Story Category: Community Initiatives

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

This year’s theme focused on making visible innovative approaches to support mental health that are having positive results. The forum featured programs that have been designed by communities, or delivered by community health and mental health services in collaboration with local communities.

People from a range of services, sectors and programs came along. We heard from dynamic speakers from diverse fields. If you missed the event, you can read more about the speakers here.

Keynote speakers

Kellie Loughron, traditional owner opened the day with a Welcome to Country and Melbourne broadcaster, Sally Warhaft, hosted the day. We also witnessed a moving musical performance by Jessie Lloyd, who sang from the Missions Song Project.

The day was a chance to step back and think about ‘big picture’ community. About our neighbourhoods and cities and the connections between groups, strengths and social problems. The message was clear; diversity is not the problem, disadvantage is (Rebecca Wickes).

We explored how we embody community, especially when facing 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 Project Rockit, which has gone from strength to strength. It’s addressing the bullying and discrimination young people experience at schools and online (Lucy Thomas).

Community health centres, in inner city Melbourne and regional Victoria, have been reaching out to underserved more recently arrived communities. Their work is grounded in 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 how they stand up for communities. They are keep 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 now well established program with stunning outcomes. People with lived experience are organising 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 by thinking community engagement and evaluation, mobilising knowledge and influencing decision makers (Susan 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.