Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Supporting local Indigenous people with a mental illness

Joint Media Release with:

  • Sharryn Jackson MP, Member for Hasluck

Indigenous people living with mental illness, grief, and trauma in the Maddington and Armadale regions of Perth will have greater access to much needed support through the expansion of the Australian Government’s Personal Helpers and Mentors (PHaMs) program.

The Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, and the Member for Hasluck, Sharryn Jackson, today visited Ruah Community Services to announce more than $396,000 in additional funding to help expand the local personal helpers and mentors service.

Minister Macklin said by working one-on-one with participants, personal helpers and mentors help people to set and achieve personal goals, such as finding suitable housing, using public transport or improving relationships with family and friends.

“By building people’s confidence and improving their connections within the community, personal helpers and mentors can help participants overcome the social isolation that can be so crippling for someone with a mental illness,” Ms Macklin said.

“We know that practical support for people with a mental illness is essential in these communities and that’s why the Australian Government is providing Ruah Community Services with a total of $1.6 million over the next two years to deliver community based mental health support in Maddington and Armadale.”

The Member for Hasluck, Sharryn Jackson said the additional funding allowed Ruah to employ an additional two full-time PHaMs workers to support Indigenous people living with mental illness, grief and trauma in the community rather than solely through medical services.

“Importantly, the personal helpers and mentors will also help support the families and carers of people with a mental illness, who often have little or no time for themselves because of the demands of their caring role,” Ms Jackson said.

“Mental illness can have a devastating effect on people’s lives leaving them feeling isolated, vulnerable, and at risk of drug and alcohol abuse.

“Compared with other Australians, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience higher rates of mental illness and other problems.”

Evaluations of the PHaMs program have shown that participants gain the confidence to re-connect with mainstream health services, learn new skills and become less socially isolated.