Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Help for people with mental illness in remote communities

People living with a mental illness in remote Australia will have access to much-needed support through the extension of the Personal Helpers and Mentors (PHaMS) program.

The Australian Government is providing $10.9 million over 3 years for seven new remote PHaMS sites, which have been identified in consultation with state and territory governments.

The new PHaMs remote sites are:

  • Tennant Creek and Elliott, Northern Territory
  • Papunya – West Alice Springs region, Northern Territory
  • Aurukun, Queensland
  • Doomadgee, Queensland
  • Yarrabah, Queensland
  • Narrogin, Western Australia
  • Warburton, Western Australia

‘Mental illness can have a devastating effect on people’s lives leaving them feeling isolated, vulnerable and at risk of drug and alcohol misuse,’ Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin said.

‘For people in remote locations the sense of isolation is often compounded.’

The program targets those most in need-people who cannot manage their daily activities or live independently because they have a severe mental illness.

‘Personal helpers and mentors work one-on-one with participants helping them achieve their goals-for example, how to manage every day tasks such as housekeeping,’ Ms Macklin said.

‘They also work on improving relationships with family and friends and becoming more involved in community life. And they make sure that participants are connected with essential clinical and support services.’
A remote delivery model of PHaMs has been designed to help people deal with the extra issues they face due to the remoteness of their community.

This model recognises and promotes spiritual, cultural, mental and physical healing for Indigenous Australians living with mental illness.

Three PHaMS sites have already been rolled out in Yuendumu, West Kimberley/Broome and the APY Lands.