Wellways was most recently known as MI Fellowship. Our new name reflects a sense of hope, and it is this that we want to bring to our work with people affected by mental health issues and people living with various types of disability, their families, friends and the wider community.
Wellways began its life in 1978 as the Schizophrenia Fellowship of Victoria, which was founded by families and community members to promote the welfare of people with schizophrenia and their families. In the organisation’s first year, family support groups were established and quickly multiplied, followed by consumer support and activity groups.
Expansion continued across Victoria in the ensuing years, with more support groups, community education, respite services, residential rehabilitation, and psychosocial and employment programs.
A new government in the early 1990s changed the speed and approach to the development of community mental health services in Victoria. There was a rapid development of the psychiatric disability and support sector, now called mental health community support services.
In 2000, the membership voted to change our name to Mental Illness Fellowship Victoria to better reflect the diversity of mental health issues experienced by participants. In 2015 this name was updated again—to MI Fellowship—as the organisation expanded beyond Victoria.
Our new name, Wellways, has real grass roots origins. It was originally the brand name given to our peer education programs—Building a Future, Duo and My Recovery— originally coined by a carer in rural Victoria. Our new name honours those people with lived experience who helped shape our organisation and those who continue to do so.
In 2016, Australian HealthCall Group, known simply as HealthCall, joined Wellways, providing community-based services for persons living with various types of disability (physical, intellectual and mental health), the challenges of ageing and general health issues. With more than 55 years’ experience providing a range of person-centred supports, HealthCall works closely with clients and their families in New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and Queensland.
Our new organisational era as Wellways encompasses the very essence of our directions in mental health, disability and community care. We remain dedicated to creating genuine opportunities for each and every person to participate in the community.