TasPride, Doorway and EPHaMs success stories, and Wellways recognised for being a community role model…it’s been a bumper month in our regions! Don’t forget, you can find upcoming events near you in our new What’s On section.

Wellways awarded Viva Energy grant

Wellways has been awarded a Viva Energy Role Model Grant in the inaugural grants round of Viva Energy’s new community program, Jigsaw. The goal of the Jigsaw program is to facilitate positive social change. Viva Energy Role Model Grants are awarded to organisations addressing one of three significant challenges identified by people in the community: mental illness, substance abuse, and breaking the poverty cycle through education. The Wellways submission, evaluated by Viva Energy’s Community Ambassadors, addressed the delivery of new opportunities, for people with mental health challenges, in their recovery journey.

Board appointment to Mental Health Council of Tasmania

Wellways Tasmania regional manager, John Edwards, has been appointed to the board of the Mental Health Council of Tasmania, the peak body representing the Tasmanian community-managed mental health sector at a state and national level.

Originally from the UK, John has been living in Northern Tasmania since 2003 and has held a range of leadership positions. He has enjoyed a varied career in the community sector, working in the areas of mental health, disability, alcohol and other drugs, and child, youth and family focused services. He holds formal tertiary qualifications in psychology, counselling and management. John is dedicated to playing a part in shaping the services required for the future in Tasmania and improving the mental health of all Tasmanians.

“Having personal experience of mental illness within my family, I have an appreciation of what happens for families and individuals when mental illness is present, and the lengths that families will go to support and cope,” he says.

Wellways congratulates John on his appointment.

Wellways joins in TasPride festival

Ulverstone, Tasmania, was the setting for Wellways’ participation in ‘Out in the Park’, a major community event in the statewide TasPride festival, now in its third year. Some 200 people attended the LGBTIQ cultural event, which included live music, community stalls, children’s activities, and much “laughter and love”, according to the local newspaper.

Wellways peer worker, Charlie Anderson, and Partners in Recovery staffer, Sharon Wood, were on hand at the Wellways Well Proud stand and festival areas, talking with festival-goers about mental health, our organisation’s work, and issues affecting the LGBTIQ community. Charlie is the chair of North West Tasmania’s LGBTIQ working group, for service providers, which develops LGBTIQ cultural competency across agencies.

Minds Do Matter travelling art exhibition

Artists in front of their paintings

Selected works from the Wellways Minds Do Matter art exhibition in Southern Tasmania have been travelling and dazzling visitors to West Winds Community Centre in Woodbridge and Dunalley Neighbourhood House. The Rural Art Roadshow, a collaboration between Wellways and the University of Tasmania Centre for Rural Health, aims to provide positive directions for reducing stigma surrounding mental illness in rural communities. This is the first time the annual event has occurred in Southern Tasmania, formerly taking place in the North and North West. Tasmania’s Grassroots Mental Health Project, which supports the state’s 34 neighbourhood houses to build a better and more effective response for people experiencing mental health issues, is a part of the Rural Art Roadshow. The exhibitions have featured talks by the artists, creative workshops and an official launch at each location by the town’s mayor.

Celebrating achievements

Frankston and Rosebud participants, families, friends, carers and staff recently gathered at Mornington Pavilion to celebrate the year’s achievements and hard work. Delighted Wellways staff have shared with us two good news stories, one about a Doorway (housing and support program) participant, and the other a participant in the Personal Helpers and Mentors (PHaMs) employment program.

The Doorway participant started with the program in 2015, keen to pursue full-time study to become a nurse. She became fully qualified late this year, completed her placement at St Vincent’s Hospital, and demonstrated such a strong work ethic that she was offered a job. She has since exited the Doorway program and found new accommodation, skilfully handling all the necessary arrangements.

“If it weren’t for the Doorway program, I don’t know where I’d be today,” she said.

The EPHaMS participant, who had experienced depression, anxiety and agoraphobia, received regular visits from her support worker, who assisted the participant to explore her local community, get to know the businesses there, and approach those where she was interested in working. The participant has a great interest in second-hand books and said that one day her dream was to own her own second-hand bookstore. She has now been accepted into a small business program to embark on her dream.

Well Proud ready for Midsumma

Well Proud will be marching again at the 2017 Midsumma Pride March along Fitzroy Street in Melbourne’s St Kilda on 29 January 2017, with a picnic in the park and banner making beforehand. Midsumma runs from 15 to 29 January 2017 and brings together a diverse mix of artists and performers for a celebration of queer arts and culture. The Well proud network of Wellways staff and volunteers, who identify as Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer, and their friends, family and allies, are passionate about supporting the mental health and wellbeing of GLBTIQ people.

  • Pride March: Sunday 29 January 2017, 2pm, Fitzroy Street, St Kilda
  • Picnic and banner making beforehand: 12–1.30pm
  • Location: Corner Lakeside Drive/end of Fitzroy Street, look for the Well Proud banners

SMART recovery focused website

Swinburne University and Wellways, in partnership with mental health workers, consumers and carers, have developed SMART (Self-Management and Recovery Technology), a recovery focused website for individuals who have experienced psychosis. Users of the SMART website can access a range of resources, including videos of people with lived experience of mental health issues discussing different aspects of their recovery journeys, as well as interactive activities and downloads. Consumers can also get connected with other users via the website’s moderated social networking forum and comment feeds.

If you are over 18 and have experienced psychosis, visit the SMART website. To find out more about participation, please contact the SMART research team on (03) 9214 4476 or email smartonline@swin.edu.au.

Let’s Talk: a step towards inclusion

Wellways Gippsland Partners in Recovery program recently facilitated a half-day training, Let’s Talk about Children, developed at Finland’s National Institute of Health and Welfare for families where a parent has a mental illness. The Let’s Talk method, currently under trial in Australia with support from the Mental Illness Research Fund grant, trains professionals to have collaborative conversations about parenting, identifying areas of growth for parents with mental illness. The training focus includes identifying strengths and vulnerabilities in children as individuals, their relationship to their caregivers in home and school environments, building resilience, and creating accepting and welcoming communities. The training was attended by other key health services in the Gippsland region, all committed to an integrated family support approach for parents with mental health issues.

Wellways implements Safewards

Wellways’ Prevention and Recovery Care (PARC) service in Bairnsdale, in partnership with Latrobe Regional Hospital, is implementing a new model of care called Safewards, which is designed to reduce conflict and containment in acute adult mental health inpatient units. Participants in PARC come from either a stay in the acute psychiatric inpatient unit (step down) or from the community when it has been identified that their mental state is deteriorating (step up). Some of the Safeward interventions are being implemented as a way to improve the continuity between the acute psychiatric inpatient unit at Latrobe Regional Hospital and the PARC Service. Two of the interventions being used at the PARC are the ‘discharge messages’ tree (messages of hope left on decorative tree leaves) and the ‘know each other’ staff profiles (short bios and a photo to help participants get to know staff).

For more information about Safewards, go to their website or for PARC Bairnsdale, contact Brad Jones on 0439 144 251 or email bjones1@wellways.org.

Grassroots showcased at TasCOSS conference

Wellways Grassroots program, supporting the neighbourhood house network across Tasmania, was recently showcased at the Tasmania Council of Social Service conference in Hobart. The biennial conference brings together Tasmania’s community services sector to discuss issues that affect families, communities, workplaces and government.

The Grassroots presentation and workshop highlighted how peer leadership has been integral to the development and delivery of the Creating Spaces and Places that Support Mental Health Wellbeing toolkit. The toolkit assists neighbourhood houses to be more inclusive of people living with mental illness and their families. Development of the toolkit is part of the second year of the three-year Grassroots project.

The conference workshop invited delegates, in small groups, to reflect on their workplace readiness to effectively support consumers, staff or visitors who may be experiencing mental ill health. Delegates were asked to take back to their workplaces an idea that was feasible and to champion it in their workplace.

YCLSS team linking to the community

The Wellways Youth Community Living Support Service (YCLSS) team, based in Ballina, NSW, has recently attended numerous community and professional events, including the opening of the Lismore Base Hospital redevelopment, with NSW Premier Mike Baird and Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley in attendance, the annual Northern NSW branch conference of the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses, with NSW Mental Health Commissioner John Feneley as a keynote speaker, and the Northern NSW Local Health District Community Engagement Advisory Committee Conference, with Wellways peer worker Leisa Hoffman presenting on the North Coast Primary Health Network’s Mental Health Integration Plan. Leisa was recently nominated for the Northern NSW Local Hospital District Volunteer Award, for her valued input into their committees.