Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Supporting people with mental illness in remote NT communities

Joint Media Release with:

  • Warren Snowdon MP
    Minister for Indigenous Health
    Member for Lingiari

Aboriginal people living with mental illness in four remote Northern Territory communities will soon have greater access to mental health support with almost $6 million in Commonwealth Government funding over the next three years to 30 June 2016.

This investment will see the establishment of two new Personal Helpers and Mentors (PHaMs) services and two new Family Mental Health Support Services, which will provide much needed support to Aboriginal communities in Santa Teresa, Gunbalanya, Ngukurr and Maningrida.

The new PHaMs services will help around 90 people with mental illness in Ngukurr and Maningrida, providing one-on-one and ongoing support to help them participate in community life and reconnect with health care services and employment.

By building confidence and increasing connections within the community, personal helpers and mentors can help people with mental illness overcome social isolation.

This investment is part of Labor’s record $2.2 billion national mental health reform package.

The Family Mental Health Support Services will provide essential support for young people to help them stay at school, get involved in the community and build better relationships with their family and friends.

In addition to supporting individual participants, PHaMs remote and Family Mental Health Support Services service organisations will also work to build local capacity to respond to mental health issues.

Both programs will provide opportunities for local people to be directly involved in the delivery of services creating more local jobs.

Mental illness can have a devastating effect on people’s lives. It can leave them feeling isolated and vulnerable and can put them at increased risk of drug and alcohol misuse.

We know that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience higher rates of mental illness compared to other Australians.

Applications from local organisations to deliver these services are currently being assessed. It is expected that services will be operational by the end of 2013.