Have you ever wondered how communities impacted by drought, disasters and community crisis recover and move forward? Studies have shown that when a community is well connected, cohesive, and resilient, they cope better and recover faster.

‘Tackling regional adversity through integrated care’ (TRAIC) was one of the topics presented at the March Supporting Community and Wellbeing event in Toowoomba. Presenter Louise Scanlan, Clinical Lead at Queensland health, Bundaberg, explained how TRAIC integrates clinical care and community support, providing a comprehensive approach to tackling mental health issues in rural communities.

Louise also covered the common phases of community disaster recovery. These phases include – heroic, honeymoon, disillusionment and reconstruction. Initially the important resources to recovery include family groups and emergency teams, and then moves to community groups and aid agencies and finally recovery can take place through reconstruction, where there are visible changes and support networks to aid recovery.

Sharon Sarah, CEO of Bridges Health and Community Care shared with the audience the ‘Tag a mate, take a break’ project. This is all about empowering both men and women to team up with a mate and prioritise their wellbeing through fun and connection. Through workshops such as Latin dance, writing and activities such as fishing trips, this as all about supporting people in the community who are experiencing hardship from natural disasters and loss of industry over several years.

The Way Back Support Service is a non-clinical, innovative, assertive suicide prevention program targeting people who have tried to take their own lives or have experienced a suicidal crisis. The Way Back Support Service was presented by the Richmond Fellowship Queensland (RFQ) Area Manager, Karen Suey. Karen explained that support is provided for up to three months and targets those at the highest risk through referrals following hospital presentations or through specialist mental health services. Central Queensland, Wide Bay, Sunshine Coast PHN were proactive in securing the Way Back Service for the region and have funded RFQ to deliver this service. RFQ also deliver the service to the Redcliffe – Caboolture & Darling Downs, West Morton & Kingaroy area.

Marcus Mission aims to reduce the risk of suicide for men in Queensland. The initiative was established by Wesley Mission Queensland in 2018, after being approached by Andree’ Roberts, a local Bundaberg resident who lost her son to suicide after his battle with depression.

Andree’ provided an overview of the free monthly Resilience Building Skills workshops and MENtor training for men 18+ in the community. To achieve a reduction in the number of young men attempting to take their life or dying by suicide, Wesley Mission Queensland and those involved in Marcus Mission offer support to build the skills, knowledge, and connections of men as well as their families, friends, and communities. Initiative include Volunteer MENtor networks, resilience building and suicide prevention training.

The Mind Life initiative is a National Disability Insurance Scheme: Information Linkages and Capacity Building Grant funded project. Project Manager, Gill Townsend, stated the purpose of the program is to reframe psychosocial disability, reduce stigma and improve community access for people who experience psychosocial disability.

Mind Life offers virtual and in-person discussion sessions – building on Mind-Life concepts and ideas from their pre-released blogs. Mind Life is a transformative project focusing on mental health promotion and the reduction of stigma using Human Centred Design and both a community development and campaign style approach.

Close to 40 people from local community organisations, government agencies and community members attended the Bundaberg event to hear presentations about projects and initiatives supporting local community members. The feedback was very positive with 87% of attendees rating the event content as “Exceeding Expectations” or “Exceptional “. Attendees relished the opportunity to meet others and share information about supports in their local community.


If you would like more information on the topics covered at the Bundaberg event or would like to share an innovative community mental health idea or program with others, please contact Sarah Childs, QAMH Director – Engagement and Partnership at schilds@qamh.org,au

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