2023 Mental Health Matters Winners

Congratulations to all our winners for the 2023 Mental Health Matters Awards

Mental Health Matters Rainbow Inclusion Award sponsored by ACON

Muslim Peers Project – Outloud Inc

Outloud’s Muslim Peers Project is for young queer or questioning Muslims experiencing mental health distress. They provide free one-on-one peer support (chat, phone or face-to-face one-to-one or group) for queer Muslims, also providing them with a safe space to share their stories and not feel alone. They host a collaborative Instagram page (@muslim_peers_project) that features letters from participants, art, music and resources. We have hosted events such as a queer Iftar, a Safe Pride Picnic and ongoing creative therapeutic programs such as our therapeutic poetry program.

Muslim Peers Project – Outloud Inc

Julie Leitch Leadership Through Lived Experience Award

Mark Robertson – One Vision Productions – MPOWER

One Vision Production and MPOWER offer innovative solutions for supporting young people, utilising their passions and interests as the basis for change. Too often, services are created without consultation with the young person, leading to programs that fail to engage and inspire youth. OVP is different. Mark has a unique understanding of how to connect with young people that would otherwise fall through the cracks of the current education system and often end up in juvenile detention centres. Preventing initial incarceration is part of the work, but education of youth already incarcerated to prevent further contact with the system and the possibility of intergenerational incarceration, is of equal importance.

Much of this work involves connecting or reconnecting youth with their country, community, and culture, giving reason to be their best self. Additionally, the provision of health and wellness information and tools, and learning new creative skills, aid employability and inspire further education opportunities and the confidence to approach them.

Mark Robertson – One Vision Productions – MPOWER

Aboriginal Social and Emotional Wellbeing Award Sponsored by Asuria

Healing Program Kalypi Paaka Mirika – Maari Ma Health

The Kalypi Paaka Mirika healing program was informed by the community safety research project CSRP, a study implemented through a partnership between MM and University of NSW schools of psychology and psychiatry that commenced in 2008.

CSRP was an in-depth community research project that utilised a series of illustrated impressions to guide consultation with community members in Broken Hill, Wilcannia and Menindee to explore how trauma manifested in the communities and identifying healing priorities in a local context. Collectively all data collated through the CSRP informed the design of the Kalypi Paaka Mirika Healing Program which has been implemented in the 3 communities where the CSRP was conducted.

The Kalypi Paaka Mirika program manual explains that the program is seen as the first step in assisting individuals to embark on their healing journey. It also notes diversity in people’s understanding of what constitutes health, wellbeing, trauma, and violence. The program was designed to promote understanding of how the devastating impacts of colonisation have caused a cycle of intergenerational trauma, grief and loss, manifesting violence, substance misuse and other harmful behaviours. It aims to empower Aboriginal families, communities, and relevant agencies to work together to reduce the occurrence of family violence in Aboriginal communities.

Healing Program Kalypi Paaka Mirika – Maari Ma Health

Mental Health Matters Community Initiative Award

Soul & Wellbeing Encounters – House to Grow Ltd

Soul and Wellness Encounters is an initiative dedicated to connecting, educating, and empowering women to live a healthier life while encouraging community participation. A series of interactive activities facilitated by professionals and experts in the holistic health space that provides a safe space to learn, share and practice.

The project has improved social, physical, and emotional wellbeing and strengthen relationships. The program was designed to meet the specific needs of the women in Cumberland which they have relied heavily on the insights and feedback provided by their strong and extensive community network to inform their approach. Through surveys and interviews with key stakeholders, they gained a deep understanding of the community’s needs and priorities. They have analysed existing data sources and maintained open lines of communication with the community and have regularly solicited feedback and input to ensure the program remains responsive to their evolving needs and priorities.

By involving the community in the plan, design, and implementation of the program, they were able to ensure that it was responsive to the needs and preferences of the women it aimed to serve. This helped to build trust and support for the program, and ultimately led to better health outcomes for women in the community.

Mental Health Matters Youth Award

Getting on Track In Time – Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service Port Macquarie

Getting on track in Time (Got It!) provides early intervention to children with behavioural challenges through a social and emotional approach. It targets children aged 5-8 in public schools and their parents. In 2022 Greenhill Public School (GHPS) had 24 children who all identified as First Nations. Parental engagement was challenging. Through an extensive collaborative approach Got It! delivered an adapted program focusing on inclusivity, culturally appropriateness, trauma informed and led by an Aboriginal clinician, supported by an Aboriginal Peer worker and by non-Aboriginal staff. Professional development was undertaken by school staff. Parents and carers attended 3 sessions.

The outcomes included increased knowledge in social and emotional literacy, deepening engagement between the mental health service, parents, and the school communities and Got It! to future proof connections with the school community. The program supports school communities to build the social and emotional wellbeing of children and improve the child’s trajectory and their mental health outcomes (Plath, 2014). The delivery was innovative and inclusive, targeting the excellence in the provision of mental health services to an at-risk community by developing consumer focused programs and targeting prevention and early intervention. It fit into keeping people healthy by identifying and improving health outcomes for risks groups.

The program focussed on a small-school approach, involving 100% of children identifying as First Nations, and a collaborative approach in the planning and delivery with the staff, parents, and Elders.

The Mental Health Matters Workplaces Wellbeing Award

Recovery 2gether (R2G): Focus on Purpose for a Positive, Healthy Workplace. – One Door Mental Health

Recovery 2gether, One Door’s purpose-driven approach that applies to their wholeorganisation – from frontline staff to the Executive, endorsed and championed by the Board. R2G creates people-centred systems, invests in, supports staff, and guides how they recruit, train, and retain their teams. R2G includes practices that support staff to create psychologically safe teams, use non-violent/compassionate communication and make ‘consent-based’ decisions. At One Door there is no Head Office, but there is a Support Hub. The Support Hub guides frontline teams and carries out the organisation’s corporate responsibilities.

Over 80% of staff identify as having a lived experience of mental health challenges and/or as being a carer. R2G aligns seamlessly with the mental health and wellbeing needs of our workforce and the people we support; recovery principles; and the National Mental Health Commission’s ‘National Lived Experience (Peer) Workforce Development Guidelines’. We apply these principles and guidelines to not only our Lived Experience workers, but to all staff; and not only to Human Resource policies/processes, but to all. Through R2G, we achieve higher levels of equality, autonomy, transparency, empathy and belonging; resulting in greater wellbeing, resilience, peer support, and self-care across the workforce.

Outstanding Achievement in Mental Health Promotion

My Drought Story- Reflections of Resilience During Tough Times – Hunter New England Local Health District and C7EVEN Marketing and Communications

The My Drought Story project was a digital media and awareness campaign that was implemented across previously drought affected areas of NSW. The project encouraged people in drought impacted communities to share their experiences of drought through the submission of images and stories. There was a focus on images that show ‘during’ and ‘after’ the drought. These contributions were then shared on specifically designated socia media platforms. Selected images were then collated into a book- My Drought Story, which was launched and gifted to contributors, local libraries and partnering agencies. Through the sharing of the images and stories, a large and diverse number of individuals were able to reflect on their experience of the drought and how it impacted their mental health and wellbeing.

My Drought Story encouraged people to think about how they overcame adversity and what strategies they used to get through this tough time and build their resilience. Additionally, the focus on ‘during’ and ‘after’ images highlighted how resilient the Australian landscape is and our ability as a country and a community to adapt and transform from challenging times.

Mental Health Matters Media and the Arts Award

Admissions + MAD Poetry – Red Room Poetry

Admissions + MAD Poetry are two intersecting lived experience projects – MAD Poetry and the anthology that grew from thus project, Admissions: Voices Within Mental Health.

David Stavanger is a poet, cultural producer, and editor and with lived mental health experience. He is also well known for his work with community writing projects that amplify marginalised voices and lived experience writers including Brotherhood of the Wordless (writers with autism precluded from speech), School of Hard Knocks – Word on the Street (writers with mental health and/or substance abuse issues), and since 2019 via MAD Poetry for which he is the lead producer of the project at Red Room Poetry. ‘

We are full of worlds that can’t be contained by a pill’ MAD Poetry is an initiative that originated in the Illawarra directly out of the lived experience community before David saw an opportunity to give it home at Red Room Poetry where he has produced it (and acted as its caretaker) since 2020. The key focus of the project is on creating a safe writing space for emerging voices with a lived/living experience of mental health issues to express how they see the world, where these poets can define themselves through their creativity not their diagnosis and explore by pen and page their experience of illness, institutions, recovery, self-care, and beyond

Commissioner’s Community Champion Award (MHCN)

Nanna’s Touch Community Connections Lithgow Inc

We are delighted to announce that the winner of the 2023 NSW Mental Health Commissioner’s Community Champion Award for an organisation is Nanna’s Touch Community Connections Incorporated.

Lithgow-based Nanna’s Touch is run entirely by volunteers, and hosts a variety of activities that support and create connections for both mental health carers and those with lived experience of mental health issues:

  • Walk n Talk for Life’, a program aimed at suicide prevention and mental health  awareness
  • The Lithgow Community Garden, a mental health safe space
  • Wellbeing Connections, a social group for people of all ages
  • The Men’s Crib Room Talk, for men who provide mental health care support to others
  • And most recently, a soup kitchen to supply a warm meal and social connection.

This is just some of the work this wonderful organisation is doing, but they are ready for more: “We are open to any new initiatives that may support our local community!”

Congratulations and well done, Nanna’s Touch.