Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

New mental health services for refugees

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Maxine McKew MP, Member for Bennelong

The Australian Government is providing $5.4 million for new services and workers to give humanitarian entrants with a mental illness access to one-on-one support through the Personal Helpers and Mentors (PHaMs) program.

The Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, and the Member for Bennelong, Maxine McKew, made the announcement while visiting staff and clients at New Horizons in North Ryde.

New Horizons will receive $1.2 million in additional funding to expand their current programs, and provide more targeted help for humanitarian entrants in Northern and Western Sydney. This is on top of their existing ongoing funding of $1.7 million until 30 June 2012 in these locations. New Horizons delivers PHaMs in 10 sites in New South Wales.

The $5.4 million will establish two new PHaMs services in communities with significant humanitarian entrant populations in Liverpool in New South Wales and Inner North Adelaide to help people with a mental illness who are humanitarian entrants, such as refugees and other people displaced from their homelands.

In addition, ten new workers will be shared among five existing PHaMs sites in New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria to work specifically with humanitarian entrants.

In total, 20 additional personal mentors will be on the ground by mid 2010 to provide intensive assistance to humanitarian entrants with a severe mental illness.

“These additional services will provide humanitarian entrants, suffering severe mental illness, with the support they need to connect with the wider community and to live more independent and satisfying lives,” Ms Macklin said.

“The trauma of leaving your home, sometimes by force, can be deeply distressing for those who suffer from mental illness.

“Personal mentors work one-on-one with participants with practical help to achieve their personal goals – for example, improving relationships with family and friends.”

These new personal mentors will also connect participants with essential clinical and social services, including housing services and health professionals.

“The one-on-one support provided by personal helpers and mentors is so important for humanitarian migrants, who really need extra support to connect with their new community,” said Ms McKew.

“New Horizons provides the help that counts most for those who need it, and ensures that they start their journey in Australia on the best possible footing.”

New PHaMs sites targeting humanitarian entrants:
Site Funding (2010 to 2012)
Fairfield/Liverpool, NSW $1,321,400
Inner Northern Adelaide, SA $1,321,400
Total $2,642,800
Existing PHaMs sites to receive additional funding targeting humanitarian entrants:
Existing site Service base Provider Additional funding
(2010 to 2012)
Hornsby/Ku-ring-gai, NSW North Ryde New Horizons $396,420
Croydon/Bankstown, NSW Marrickville New Horizons $792,840
Blacktown, NSW * Seven Hills Aftercare $396,420
Penrith, NSW * Penrith Aftercare $396,420
Port Adelaide, SA * Wayville Mental Illness Fellowship of South Australia $396,420
Inner West Melbourne, VIC* Brunswick Jobco Employment Services $396,420
Total $2,774,940

* Also targeting Indigenous Australians with a mental illness