The trials and tribulations of peer-led burns support initiatives in Australia: are we ‘throwing the baby out with the bath water’?

Ms Martha Druery1, Ms Charlotte  Adderley2, Mr Andrew Brown2

1Burns Trauma and Critical Care Research Centre, UQ, Brisbane, Australia, 2Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital Foundation – Burnslife, Brisbane, Australia


Peer support is an empirically useful adjunct to specialist multidisciplinary burn care in assisting both adult and paediatric burns survivors to live fulfilling lives post-injury. Formal peer support programs are resource-intensive for burns centres to operate and are therefore not currently standard practice, with a few exceptions. Therefore charities have historically arisen to provide valuable opportunities for burns survivors to meet, learn and share their experiences in both formal and informal settings.

This paper will provide an insight into the challenges that peer support programs have faced in Australia and introduce an overview of the strategies employed by Burnslife, a peer-led initiative of the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital Foundation, to address some of the inherent risks. The opportunity will be presented for conference delegates to consider the ways in which peer support is facilitated or discouraged in their local units. As burns survivors and ‘users’ of health-care services in general, become more empowered to access information online or in-person, it is vital for burns services to leverage professional expertise and optimise consumer engagement over the long-term.


Martha Druery is currently enrolled in a Research Higher Degree at UQ, having previously worked as a Social Work Specialist in Intensive Care and Burns across adult and paediatric settings since 1997. She remains actively involved in the burns field with first author publications, private practice adjustment to injury counselling services and volunteer work as a Psychosocial Clinical Advisor with Burnslife, in Queensland. Her PhD is investigating the quantitative relationship between burns outcomes and domains such as injury, treatment, personal and social factors.


ANZBA is a not for profit organisation and the peak body for health professionals responsible for the care of the burn injured in Australia and New Zealand. ANZBA encourages higher standards of care through education, performance monitoring and research.

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