In recognition of the impact that COVID19 has had on older adults in our communities, the Federal Government has allocated funding to provide extra support to people aged 65 years and over and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples aged 55 years and over across Australia who have experienced feelings of loneliness and a loss of connection as a result of COVID19. GP down south has received part of this funding and will provide free support to older adults living in the South-West region of WA, including Bunbury and surrounds, the Warren Blackwood and Busselton / Margaret River regions. This new program will support older adults to improve their mental health as well as facilitate connections with other services and social networks in an individualised approach, assisting older adults to establish or re-establish connections in their communities and provide one on one mental health support to improve their overall health and wellbeing. Humans are a pack species. Social connections are crucial for us to survive and thrive. COVID19 has affected nearly everyone’s social connections across the world to one degree or another. The fear of contracting COVID19 and the social distancing restrictions put in place mean that vulnerable, older adults living by themselves, became even more isolated due to restrictions on their social connections and connections with their family who may live in other parts of Australia or the world. The impact of COVID 19 may leave older adults more vulnerable to loneliness and social isolation, which can negatively impact their physical health and mental well-being. Research shows that loneliness and social isolation are associated with higher risks for health problems such as heart disease, depression, and cognitive decline and that socially isolated or lonely adults are more likely to have longer, and more frequent hospital stays. Maintaining social connection and cognitive activity are the keys to a longer, more meaningful life. If you or someone you know could benefit from this FREE extra support, please see your GP or other allied health provider to complete a referral. For more information you can call 9754 3662 or check the mental health information on our website.
COVID-19 support services have been delivered over 13 months to more than 1,000 people from Kwinana to Harvey through a partnership between Anglicare WA and resources company Alcoa.
Anglicare WA was funded by Alcoa’s global charity, the Alcoa Foundation, to deliver financial counselling, family support and mental health services across the local government areas of Kwinana, Murray and Waroona, as well as parts of Harvey and Serpentine-Jarrahdale.
The support was delivered between May last year to the end of June this year with 470 people in the Peel region, 330 in the Upper South West and 250 in the Kwinana area assisted.
Local organisations FinUCAre, GP down south and Allambee Counselling helped with the rollout of services.
Anglicare WA Services Director Philippa Boldy said the year-long project was anticipated to have a lasting impact. “In addition to the immediate support provided, there is now increased integration of existing local support services, as well as increased capacity and investment in local organisations, such as the Community Resource Centres,” said Mrs Boldy.
“Without the initiative and investment from the Alcoa Foundation to fund these COVID recovery services, more than 1,000 people would have missed out on this vital support which has helped them through this difficult, uncertain time.
“Anglicare WA will deliver some services ongoing, such as parenting support in Dwellingup and counselling in Carcoola.” Alcoa Australia Corporate Affairs Manager Suellen Jerrard said the Company wanted to help the communities near where it operated its bauxite mines and alumina refineries in Western Australia through the difficult times associated with the COVID pandemic and was thankful to Anglicare WA and its partners for the real difference the program had made.
“We are proud to be continuing our partnership with Anglicare WA by now supporting the roll out of its Friend in Need initiative, which aims to help people help each other, building sustainability into local support networks,” Mrs Jerrard said.
Designed by Anglicare WA, Friend In Need helps to build the capacity of local leaders to support people going through issues such as mental health, relationship or financial difficulties. It will be rolled out across the same communities as the broader support program through until the end of 2021. People wanting to find out more or register for Friend in Need training should contact their local Community Resource Centre or Anglicare WA at firstname.lastname@example.org. Original article can be accessed here.
Meet our new Regional Manager, South West, Kerry Shaw. Kerry has come to us from the City of Bunbury where she held a number of roles, most recently Team Leader – Strategy. Kerry has worked in Community and Stakeholder Engagement and also managed the People and Place department for the City.
“Working with people in developing community partnerships, but also working to get grass roots projects off the ground to reach positive outcomes is what makes my heart sing”, says Kerry. There is a lot of scope for that with GP down south and Kerry has hit the ground running, immersing herself in the programs and services we offer throughout the South West.
What we didn’t know about Kerry is that she is a qualified Drumbeat facilitator and instead of learning the fine art of sourdough during lockdown, became a certified yoga teacher!
She is married, with four kids, who bravely took on a lap of the country in a Nissan Patrol and camper trailer for 12-months when the kids were 12 and under. Lifetime memories were forged in that experience, but Kerry says that the South West corner of Western Australia is home and she is excited to be working with GP down south on projects like the Bunbury Health Hub.
Kerry had previously worked in mental health, with headspace and is looking forward to returning to the health and wellbeing sector.
Recently the co-locating staff at the Peel Health Hub contributed to a collection of donations for Homelessness Week. The collection included non-perishable food items, toiletries and clothing. The goods were presented to Halo, the Mandurah based charity that supports the local community. Halo runs a soup kitchen for homeless and disadvantaged people. They also run a shelter for homeless to transition into their own accommodation. They provide food, medicine and other welfare items. They can also pay for items people can't afford such as utility accounts, car maintenance and registration, etc.
It is an amazing service for the most vulnerable in our community and we were so happy to be able to help. Well done to all the staff for such generous donations that will enable Halo to continue supporting those most in need
L-R: Amy Matthews representing headspace, Dee Frietag, Manager Halo, Albie Humphries from the Assertive Outreach Team at GP down south.
That was the theme this year as Mandurah organisations came together for Homelessness Week. Nidjalla Wangaan Mia and the Assertive Outreach Team participated in two events to help bring services, clothes and information to people who are living rough.
The first event was hosted by West Aus Crisis Care on the Mandurah foreshore with free activities, food, drinks and give away's from local community services organisations supporting those experiencing homelessness in our community.
The Mobile Health Bus was there and the teams spoke to many people who are in need of services and a hand to guide them in the right direction.
The second event was held on Friday at the Baptist Church in Mandurah organised by Anglicare and St Vincent de Paul. A range of local community services including housing, financial, alcohol & other drug, employment & training, family & domestic violence.
Visitors were able to access hot food, tea & coffee, hampers, haircuts, clothes, sleeping bags and much more. Services to the homeless are much needed in the community and we are pleased that we could offer some support and jackets to those in need.
It’s an expression we use every day, so it might surprise you that the term ‘mental health’ is frequently misunderstood. This is a topic we spend a lot of time on at GP down south. We provide mental health programs and services for youth and adults. We thought we would share this fantastic article from Beyond Blue, which addresses some of the questions frequently hear.
‘Mental health’ is often used as a substitute for mental health conditions – such as depression, anxiety conditions, schizophrenia, and others. According to the World Health Organization, however, mental health is “a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.” So rather than being about ‘what’s the problem?’ it’s really about ‘what’s going well?'
''Mental health is about wellness rather than illness''
To make things a bit clearer, some experts have tried coming up with different terms to explain the difference between ‘mental health’ and ‘mental health conditions’. Phrases such as ‘good mental health’, ‘positive mental health’, ‘mental wellbeing’, ‘subjective wellbeing’ and even ‘happiness’ have been proposed by various people to emphasise that mental health is about wellness rather than illness. While some say this has been helpful, others argue that using more words to describe the same thing just adds to the confusion.
As a result, others have tried to explain the difference by talking about a continuum where mental health is at one end of the spectrum – represented by feeling good and functioning well – while mental health conditions (or mental illness) are at the other – represented by symptoms that affect people’s thoughts, feelings or behaviour.
The benefits of staying wellResearch shows that high levels of mental health are associated with increased learning, creativity and productivity, more pro-social behaviour and positive social relationships, and with improved physical health and life expectancy. In contrast, mental health conditions can cause distress, impact on day-to-day functioning and relationships, and are associated with poor physical health and premature death from suicide.
But it’s important to remember that mental health is complex. The fact that someone is not experiencing a mental health condition doesn’t necessarily mean their mental health is flourishing. Likewise, it’s possible to be diagnosed with a mental health condition while feeling well in many aspects of life.
Ultimately, mental health is about being cognitively, emotionally and socially healthy – the way we think, feel and develop relationships - and not merely the absence of a mental health condition. Beyond Blue's vision is that everyone achieves their best possible mental health While Beyond Blue's primary focus is on the needs of people affected by depression, anxiety and suicide, we also believe that a better understanding of what we mean by mental health and how to achieve it will help everyone in Australia reach their full potential. This will also contribute to the prevention of mental health conditions, and support people who have experienced these conditions to get as well as they can and lead full and contributing lives.
Having social connections, good personal relationships and being part of a community are vital to maintaining good mental health and contribute to people's recovery, should they become unwell.
Each Wednesday members of the Manjimup community are invited to the Down South Aboriginal Health offices. It was an idea from staff to increase client participation and also to promote health and wellbeing.
Whacky Wednesday is an opportunity for the community members to join in for a feed, 'cuppa' and yarn in an informal session. The community can get to know the staff better and to help them feel comfortable to ask health related questions in a relaxed environment.
Whacky Wednesday is also about promoting the importance of annual health checks. Clients are entered into a draw to win a raffle by either having their health check done or by having their blood pressure completed if they are not eligible for their health check in that month.
The GP down south Assertive Outreach Team, along with seven other organisations collaborated to bring together a 4-day cultural camp for 18 young people connecting them to country and culture.
The aim of the camp was to encourage Aboriginal youth to respect the Aboriginal ‘Country’ in which they live and recreate on. The focus was for youth both male and female to understand how critical the connection to the land is to Aboriginal people. To show Aboriginal youth that they are descendants of one of the oldest cultures in the world, and at its heart, is a strong affinity with the land they inhabit. Helping to understand this connection, creates pride in who they are and where they have come from, we are then handing them the responsibility to live and create a better future for themselves.
Respected community leaders Uncle Trevor and Aunty Kerry facilitated the cultural aspects of the camp through Goolamwiin with the Smoking Ceremony, workshops in tool making and bush tucker identification, yarning around the campfire and traditional dancing.
The four days provided opportunities for camp participants to immerse themselves in traditional Aboriginal knowledge, skills, spirituality, and connect to country through language, stories, and song. Social networks were increased, and the young people felt connected to each other by the end of camp. An important component of the camp was young people demonstrating respect in all aspects of life. Camp participants were able to work through differences and take responsibility for their actions. Interactions with WA Police were extremely positive in mending and building relationships. There were breakthroughs in stereotypes and many barriers came down. It was evident that supporting young people to increase their sense of identity, cultural awareness, and connectedness to country and community had positive benefits for their mental health.
Participants loved it so much that they have requested regular catch up sessions at Winjan to continue contact with peers. Many participants advised that they did not know that Winjan existed before the camp. The level of camaraderie, respect and participation blew everyone away. It was obviously something needed, but missing in the community.
The working group will continue to meet to work towards making the camp a regular event. “I am just thankful we had the opportunity to be part of something special, the change in all of the kids was really obvious over the 4 days, the community is very lucky to have a committed group of people that you all are to make sure our children have a chance to grow.” Senior Sergeant Neville Beard, Officer In Charge | Mandurah Police Station
The Down South Aboriginal Health Service Team in conjunction with the Manjimup Shire and CRC had planned a lovely day planting bush tucker plants along a walking trail in the Manjimup Heritage Park. Little did they know, that the weather would be what it is today. Wild and wet!
The Shire of Manjimup permitted the use some of the established trails within the Heritage Park (Timber Park) that they had put aside for Indigenous uses.
Nonetheless, a few dedicated troupers still attended, participated and planted. No doubt bonded by the communal saturation.
There were volunteers from the Manjimup Bridgetown Times and the local Community Resource Centre to ensure all the plants went in to the ground. At least they will get a solid start to put down good roots for future growth.
Down South Aboriginal Health Program Manager, Miranda Kelleher said, “everyone who came did some planting and had a fantastic day out, despite the rain!!”
Thanks to Bunnings for the generous donation of all the bush tucker plants. And for also providing some volunteers who got into the spirit with the young at heart enjoying jumping in the (many) puddles.
Hot drinks, juice, water and cakes were provided for sustenance, but we think that the one thing everyone was looking forward to the most was getting home to a hot shower!
Hopefully, when the weather warms up, and our plants are a little bigger we can enjoy a sausage sizzle under the gazebo and enjoy trying the Bush Tucker we planted today ( along with the plants already establishes along the walking trails).
The GP down south team don’t often get the opportunity asses the impact they make on lives every day. Our staff do what they do because they believe in helping others and believe in their community.
At the recent Organisation Development Day, staff came together to hear how we impact lives across the programs and services we deliver. We heard about the 360 degree support clients receive when our staff get the referral. Often there are co-occuring issues standing between the person and optimal health.
In addressing the primary health concern, staff often discover broader issues are in play. The way staff engage with clients include, as the health professional they have been referred to, advocate in engaging other services to support them and as a coordinator with allied health services.
When someone is able to enjoy the forest right outside their door or finally understands the consequences of their drinking on their diabetes and other aspects of their life or when they can join friends at a party because of the help we have given, then we know we are making a difference.
“The service has made a huge difference to my health and well being. I feel fully supported to be able to improve my life.” “This service has saved me. I honestly don't know what would have happened without it. I am so grateful