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Forum Puts ‘Community’ at The Centre of Mental Health Practice

Together with our event partner North Western Melbourne PHN, we held our 2019 Forum, Doing it differently: Putting ‘community’ at the centre of mental health practice, on Thursday 1st August at the Global Learning Centre in Broadmeadows.

ABOVE: The whole day was captured in stunning detail, in words and pictures, by our live scribe Devon Bunce.

This year’s theme focused on making visible innovative approaches to support mental health, designed by community leaders, and by community health and mental health services in collaboration with local communities, that are having positive results.

People from a range of services, sectors and programs came along to the event, and heard from dynamic speakers from diverse fields.

The day was hosted by Melbourne broadcaster, Sally Warhaft, and also featured a musical interlude by Jessie Llyod, including a song from the Missions Song Project, and Welcome to Country by Traditional Owner Kellie Loughron.

We got the chance to step back and think about ‘big picture’ community, living in neighbourhoods and cities, how we occupy spaces and the relationship between groups and social problems. The message was clear, diversity is not the problem, disadvantage is (Rebecca Wickes). And from there we were shown the ways in which we embody community, a truth that is nowhere more apparent than when people face life-threatening traumatic events. Trauma takes us into and beyond ourselves, through processes of rupture and bonding (Robert Gordon).

What does it look like to see a problem and be the change you want to see? We heard the story of a project, that has gone from strength to strength, designed to address the bullying and discrimination young people are experiencing in schools and online (Lucy Thomas).

Community health centres, in inner city Melbourne and regional Victoria, have been taking deliberate steps to reach out to underserved more recently arrived communities, by developing projects founded on meaningful community engagement and co-design and they are getting results (Kaye Graves, Bich-Hoa Ha, Abdi Moalin). Leaders of ethnic communities and faith communities gave us a glimpse into the many ways they stand up for communities. They are keeping the conversations going, as volunteer broadcasters on community language radio and in professional community development roles (Matoc Mordecai Achol & Radhika Santhanam-Martin).

Leaders are getting comprehensive mentoring and support through a long-established program, with stunning outcomes, emerging from lived experience, and a gathering the confidence to organise new initiatives around social change (Alex Mills). Mental health and alcohol and other drug services are also coming to grips with what it looks like to put people, families and faith communities at the centre of recovery-oriented service delivery models and everyday practice (Rachael Barbara, Remzi Unal & Ulukile Masiyane). We wrapped up the day thinking community practices and evaluation, and ways to mobilise knowledge for advocacy and to influence decision makers (Sue McDonough). 

ABOVE: Images of MC, Sally Warhaft and Guest speakers and panel discussions.

What did people tell us they
found beneficial?

Having such as big range of speakers from very different
areas of mental health’ and

‘The diversity of topics, but common themes of being community centred’.

What did people say they will now
do differently?

‘Critical thinking – understanding more about the local community of where my organisation is and the social cohesion’ and

‘Incorporate understanding of the social sciences and understanding of culture and demographics when designing community mental health programs’.

Thank you to all the speakers and participants and to our event partner North Western Melbourne PHN.