Commission staff travelled to the Clarence Valley and Orange this month to get an update on local mental health issues and initiatives and hear from community members.
NSW Mental Health Commissioner John Feneley and Commission staff travelled to Grafton on 10-11 May to learn about Our Healthy Clarence, a local initiative that aims to improve mental health and wellbeing in the Clarence Valley area. The initiative was born in 2016 out of community members’ concerns about poor mental health, in particular youth suicide.
Mr Feneley and Commission staff met with Our Healthy Clarence Steering Committee members to hear about their goals, progress and barriers in rolling out the initiative. Committee members from Clarence Valley Council, the Department of Education, the Local Health District and local mental health and community services such as Cranes and New Horizons were among those who participated in the discussion.
Mr Feneley and staff also met with mental health services and community members based in Grafton. This included a morning presentation from Clarence Youth Action group about their efforts to help young people in Grafton feel more connected and supported, and an afternoon tea with staff from Clarence Community Mental Health and members of Light Up the Darkness advocacy group.
On 17-18 May, NSW Deputy Mental Health Commissioners Karen Burns and Catherine Lourey travelled to Orange with Commission staff. The Commission met with a wide range of service providers including headspace, TAFE, the Primary Health Network and LikeMind. They discussed the Pathways to Community Living Initiative (PCLI) with the Local Health District’s Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol service; visited Catholic HealthCare St Francis age care facility to hear about the successes and challenges in transitioning some of the PCLI patients to their facility; and walked through some of the inpatient units at Bloomfield Hospital.
The Commission team also caught up with local mayor John Davis and Orange City Council’s Community Services Director Scott Maunder to discuss suicide prevention and community resilience, and attended a forum about youth mental health. The latter was organised by the Local Health District and attended by twenty five people from a variety of services.
To meet individuals and families in Orange with lived experience of mental illness, the Commission hosted an afternoon tea at Orange Ex Services Club. Approximately 55 people came to share with the Commission their personal journeys and experiences of the mental health system.
The Commission wishes to thank all individuals, families and services who made time to meet with us and share their experiences.
Reports of the activities and outcomes from each community visit will be made available by the Commission in coming months.