New Zealand Comes to PRA

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International Newsletter Vol. 9 Spring 2015
January 19, 2015

Lisa St. George, MSW, CPRP Director of Recovery Practice & Gloria Whyte, Peer Recovery Educator

Kia Ora and greetings from Aotearoa (New Zealand)! Aotearoa is the Maori word for New Zealand and means the land of the long white cloud. Recovery Innovations was invited into New Zealand, after leaders and service users, as well as peer leaders made several trips to Recovery Innovations in Phoenix. They came to gain stronger understanding of the value of peer support, further their understanding of recovery, and gain expertise in developing peer-run services throughout their system of care. The journey began in 2003 and Recovery Opportunity Center provided multiple Peer Employment Trainings in New Zealand between 2004 and 2009. In 2008, we worked with local leadership to help Pathways Service develop a peer-run crisis service, Tupu Ake, fashioned after Recovery Innovation’s ” Living Room.” Then, Lisa St George provided consultation and leadership to the District Health Board and peer support leaders for over a year. In 2009, Recovery Innovations was asked to develop a peer-run Recovery Education Center in Counties Manukau. One year later, RI was asked to present Peer Employment Training in Counties Manukau as a core service. quick overview of RI’s relationship with New Zealand brings us to the PRA Recovery Workforce Summit that took place in Baltimore, Maryland June 22-25, 2014. As part of our commitment to supporting systems to experience the power of peer support and develop deeper understanding of the principles of recovery, we presented a workshop entitled: Adapting Peer Employment Training and Continuing Education for Peer Support to the Diverse Cultural Needs in New Zealand.

Some goals in the workshop were to increase understanding of the ways that trainings for peers are developed to meet diverse cultural needs. In addition, we delivered a strong message about the importance of developing continuing education and training courses for peer support workers. We also provided a quick review of important ethical considerations for peers.

The presentation included both English and Uru Whenua (Maori) languages. Because of the high level of diversity present in Aotearoa (New Zealand), we have developed a team in Manukau City that represents the different cultures and languages found in the community served by Recovery Innovations. We use Maori, Cantonese, Mandarin, English, Urdu, and Samoan languages. When we took our training materials to New Zealand, we adapted the material to New Zealand English and to fit the culture.

However, because our materials are written from an experiential and humanistic perspective, much of it crosses cultures and so the adaptations did not change the breadth and depth of the material. When we work from a perspective of shared humanity and mutuality, we are able to educate and touch people across cultures.

Some important cultural norms in Aotearoa are that atawhai (kindness) is valued, whakarongo mai (listening) is an important aspect of relationships, acceptance of differences is expected, and this includes all races, beliefs, ethnicities, sexual preferences, and manners of dress. In Aotearoa (New Zealand) everyone is treated with hoatu te mana (respect). So all services are conducted with these key components in place and respected. taking training, materials, or services into differing ethnic communities one of the things we have learned is to bring local expertise to our teams. Having local expertise will support your services not to frame different ways of being into non-compliance, resistance, or failure. As human service providers, we must enter different cultural groups in the role of a humble learner and put all of our assumptions aside.

Having Gloria as part of the RI team in Aotearoa (New Zealand) has supported our services and tools to be fully adapted to the needs of New Zealanders. As the Peer Recovery Educator, one of her responsibilities is to train people with lived experience of recovery to serve as Peer Support Specialists. She brings aratumanako (hope), and aroha (mutual growth) to the training experience. Her mana (presence, dignity) is strong and she brings whakatauki (wisdom) of her culture to the training. RI’s Peer Employment Training is seen as hua rahi whakaora (a healing tool) as well as a training tool in New Zealand.

Our training has put many people back to work. We provide continuing education to help people develop their skills. We have seen the system in New Zealand transformed because of the commitment of the Counties Manukau District Health Board to the idea and value of peer support. As more Peer Support workers have entered the system the service teams see people served returning to work, recovering, and partnering in the workplace. This is probably the most important aspect of peer support work. The fact that peers serve alongside clinical team members causes the belief in recovery to grow strong.

Some of the trainings offered by our New Zealand team, developed by the Recovery Opportunity Center of Recovery Innovations are Peer Employment Training, Recovery Coaching, Advance Peer Practices, Ethics and Boundaries of Peer Support, Emerging Leaders, Culture of Recovery, and Keeping the Recovery Skills Alive. Wellness Courses provided by our services in New Zealand include WELL (Wellness and Empowerment in Life and Living), My Wellness, My Doctor, and Me, Transformational Advocacy, Advocacy for Positive Outcomes, and Recovery in Action Community Events.

Whether we are Peer Support providers, clinical team members, or CEO’s understanding that recovery is a fact, and that it is possible across cultures is an important part of our ability to inspire aratumanako (hope) in the people we serve. Remember, entering into relationships based in our common humanity as a humble learner will help enter into diverse populations without judgment and prepared to embrace our unique differences.