Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR)
Workshops for women
Goomalling Aboriginal Corporation in the Wheatbelt region of Western Australia, used their $19,605 In a Good Place grant, funded by CCI Giving for their project called Maangart Yorga (Jam Tree Woman) – a workshop series delivered over the course of a year to impart both traditional and life skills to Aboriginal women and girls.
The program was created for Aboriginal women experiencing poverty, isolation, domestic violence and mental health concerns, and Aboriginal girls, from twelve years old, who are at risk. The program aimed to increase social participation by providing relevant and culturally appropriate workshops and a culturally safe space for connectedness. The workshops enabled the re-emergence of yarning circles and connection to Country that has helped foster relationships with young Aboriginal girls and Elders and provide an ongoing support network.
Maangart Yorga was an initiative to provide a safe space for women and girls to come together, learn, share and connect. Delivered through a series of workshops over a year, the aim was to increase participation in social activity, enhance the sense of community connectedness, improve outlook and help participants make healthier choices.
The workshops included a wide variety of traditional art, yoga and meditation, and health and wellbeing presentations. A series of practical skills sessions and workshops were held for women to have greater confidence, such as:
The organisation reported that participants would come to the workshop filled with apathy, tiredness or stressed, but always left feeling fulfilled and empowered after each workshop. The workshops provided a set of skills that can be transferred amongst the community.
While the workshop roll-out was interrupted by maternity leave for the program manager, the silver lining was that her leave coincided with movement restrictions due to COVID, so there was no additional impact from the pandemic.
Sadly, participation rates were lower than expected due to deaths in the community of two female elders and the suicide of two young Aboriginal men. Grieving periods were long and resulted in non-attendance from some members. For some members, the Maangart Yorga was a saving grace and gave them something positive to focus on.
Overall, 16 women participated across the program (including 2 non-Indigenous ladies), with a good cross section of ages from 21 years to 61 years old. Four female Aboriginal facilitators, three local female non-Indigenous facilitators, and two local female-owned food businesses also benefited from the project.
The greatest success of the program was providing a consistent and safe space for women to meet and yarn about their experience, which assisted healing and created lasting connections. The group plans to continue to meet monthly to use some of the skills they’ve learned and to continue connecting with each other. The Council is working with the Goomalling Aboriginal Corporation to create a permanent space for the women to take ownership of so they can create and share culture.
For many remote, rural and regional communities, drought has been impacting families and businesses for years. Even though it is not always covered in mainstream news, those living in certain parts of Australia know all too well what lasting effects drought can have. For many working in the agriculture industry, the thought of current and future drought can be a stressful and frightening prospect with crops and livestock often hit the hardest. However, in each of these communities there is a fighting spirit, often driven by community-led groups and not-for-profits (NFPs) that work hard to support the wider community.
One of these groups is the Gippsland Agricultural Group who are driven by achieving results for farmers in the south east region of Gippsland in Victoria. The organisation is made up of Central and East Gippsland farmers and service providers that have joined forces as people with the shared desire to improve productivity, profitability and sustainability using research, collaboration, product trails and demonstrations to communities in the area.
One example of how Gippsland Agricultural Group planned to achieve this was by holding multiple field days. The Gippsland ‘Connect and Prepare’ field days were designed to build a sense of place and connection for farmers. Research conducted shows that farmers are most comfortable learning from other farmers in informal settings such walking around a paddock talking or learning while doing. For Gippsland Agricultural Group, providing resources like easy access to agricultural service providers, mental health and financial support, as well as strategies and tactics and practical learning, are all key to strengthening preparedness and resilience to future drought events.
Using a $42,920 grant through the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund Networks to Build Drought Resilience program, Gippsland Agricultural Group held two farmer field days. Both days focused on farmer mental health and wellbeing by bringing health service providers to an environment where farmers are comfortable and feel they will be more likely to engage with services. Each day also featured key staff from other agricultural networks to encourage relationship development, project collaboration and sharing of ideas and resources. The first field day targeted producers, with a focus on networking and connecting with one another and relevant agriculture service providers.
While the field days are a great way to network and increase social interaction, the key purpose of the events is to build knowledge and skills with the estimated 200 producers, 15 agricultural agencies and service providers, and eight agricultural produce-led focus groups.
These events increased participant knowledge and understanding of the risks posed by drought by offering a program that shared information on climate variability. The events carried positive messaging about the resilience of regional producers focusing on practical, implementable drought preparedness solutions for everyday mum and dad farms.
In addition to funding the field days, the grant also enabled the installation of basic toilet facilities at a site frequently used for social and professional networking events. The community now has access to a space that supports educational, social and networking activities in a safe and hygienic space.
The close knit community of Quorn has been impacted by closure of local industrial businesses, prolonged drought, changes to lifestyle and isolation due to COVID-19, and recent deaths of long term residents. Service provider changes and short staffing had reduced available local support services. Things were seeming pretty bleak, so the town decided it was time to do something about it.
The Quorn Community Sporting Association requested funds to provide two free community events – one for the fellas and one for the ladies – providing an opportunity to come together, have a catered meal and listen to Stephanie Schmidt from ACT for Ag on building skills in psychological flexibility, gain some skills to help manage in times of stress, and take home some resources. While COVID-19 interrupted the original schedule, the events finally took place.
The Men’s Night Out was held on a Friday night at the new Quorn Pioneer Machinery Pavilion. The attendance of 93 men aged 10-96 exceeded expectation. All were able to enjoy the BBQ catering provided. The presentation was tailored for the men with plenty of opportunities for questions and conversation. A group of young Aboriginal men from the APY lands attended. They mentioned that they chose to come to the event as there weren’t any other events in the region. They engaged in the conversations and the presentation. Afterwards, Elders gave the following feedback:
‘The fellas had a great night thank you. We really need more of these nights for the area. We are also finding the lack of culturally appropriate services around and hope to network more with you all. We would love to do more and we can maybe host onsite where we are in the future.’
The next day, the Ladies High Tea took place at the Quorn Town Hall and was attended by 100 local women, including the local catering team. The hall was abuzz with conversation, whist cakes, sandwiches, tea and coffee were served in the good china! The ladies enjoyed their own tailored presentation from Stephanie which generated lots of questions and discussion.
Every participant at both events received an Act for Ag Toolkit which included an Act for Ag Handbook, Noticing Map notepad, Shared Purpose notepad, Values Cards and online resources to help build psychological flexibility and wellness.
Organisers received resounding positive feedback after both the events, with the community indicating they are very keen for more. The common theme from the feedback received was that the community valued was being connected with others in their community and looking out for each other.
$250,000 in grants awarded
FRRR’s In a Good Place (IAGP) program has awarded $250,000 in grants to 17 local organisations from remote, rural and regional Australia, for initiatives that will support and promote the mental health and wellbeing of locals in their communities.
Funded in partnership with CCI Giving, the IAGP program gives small rural communities across Australia the opportunity to access funds of up to $20,000 for community-driven projects that support vulnerable community members who are at risk of, or are experiencing, mental health issues. Since 2018, the IAGP program has helped to fund 70 mental health-focused projects across remote, rural and regional Australia.
This year, the 17 funded initiatives include community activities to help people feel connected, training to help people identify those who are at risk of harming themselves, mental health first aid courses, and one-on-one mentoring.
Jeremy Yipp, Chair of CCI Giving, said support for mental health projects is vital for effective recovery to take place.
“In this round, we saw a notable increase in the number of expressions of interest that referenced community recovery from the accumulative economic, social and emotional impacts of successive natural disasters and the pandemic.
“We’re in a crucial period of recovery and now is the time to support mental health initiatives in rural Australia and make sure that communities have the resources they need to recover from all that’s gone on in the last few years,” Mr Yipp said.
Jill Karena, FRRR’s People Programs Portfolio Lead, said that loneliness is prevalent across rural communities and that many people are feeling disconnected from their community.
“In the applications for this round, we read about a lot of projects explicitly addressing loneliness and social isolation. For example, in the Queensland community of Stanthorpe, Happy Chat Peer Support Group will use a $20,000 grant to expand the organisation and provide facilitated support to vulnerable community members living with mental illness, helping to reduce their social isolation and loneliness, and to provide access to meaningful community-based activities.
“There is a clear need for social connection within remote, rural and regional communities and we’re grateful for our continued partnership with CCI Giving, as it allows us to provide much needed funding to help combat the loneliness we’re seeing in communities throughout rural Australia,” Ms Karena said.
Some of the 17 initiatives being funded include:
- Community Housing – Kempsey, NSW – Treasured Insights (Mental Health – Inside Out Recovery) – Build the capacity of community housing staff and tenants to understand hording and domestic squalor disorders to assist recovery and improve the lives of vulnerable people living in social housing. $14,588
- Sisters of Charity Community Care – Toowoomba, QLD – Dragonfly Health & Wellness Retreat – Enhance the mental health and wellbeing of rural women by providing a three-day retreat to enable participants to connect, learn self-care, and seek support. $11,000
- Yankalilla Youth Arts – Yankalilla, SA – Sunday Sessions – Provide a creative and nurturing space for young people to engage in guided arts and theatre-based activities, with the presence of a counsellor and support therapy dog to support mental health and wellbeing. $12,260
- Goulburn Valley Suicide Awareness Group Inc – Yea, VIC – GVSAG Walk and Talk – Support the local community to connect and develop trusted relationships that create greater understanding of mental health issues and address the stigma surrounding suicide by upskilling volunteers, establishing facilitated support groups and holding a suicide awareness walk. $20,000
- Enterprise Partnerships WA Limited – Balgo, WA – Piriwa Wellbeing Project – Develop individual resilience, confidence, group leadership and planning skills through intergenerational activities and regular yarning circles to strengthen cultural identity, self-agency and mental wellbeing of Aboriginal women in a remote community. $20,000
To support grants like this through FRRR, make a tax-deductible donation at https://frrr.org.au/giving/.
The full list of grant recipients and their projects are below.
|In a Good Place - Round 7 - 2023|
|NEW SOUTH WALES|
|Community Housing Limited||Treasured Insights (Mental Health - Inside Out Recovery)|
Build the capacity of community housing staff and tenants to understand hording and domestic squalor disorders to assist recovery and improve the lives of vulnerable people living in social housing.
|Key Assets The Children's Services Provider|
NI-Connect Child and Family Wellbeing Unit
|Norfolk Island Youth Centre Project|
Providing basic furnishings and equipment to facilitate the development of a local youth focused space promoting mental health and wellbeing and providing access to preventive and supportive programs.
|Narrabri & District Community Aid Service Incorporated||R U OK Day and Suicide Prevention Business Evening|
Increase community awareness of mental health and reduce the stigma associated with help seeking behaviour by providing a community event with a guest speaker and take home resources.
|Queer Family Inc||Resourcing Our Youth|
Increase community understanding and improve the confidence of young queer people to respond to homo/transphobia through the development and distribution of posters and local LGBTQIA+ mental health resources.
|Rotary Club of Iluka Woombah Incorporated||Mental Health Warriors: Building Resilient Preteens|
Cultivate confidence and resilience in primary school children by supporting the development and delivery of a locally facilitated program to enhance student social and emotional wellbeing.
|Southern Women's Group Incorporated||Recovery Sanctuary|
Support the development of facilitated creative workshops and provision of materials to enable trauma informed workshops to take place in a safe and appropriate environment, supporting mental health, wellbeing and trauma recovery for women.
|Little Sparklers Ltd||Mental Health First Aid Training for Peer Support Volunteers and Volunteer Leaders|
Increase the knowledge and skills of rural-based peer volunteers, and increase the capacity of the organisation, by enabling Mental Health First Aid and Instructor training for those who provide phone crisis support for families during the postnatal period.
|Sisters of Charity Community Care Limited||Dragonfly Health & Wellness Retreat|
Enhance the mental health and wellbeing of rural women by providing a three day retreat to enable participants to connect, learn self-care, and seek support.
|Support Groups Queensland Inc|
Happy Chat Mental Health Peer Support Group
|Happy Chat Mental Health Peer Support Stanthorpe - Building a Safe and Happy Place for People with a Lived Experience of Mental Ill Health|
Increase the capacity of a peer support group to expand and provide facilitated support to vulnerable community members living with mental illness to reduce social isolation, and to provide access to meaningful community based activities and nutritious food.
|Tumby Bay Area School||Tumby Bay Area School G.E.M. Festival|
Build knowledge of, and community engagement with, the Gratitude, Empathy, Mindfulness (GEM) personal resilience initiative through a school based community event to highlight positive mental health and wellbeing.
|Yankalilla Youth Arts Incorporated||Sunday Sessions|
Provide a creative and nurturing space for young people to engage in guided arts and theatre based activities, with the presence of a counsellor and support therapy dog to support mental health and wellbeing.
|Highways and Byways Ltd|
Support isolated, vulnerable and disadvantaged young women to be confident and resilient through a one to one tailored mentoring program.
|Castlemaine Safe Space Inc||Strengthen and Grow the Castlemaine Safe Space|
Increase organisational capacity and community awareness of available local mental health and social support by providing mental health training for lived experienced volunteers and increased promotion of the Castlemaine Safe Space.
|Goulburn Valley Suicide Awareness Group Inc||GVSAG Walk and Talk|
Support the local community to connect and develop trusted relationships that create greater understanding of mental health issues and address the stigma surrounding suicide by upskilling volunteers, establishing facilitated support groups and holding a suicide awareness walk.
|HALT Hope Assistance Local Tradies||Older Adults Matter Too|
Increase the capacity and confidence of local community groups to better understand what a developing mental health problem or crisis looks like in older males and to have the skills and confidence to offer help-seeking information in an effort to reduce the incidences of suicide.
|Enterprise Partnerships WA Limited||Piriwa Wellbeing Project|
Develop individual resilience, confidence, group leadership and planning skills through intergenerational activities and regular yarning circles to strengthen cultural identity, self-agency and mental wellbeing of Aboriginal women in a remote community.
|Newdegate Community Resource Centre Inc||Men's BBQ Masterclass Workshop|
Enable men living in two farming districts to come together through a BBQ cooking demonstration and shared meal to hear a mental health presentation designed to reduce isolation and encourage open discussion about the importance of mental health self-care.
Mission Australia has worked in partnership with Mid Coast 4 Kids to deliver ‘The Common Approach’ training to build capability for a whole of community response to child youth wellbeing in the Mid Coast region.
The Mid Coast was dramatically impacted by the South Eastern Australia floods in 2022. The townships of Taree, Wingham and Gloucester were inundated or compromised with flood waters and structural damage cutting communities off for long periods. There was flood damage to farm lands, residential housing areas and outlying communities. This disaster compounded significant stress that has been experienced in the communities for an extended period due to the impact of prolonged drought, COVID-19 and bushfires.
As a result, early childhood centres and schools reported increased anxiety and trauma-related behaviours in children and young people, and the service system was not coping, with allied health and other support services reporting wait times of more than 12 months.
‘The Common Approach’ has equipped a range of members of the Mid Coast community with the skills to have quality conversations and build resilience to respond to the wellbeing needs of children, young people and their families, now and into the future. In total, 228 people including community service, health and education professionals, community volunteers and parents were trained to have evidence based, holistic conversations with children and young people about all aspects of their wellbeing.
Participants report increased confidence in being able to support children and young people to identify strategies to improve individual wellbeing. “Through this intervention we have equipped our community to share responsibility for promoting and supporting the health and wellbeing of children and young people in our community, via evidence informed practice,” says Program Manager Bree Katsamangos.
“Additionally, practitioners will benefit from the opportunity to engage in a bi-monthly Community of Practice to support ongoing development and practice.”
The community group I’m Not Afraid To Talk (INATT) partnered with the University of South Australia (UniSA) to deliver a mental wellbeing program through Greater Flinders and Eastern Eyre football leagues / clubs to help adolescent and adult men in rural communities to improve their mental health and reduce the risk of suicide.
Working around COVID restrictions, cancellation of the football season, harvesting and extreme weather events, workshops were held in Kimba, Tumby Bay and Cowell, with a joint follow up session via Zoom. The workshops were supported by a $19,900 In a Good Place grant that was funded by CCI Giving.
Each four-hour workshop featured local key speakers sharing their lived experienced, followed by a series of activities that focused on how men may be perceived by others and how they perceive themselves, share experiences, and the importance of ongoing open conversations about mental health. A Toolkit Resource was collaboratively developed by UniSA and INATT after the workshops to guide clubs in planning activities to promote mental wellbeing.
The steps and strategies listed in the resource are based on community development principles and give clubs ideas on how to get started with planning mental wellbeing activities. This was introduced during the follow up session and made available to each group.
Due to the changes to the program, there was an underspend of funds. With the permission of FRRR, INATT ran an additional workshop for women in Kimba. This was a great success with approximately 80 women attending from Kimba and surrounding communities.
The workshops were the greatest success of this project as was evident by the high praise received by participants. The workshops assisted in improving attitudes towards mental health and help seeking. Participants also reported an increase in confidence and comfort in discussing mental health. Some of the comments included:
- “Mental health discussion rarely starts without a major poke”.
- “Probably will never be comfortable to do this but more equipped to have a go”.
- “Eye opening and is going to help myself and community”.
- “Very well done to get tough blokes thinking and talking”.
- “We don’t have many supports, apart from each other at the moment”.
- “Reassuring to know you not alone, great advice on how to deal with mental health”.
- “Was a great night, confronting at times but that made it so worthwhile and a good laugh at the end”.
The achievements of this project have been numerous with the strengths of both collaborators on this grant put to best use. INATT has extremely strong links with the Greater Flinders and Eastern Eyre communities which was evident by their excellent leadership and facilitation of the workshops and the level of attendance.
Grants up to $20,000 on offer
Remote, rural and regional communities across Australia can apply now for grants up to $20,000 for community-driven mental health and wellbeing projects, through FRRR’s In a Good Place (IAGP) program.
Community groups are invited to apply for up to $20,000 to support activities that empower locals to talk, connect, learn, participate and foster help-seeking behaviours.
FRRR and CCI Giving are offering $250,000 in IAGP grants, a boost of $50,000 on prior grant rounds, thanks to a new five-year partnership.
Jeremy Yipp, CCI General Manager, General Insurance Claims and Chair of CCI Giving, said that since partnering with FRRR in 2018, CCI Giving has seen the direct impact made to 53 mental health-focused projects funded across remote, rural and regional Australia.
“Seed funding is critical for the smaller community projects so that they can develop a proof of concept for their activity model and see what works and what doesn’t, and why. Without assistance from grant programs, such as In a Good Place, these projects may never have the opportunity to really get off the ground and reach their full potential,” Mr Yipp explained.
Jill Karena, FRRR’s People Programs Portfolio Lead, said that, now in its sixth year, the In A Good Place program continues to provide vital funding to support the mental health and wellbeing of communities across remote, rural and regional Australia.
“Projects funded through the In a Good Place program typically bring people together, sometimes to heal, always to learn.
“The program has a definite and important role to play in supporting rural communities in reducing the stigma surrounding mental health and help-seeking behaviours. It helps to bring mental health and wellbeing out in the open – making it OK to talk about and OK to reach out and ask for help,” Ms Karena said.
Applications opened on 12 April 2023. There is a two-stage application process. To get started, a brief Expression of Interest must be submitted no later than 5pm AEST, Wednesday 17 May 2023. Full details are available on FRRR’s website – https://frrr.org.au/in-a-good-place/. Applicants can also call 1800 170 020.
According to Beyond Blue, one in seven Australians will experience depression in their lifetime. For people living in remote, rural and regional areas, access to adequate physical and mental health care can be tricky. In fact, getting people to talk about mental health issues can be just as hard as finding the appropriate support.
Organisations like Active Farmers are working hard to breakdown the stigma surrounding mental health and raise awareness and understanding of the benefits of regular exercise and healthy eating. One way they do this is by hosting events like the Active Farmers Games.
In 2019, the inaugural Active Farmers event was held in NSW, and again the following year. Both events were a total success with people travelling from all over the country to attend. Post-event feedback strongly endorsed running it again, but suggested it should head to Western Australia.
The small town of Torbay, located in the Great Southern region, was selected to host the Games. The region is dominated by farmland, which produces livestock, dairy, wool and grows crops. Known as one of the most productive cereal grain and pastoral areas of the state, they have also been severely impacted by drought, bushfires and of course COVID-19. On top of this, the population of the Great Southern area of WA is predominantly aged over 50 years, with the proportion of adults aged over 65 years projected to increase by 54% over the next five years. For people in this age group, physical health concerns can often be managed by regular physical activity and exercise. This demographic also has a large population that lives in regional Australia, where they may lack access to health and wellness services due to remoteness.
The one-day event involved traversing a 3.5km farm-inspired obstacle course (think hay bales, tyre stacking and fence climbing!). The aim was to raise awareness of the importance of physical and mental health and to promote connectedness in the bush. The course was designed to symbolise real life obstacles and how we are able to better overcome these obstacles if we have a team of people around us.
In total, there were 30 obstacles that 150 participants had a go at. There were three teams that consisted of men, women and children. The course was designed to accommodate everyone with the youngest participant being six years old and the oldest participant in their 70s. The event was also a tremendous show of community participation with 40 volunteers to help things run smoothly and another 90 spectators who came to cheer the participants along.
Using a $6,340 Strengthening Rural Communities (SRC) grant, funded by FRRR, Active Farmers were able to host a successful event that fostered a strong sense of connection and joy within the community and surrounding areas.
They were also able to raise much needed funds to establish the Active Farmers group fitness classes in up to six additional locations in WA. Check out this fantastic video that showcases the day’s activities.
The population of the District Council of Yankalilla is 5,500, spread across 750 square kilometres within 10 small townships. Some families are geographically isolated, farmers are doing it tough and there are a number of people who are struggling with low income, drug and alcohol issues, as well as family violence. There are not many opportunities for work and no public transport options for those who don’t have a car. While some support services are available in the community, most are outreach and not located in the district. In general, anxiety levels are higher than normal across the population groups. COVID fears and restrictions have added to this anxiety. Community members who are struggling usually want to connect with someone in their district to talk things over and find out what support is available.
The Council’s plan was ambitious – establish the Fleurieu Coast Community Network (FCCN) to foster help-seeking practices and build community connectedness and strength, with a focus of improving mental health. They successfully applied for a $9,000 In a Good Place grant from FRRR, funded by CCI Giving, to launch their plan to engage a coordinator who could provide the ‘first point of contact’ role and upskill community champions to expand the service across the district.
On paper, it was straight forward – set up a network of service agencies and community organisations, create a calendar of events focused on mental health and wellbeing messages, host informal community conversations and support community leaders, by providing them with mental health and wellbeing training. What they didn’t expect was COVID and local restrictions, which changed the planning and execution of all elements of the project plan. But each hurdle was successfully negotiated.
Meetings to form the Fleurieu Coast Community Network (FCCN) were held in a blended format. They received excellent feedback and became very popular within the sector. The Network is now well established, with high levels of information sharing and collaboration across the core group of about 22 organisations, which includes more than 70 service providers, businesses, local agencies and individuals who receive regular updates on FCCN activities and come together to connect, identify community issues and mobilise resources to provide information, advice, support and training.
The original concept of an event calendar was very time consuming to deliver and was not engaging as many people as the organisers had hoped. A decision was made to embed the events and activities within the Council’s web-based calendar and event information is also shared in digital flyer format through the Network emails.
Community conversations were held bi-monthly. This group was facilitated by Skylight Mental Health and themes discussed included community wellbeing during COVID and suicide prevention support. As a result of these conversations and other events, 14 individuals registered as Community Leaders; people who could be called upon by local community members when they needed information or just a friendly conversation. They are seen as a stand-by informal ‘Crisis Response’ group – people who are willing to do what is needed when the situation arises. So far, there has been a food delivery response for people isolated due to COVID or anxiety about COVID, as well as informal support for low income parents.
Because of travel restrictions, the planned community presentations and training offered had to be redesigned. The Network partnered with Country SA Primary Health Network to conduct the Fleurieu Coast Wellbeing Expo, which was very well attended by locals. They also supported the local Gone Fishing Day, which focused on mental health and was attended by more than 80 people; Lullabies of the Fleurieu 2022 for parents engaged over 100 people; No Scaredy Cats for Parents supported 10 families with children experiencing anxiety; and the Now and Next Program for parents of children with a disability.
Excitingly, the Council funded the program from 1 January to 30 June 2022, due to the successful pilot and the impressive involvement from service providers and Community Leaders. This allowed the Project Officer to sustain the momentum and goodwill of the FCCN and facilitate Accidental Counselling Training for Community Leaders.
Claire Taylor from the District Council of Yankalilla said, “This grant has been so influential in assisting our Community Team to establish and consolidate the Fleurieu Coast Community Network. It allowed us to demonstrate that the Network is truly valuable in a small regional district where we have to rely on good connections and relationships to maximise the access to services for our residents.”
Huon Valley council acknowledges Traditional Custodians of the South East Nation, the Melukerdee people of the Huon River and the Lyluequonny people of the Far South.
Following a number of suicides in the Huon Valley in southwest Tasmania, the community indicated an interest in learning more about mental health and how to best support a family member, friend or colleague who may be struggling with their mental health.
With the help of a $9,255 grant through the In a Good Place program, supported by CCI Giving, the Mental Health Community Response project was initiated. Its goal was to build capacity in the Huon Valley to respond to and prevent suicide and promote mental health through the delivery of mental health first aid training to community members and groups. By providing the tools, community members could better understand and support members of the local community who may be self-harming or suicidal.
The Huon Valley Council took on a project coordination role, working closely with the Rural Alive and Well program, to reduce the stigma of suicide by promoting events widely across the community, encouraging conversations about mental health. They also ran three 12-hour Mental Health First Aid programs across some of the smaller communities in the Huon Valley, as well as delivering two self-injury focused workshops to community members struggling to support family members who self-harm.
The Huon Valley Council’s contribution was significant, as participants appreciated being able to complete the training at an affordable cost and within their own local community. COVID posed several challenges, with the delivery of training delayed, as it was agreed that face-to-face sessions were important, given the nature of the training.
Communities and individuals in the Huon Valley are now better equipped to support each other, their community, family members and colleagues dealing with serious mental health issues such as self-harm or suicidal ideation. Community networks were built and reinforced by the project. At the completion of the project, participants had the confidence and resilience to share stories and have conversations in a secure and inclusive environment, to further reduce barriers associated with discussing mental health and suicide.
For more inspiring stories like this, head to our FY 2021/22 Annual Review.