Wellways congratulates and thanks the indomitable Run4Mind team—Rachael Laycock, Vanessa Heuser and team support Adrian Middleton—on completing an ultra-running challenge in Tasmania, which raised $14,425 for Wellways. The runners completed 14 marathons in 15 days, starting at a different Tasmanian location each day, traversing mountains, coastlines, forests and national parks for a total of 591km. Late in January, Rachael and Vanessa, accompanied by a small team of runners, completed the last leg of Run4Mind Tasmania—in Melbourne!  Their 15th marathon started at Melbourne’s Federation Square, taking in laps at Albert Park, the Botanical Gardens Tan Track and the Yarra Trail. Vanessa and Rachael’s extraordinary running endeavour was motivated by their own experience with mental illness and their desire to raise awareness of mental health. Wellways expresses its deep appreciation and gratitude to the Run4Mind team.

Talking about reconciliation

Stewart Sutherland, project officer for Wellways’ Reconciliation Action Plan, writes regular newsletters for our staff about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, history and resources, and covers a range of issues facing Indigenous communities. Most recently Stewart has discussed ‘food insecurity’—not having sufficient, safe and nutritious food to eat—as a major concern within many Indigenous communities. Access to nutritious and affordable food is a key determinant in achieving health equality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. Research exploring the physical and mental effects of food insecurity on an individual has demonstrated linkages with poor mental health, depression, obesity, diabetes and heart disease among Indigenous people (Tonn, 2011). The level of food insecurity within Indigenous communities has been reported to be as high as 51% (Chan et al, 3011).

We remind our readers about the upcoming anniversary of the National Apology. On 13 February 2008 the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd MP, delivered his national apology to the Stolen Generations on behalf of the Australian Government. By validating the experiences of the Stolen Generations, the foundations were laid for healing to take place and for a reconciled Australia in which everyone belongs.

Wellways regions will mark the significance of National Apology Day in different ways, by participating in community ceremonies, lunch events, and conversations with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and services.

Learn about advocacy

The Wellways advocacy team will be hosting a workshop for consumers, families, individuals and community organisations who are interested in learning about advocacy and creating inclusive communities. The advocacy team develops and coordinates projects geared towards positive change for people experiencing mental ill health and psychosocial disability, their families and friends, so that they have the same life opportunities as other citizens. Be a part of creating community-based plans by attending the workshop on Tuesday 28 February 2017, 10am–3pm, at Mantra Bell City, Manhattan Room, 215 Bell Street, Preston VIC 3072. RSVP: Eventbrite. For more information contact Rachael Lovelock and Cassy Nunan by email or on 1300 111 400.

Grampians Mental Health Conference

Wellways Ballarat staff will be participating in the upcoming Grampians Mental Health Conference, Resilience through the Lifespan, on 21 and 22 March 2017 at the Mercure Ballarat Hotel and Convention Centre. The bi-annual Grampians Mental Health Conference is a combined initiative of Regional Mental Health and AOD (alcohol and other drugs) providers in the Grampians region. The conference, for mental health, AOD and welfare sector staff, features an array of guest speakers, including Professor Louise Newman AM, Director of the Monash University Centre for Developmental Psychiatry and Psychology, and Mr Andrew Fuller, clinical psychologist and well-known author, specialising in the wellbeing of young people and their families.

Community Consultation Group

The Community Consultation Group, in the Wellways South East Melbourne region, provides an opportunity for community members to contribute valuable ideas and gain insights into the work we do at Wellways. The group hosts guest speakers and invites the community’s attendance. Their recent end-of-year function included some celebrating for group member and Wellways participant Jessica Thomas, who had just completed her nursing degree. The first 2017 Community Consultation Group will meet on 24 February. For further details, phone (03) 9784 6800.

Marian’s masterpiece

Featuring 180,000 stitches and 105 different colours, a unique cross stitch piece of artwork, by PARC Bairnsdale program participant Marian, has won first prize in the Sale Art Show.  Marian says it took her two years, working on it nearly every day, to complete the beautiful piece of art. She began the work just before she first entered PARC, and continued with the elaborate design thereafter because “staff positively reinforced using it as a technique to cope with mental illness.” Marian wants to donate the artwork to the PARC program “out of gratitude”, noting that staff have been a big part of the reason she followed through with such a project. The PARC Bairnsdale program is a partnership with Latrobe Regional Hospital. For further information, or to discuss a potential referral, call (03) 4141 5380.

Peer-to-peer publishing

Wellways in Ballarat has run its hugely successful peer-to-peer publishing course four times in the past two years, producing stories, social commentary, profiles, poetry and even song lyrics. The course is designed to promote skill development for individuals with mental health issues, their families, friends and carers. The facilitator and participants shape the course according to ‘the skills in the room’, creating some beautiful writing in the process. A recent 15-minute writing exercise, Alphabet Poetry, involved creating a poem in which each line begins with consecutive letters of the alphabet. Some lines from ‘A – Z’ by Jewels Leigh are a wonderful example of the writing being generated: 

A time once long ago
Before the broken heart
Can you remember happiness and
Dancing in the dark?
Eternally I’d love you
Forever and a day
Graciously you loved me back
Holding me while we sway…

Paddle boarding passion

Wellways participants in the South East Melbourne region have been taking part in fortnightly stand-up paddle boarding sessions at Mothers Beach, Mornington, with guidance from paddle boarding school, SUP-FIT.

Since last year, the number of eager participants has risen steadily, together with their enjoyment and confidence.

“Arriving at a beautiful beach with some now-familiar faces gives me the courage to get out on the board,” says Cathy, a PHaMs participant.

“It was a little nerve-wracking at the start, but once I get my sea legs, I feel happy. I feel like this could be the sport, the passion for me. I think I can do this, I want to do this, I love to do this.”

After 90 minutes of paddle boarding, the group gathers for a BBQ and socialising.

“The friendship I feel when we all come together after the paddle, at the BBQ on the beach, is exciting, calming and reinforcing,” says Cathy.

The paddle boarding sessions continue to run fortnightly on Mondays until 17 April 2017. Contact Jarrah Brown on (03) 5986 0805 or 0437 596 418 for further information.

Good cheer in Hobart

Wellways Hobart participants, staff and families recently celebrated the New Year in a festive mood on a beautiful sunny day at Sandy Bay. A hearty BBQ lunch, art making, boule playing, and labyrinth walking put everyone in a positive New Year frame of mind. The much-anticipated annual event, organised by the Wellways team, always receives rave reviews from attendees.