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The Awards are a sector-wide initiative coordinated by the Mental Health Community Coalition ACT, ACT Mental Health Consumer Network and Carers ACT, and acknowledges the exceptional people and initiatives working to promote and improve understanding, awareness, service provision, and the mental health and wellbeing of the Canberra community.

The COPE program was awarded the Enhancing the Lives of Individuals, Families and Carers Award, recognising the program’s group support and self-guided initiatives for men and women who are unpaid, informal carers for Canberrans with mental health issues.

COPE program coordinator Joanne Smith said the COPE team were extremely proud of the supports they provide to the program’s participants and were humbled by the award and community recognition.

“COPE works with family members and carers of people who are experiencing mental health issues and are currently participating in a Wellways program,” said Ms Smith.

“Cope supports monthly information sessions, assists with creating our self-guided groups, called Mystery Women and Mystery Men and one-on-one meetings with carers to discuss referral opportunities and advocacy, while providing practical assistance.

“Our Mystery groups meet regularly in a social setting to share experiences and chat within a safe space amongst people with familiar experiences.

“Providing a safe space for informal carers who often don’t have someone to turn to is an important part of what the COPE program tries to achieve.

“Significantly, the concept of safe spaces provides a valuable peer-led model for conducting meaningful and productive conversations amongst carers,” said Ms Smith.

COPE program support worker Fiona Brown accepted the award on behalf of Wellways and the COPE team in a ceremony presided over by His Excellency His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd) Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia.