually have to have any specific qualifications to be a board member. However, the best boards are those that have a good mix of a large range of skills.
All board members, regardless of qualifications, need to be “eligible” in the eyes of the law to hold that position. An eligible person generally is:
- An adult (over 18 years of age);
- Not insolvent or under administration; and,
- Not disqualified under the group’s constitution or due to a breach of their duties.
What do board members do?
Board members are charged with working collectively to act as the “mind” of the community group they serve. In doing so, they must work together to:
- Determine the group’s mission and purpose;
- Set a strategic vision and plan;
- Ensure the group is financially and legally accountable;
- Appoint and monitor the group’s CEO (if it has one);
- Ensure the group has adequate resources;
- Work to enhance the group’s public image; and
- Assess the board’s effectiveness.
In practice, this may involve, among a plethora of other tasks:
- Approving budgets
- Managing risk
- Keeping on top of relevant laws and regulations
- Approving major programs and projects undertaken by the group in achieving its mission
- Attending and participating in monthly meetings
- Serving on board committees
- Supporting fundraising strategies
- Representing stakeholders’ views during meetings
- Speaking about the group at functions
- Acting as the group’s media spokesperson
- Lobbying on behalf of the group
- Organising and attending board retreats and other evaluation activities
QHVSG is seen a medium sized charity. Board members serve a large community group and QHVSG has paid staff members.
As such the Board moves away from administration type tasks and concentrates on governance. In QHSVG, the board member’s role is to work with the board as a whole to oversee and steer the community group.
If you are interested in these roles please contact firstname.lastname@example.org in the first instance.