Spotlight on Tasmania


Health literacy project in Tasmania

Wellways was invited by the Tasmania Council of Social Services to participate in a health literacy project, involving up to 10 health and mental health organisations throughout the state, to explore how services and information can be made more accessible for better public health outcomes. 

Funded by Primary Health Tasmania, in partnership with the University of Tasmania, DHHS and 26Ten, the project focused on how to communicate key messages clearly by “dropping the jargon for better health outcomes” and developing effective resources, such as the Health Literacy Learning Organisations (HeLLO Tas!) toolkit

“It’s so important that Wellways has user-friendly information and communications,” says Wellways Intentional Peer Support Worker Kathy O’Brien, who participated in the initiative.

“It’s not about treating people as though they wouldn’t understand, but more about making ourselves easily accessible for our participants to navigate all services.”

Research in Tasmania has shown that two in three people don’t have the level of health literacy needed to make health decisions and manage their wellbeing. Tim Henry, Wellways Northern Area Manager, indicated that the health literacy project was a good opportunity to make sure that Wellways was “walking the talk” and reaching Tasmanians in need. 

Wellways Tasmania wins 2017 Dorothies Award

The Wellways Tasmanian offices recently received the 2017 Dorothies Award in recognition of excellence in the provision of inclusive practice to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex, and other gender and sexuality diverse (LGBTI) Tasmanians.

This year’s theme was Mental Health Practice, and the Wellways submission drew upon its delivery of mental health services in Burnie, Launceston and Hobart, in addition to its community inclusion policies, frameworks and Well Proud initiative.

Charles Anderson, Intentional Peer Worker, accepted the award on behalf of Wellways at the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) Breakfast in Hobart. Other attendees included members of State Parliament, the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner, LGBTI individuals, service providers and allies. 

“Having the plaque on display in each office is a great reminder to our participants that we are a safe and inclusive place,” says Charles. 

“It is a further point of difference for Wellways, as we are the only provider of mental health services to hold the award.”

Grassroots funding extended

Funding for the Grassroots Mental Health Project in Tasmania, a partnership between Neighbourhood Houses Tasmania and Wellways, has been extended to June 2021 in the state budget. The project supports 34 Neighbourhood Houses by taking a ‘grassroots approach’ to mental health: helping people to learn how to maintain good mental health, to understand mental illness and reduce stigma.

Wellways Grassroots workers, Allan Johnson in the North and North West, and Kelly Madden in the South, have worked intensively to support the Neighbourhood Houses in delivering training to staff, volunteers and community members in the initial three-year period of the project. In 2016 alone, Understanding Mental Health and Mental Illness training workshops were delivered to 233 staff, volunteers and community members at 25 Neighbourhood Houses across Tasmania, the Creating Spaces and Places that Support Mental Wellbeing review process, undertaken with each Neighbourhood House, has informed the development of new strategies, including the development of a ‘toolkit’ that will become an important resource for supporting mental wellbeing.

The extension of funding was welcome news to all who have been involved in the project since its inception.

“Although communities visited can be quite small and isolated, there is a strong sense of identity and social investment in the community to work with,” says Grassroots worker Allan Johnson, who sometimes travels enormous distances between Neighbourhood Houses in the North and North West regions of Tasmania. 

“This makes the role so rewarding, challenging and energising, something that keeps me feeling connected to the work.”

Launceston carer lunch

The Launceston Family Services team recently hosted a carers’ lunch featuring a guest speaker from Autism Tasmania, who provided an overview of their services, answered questions about autism, and invited carers to connect with their services. The luncheon event provided an opportunity for carers to have a chat, share stories and experience peer support. The isolation that many carers feel, and the lack of natural social supports, mean that many carers do not socialise or have limited interaction with others.

“As a worker, this is one of the most pleasing aspects of my role—witnessing carers who are isolated become connected with others,” says Kathy Jury, Launceston Family Services worker.