Showcasing: Western Sydney Recovery College

Western Sydney 

Lead agency
One Door Mental Health and Western Sydney Primary Health Network

Living Well domain

  • Putting people first 
  • Care for all 

Program overview

Western Sydney Recovery College is an innovative approach to inclusive education and recovery within the community and mental health sector. The College follows the international recovery college model1 utilising a collaborative, community driven model of adult education where all programs delivered by the College are co-produced. Co-production is a process where people with lived experience of mental health issues and people with a professional mental health background co-design and co-deliver educational programs.

The service is funded by the Western Sydney Primary Health Network and has been delivered by One Door Mental Health since mid-2017. 


Recovery involves more than clinical support. Developing individual skills including relapse prevention plans and understanding your own mental health can greatly assist people to self-manage their mental health and wellbeing whilst living in the community. The Recovery College approach supports people to learn about their mental health, understand treatment options and assists in the development of individual coping mechanisms based on individual strengths to assist in preventing relapse of mental health symptoms. 


The Recovery College model takes a different approach to clinical based care, by building on a person’s strengths, increasing their understanding of mental health and building resilience. The program is delivered in an educative class room style approach rather than a one on one or group therapy intervention 2. The One Door Western Sydney Recovery College provides this service across Western Sydney and more recently has partnered with the Local Health District (LHD) to deliver a short course to people receiving inpatient care at Cumberland Hospital.

The College began by running a suite of taster workshops to people with a lived experience of mental health issues at Cumberland Hospital, offering a one-hour workshop on a monthly basis. 



Through support from the LHD and clinical staff at Cumberland Hospital, the College has run 13 courses for 159 people and continues to develop new workshops that are tailored to supporting the recovery of people with lived experience of mental health issues who are inpatients of the hospital. The College has also partnered with Toongabbie Sports and Bowling Club to deliver Recovery College workshops for the club’s members. This included an “Understanding Anxiety” workshop in February 2018 to 32 people, most of whom were of retirement age.

This partnership shows that the College has the ability to deliver mental health recovery programs in non-traditional settings and shows the importance of the Recovery College as a provider of mental health education to the wider community.


The College also supports communities (including refugees) within the region from non-English speaking backgrounds through the delivery of courses in other languages e.g. Arabic. These courses are supported with resources that are translated into Arabic with English text alongside so participants can not only participate in the course content but also enhance their English skills.

Next steps

The work of the Recovery College continues to benefit a range of people who experience mental health issues and/or distress and provides a valuable addition to clinical care. One Door Mental Health, with the support of key partners across health and community, will continue to deliver the Recovery College program and continue to explore other potential opportunities to further educate and support the community. 

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1Perkins, R., Repper, J., Rinaldi, M. and Brown, H., 2012. Recovery Colleges: Implementing Recovery through Organisational Change, Briefing Paper 1.

2McGregor, J., Repper, J. and Brown, H., 2014. “The college is so different from anything I have done”. A study of the characteristics of Nottingham Recovery College. The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, 9(1), pp.3-15.