Rural suicide prevention on the agenda at Easter Show
Caption: CRRMH Director Professor David Perkins with Senior Development Officer, Vanessa Delaney and Executive Manager, Trevor Hazell holding the Briefing Paper on Suicide & Suicide Prevention in Rural Areas of Australia to be released on 11th April 2017
Rural suicide prevention on the agenda at Easter Show
In every state in Australia, the rate of suicide among those who live outside the greater capital cities is higher than that for residents that live within them.
This, along with the fact that over the last five years the rate of suicide has been gradually rising in rural areas, but has remained relatively stable in capital cities, has prompted the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health (CRRMH) to organise a rural suicide prevention forum at this year’s Royal Sydney Easter Show. The forum, developed with the support of the NSW Mental Health Commission, is titled “Working Together to Prevent Suicide in Rural Areas” and will take place on Tuesday 11 April.
Director of the CRRMH Professor David Perkins said that the Easter Show provides an appropriate opportunity to talk about the issue of preventing suicides in rural areas.
“One of the aims of the Easter Show is to bring the country to the city but it’s not just about livestock and akubras - it’s important that the issue of suicide prevention is recognised as a major issue for rural communities,” he said.
Over 60 key stakeholders, including politicians, policy makers, government and non-government organisations and industry representatives will discuss the complexities involved in preventing rural suicides and how these are different to that of urban suicide prevention.
The Governor of NSW, His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret’d) will attend the forum, along with NSW Minister for Mental Health the Hon. Tanya Davies, NSW Minister for Aboriginal Affairs the Hon. Sarah Mitchell, and the NSW Mental Health Commissioner, John Feneley.
Mr Feneley said the conversation was timely as both NSW and the Commonwealth were investing in rural suicide prevention trials. “The world-first LifeSpan suicide prevention trial is beginning in NSW – with the Murrumbidgee trial site to tailor proven strategies to rural needs – and the Commonwealth is funding a suicide prevention trial in western NSW”.
“The time is right to ensure all voices are heard, so we can build suicide prevention models that respond to the particular needs of our communities,” said Mr Feneley. “It can’t be a one size fits all approach; these strategies will need to consider the unique social, economic and environmental strengths and weaknesses that exist in individual rural communities,” he said.
“The majority of suicides among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people occur outside capital cities, so Indigenous leadership and participation in suicide prevention strategies is critical. We must be guided by what Aboriginal leaders tell us.”
Professor Perkins said the ideas discussed and suggestions made at the Forum would assist the CRRMH to develop a position paper on Rural Suicide Prevention.
“Those contributing to the forum have a real opportunity to influence the upcoming suicide prevention trials in rural communities, so that the leaders and members of these communities can implement proven strategies to reduce suicide attempts and deaths’, he said.
Everyone needs to be part of the solution to rural suicide and this is an important contribution”.
You can read the full media release here
CRRMH wins Faculty Community Engagement Awards
A number of team members from our Rural Adversity Mental Health Program - RAMHP and Farm-Link programs have been successful in achieving recognition for their work by the The University of Newcastle, Australia
The Faculty of Health and Medicine give awards annually for academic and professional staff excellence.
The two catagories which we were successful in were:
Faculty Indigenous Collaborations Awards:
Fiona Livingstone won the Faculty Indigenous Collaborations Award for her work on the Farm-Link program
Faculty Community Engagement Awards:
The RAMHP team won the Faculty Community Engagement Award for their work on the 2016 Glove Box Guide to Mental Health.
Congratulations to all involved.
Now is a great time to recognise recent achievements from some of our research staff Dr Scott Fitzpatrick and Dr Jane Rich.
Firstly congratulations to Dr Scott Fitzpatrick who has been awarded $3,000 for the project: Systems thinking and systems change in rural suicide prevention after a successful application in the Faculty of Health and Medicine Strategic ECR Pilot Grant round.
Secondly, congratulations to Dr Jane Rich who has been awarded a $7000 Linkage pilot grant to work with industry partners in the oil and gas sector to begin to develop a workplace mental health program. Dr Rich has also been awarded a $2,500 Early Career Researcher grant to analyse qualitative data exploring the health, lifestyle and challenges in working in the mining sector.
We look forward to keeping you up-to- date with these research projects as they progress.
At the Australia New Zealand Emergency Management Conference recently, Research Fellow Dr Jane Rich had the opportunity to co-presented the findings from the final report of the Step by Step Bushfire Support Qualitative Evaluation with Anne Crestani.
Feedback was very positive with good questions and discussions. The project began in 2013 with 25 participants having been interviewed in the service and recovery process, as well as development of advisory groups and governement partnerships. This project concludes with 2 peer-reviewed published papers, one conference presentation and a final report submitted to Office of Emergency Management. Strong working relationships have been developed with the Office of Emergency Management, NSW Department of Justice and Gateway Family Service who established/ hosted Step by Step. Click here to download a copy of the The Step by Step Blue Mountains Bushfire Support Service Qualitative Evaluation Report.
New PhD student:
Shahinoor Akter has arrived in Newcastle from Bangladesh to begin her PhD research examining rural women’s maternal health, wellbeing and help-seeking in remote tribal villages in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT). Shahinoor has a Social Science undergraduate degree as well as a Masters in Public Health from Southern Cross University, NSW (2013) and has been working as a lecturer in Jagannath University, Bangladesh. Previously she also worked as a researcher at International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh for six and half years. Shahinoor returns to Australia under the supervision of Dr Jane Rich, A/Prof Kerry Inder and A/Prof Deb Loxton. Shahinoor is based at the Hunter Research Institute of Medical Research (HMRI) and her project aims to explore the how mothers and children from the tribal communities are accessing for health care in the existing service centres and how this access can be improved and best informed.
It is a pleasure to welcome Shahinoor to Newcastle.
CRRMH hosts Leadership Exchange event
Photo: Derek Thompson, Manager Mental Health, Service Commissioning, Ministry of Health New Zealand presenting as part of the IIMHL.
The CRRMH is currently hosting an event as part of the International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership (IIMHL) Leadership Exchange being held in Australia this week with the theme of “Contributing Lives, Thriving Communities”. The Exchange is a unique international collaborative that focuses on improving mental health and addiction services and is one of the ways that IIMHL organises international innovation sharing, networking and problem solving across countries and agencies. The overall aim is to provide better outcomes for people who use mental health and addiction services and their families.
We are excited to be hosting representatives from Neami National, the Ministry of Health New Zealand, Western NSW Local Health District, Orange Aborignal Medical Services, Likemind, and Mission Australia at our “Rural and Remote Mental Health and Primary Care” event, in partnership with Molong HealthOne. The event presents an opportunity for dialogue and discussion for mental health leaders to share experiences, understandings and learnings, with the exchange of ideas and knowledge.
The Agenda includes presentations from and discussions with the visitors about their experiences and challenges, a session at Molong HealthOne about primary health and integrated care in a rural setting, a visit to the Orange Aborginal Medical Service to meet with the mental health team there, and discussions around rural suicide prevention.
Update on IFIC and CEO visit to Australia
CRRMH Director, Professor David Perkins with CEO International Foundation for Integrated Care (IFIC) Nick Goodwin in Sydney.
'Barcelona' was the venue for a successful International Conference on Integrated Care recently organised by the International Foundation for Integrated Care (IFIC) in cooperation with the Catalonian government. Almost 1200 people including the Centre's Director, Professor David Perkins gathered, from around the globe for discussions and presentations on Integrated Care.
As in the past, many common challenges were discussed. According to CEO Nick Goodwin, this year something new clearly emerged at the event: a stronger feeling of “action”.
“Like never before was this feeling so clear – in the early instances of this event, the discussions centered around “what is integrated care?” and “why is it important?”.
“We largely understand the concepts and now leaders want to know the best practices for successful behaviour change. Invited politicians engaged with concrete statements, researchers brought forward compelling evidence, and professionals in the area show concrete examples on how to make things happen.” said Nick.
You can listen to all the highlights from the conference here. It includes interviews with keynote speakers, clips from presentations and vox pops with delegates: https://vimeo.com/170599792. You can also read blogs on the Conference: http://integratedcarefoundation.org/blog/the-movement-for-change-accelerates as well as view full presentations on the Conference website including the Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Dr Margaret Chan speak about the WHO framework on integrated people- centred health services.
Following on from the conference and as part of the Centre’s appointment as the Australian Collaborating Centre promoting Person-Centred and Integrated Care, CEO IFIC Nick Goodwin has been in Australia recently facilitating workshops and discussions with the North Coast Primary Health Network and Northern NSW Integrated Care Implementation Group. He has also had discussions with the St Vincents Urban Partnership in Sydney and the University of Newcastle.
The focus of the workshops and discussions has been exploring on how we bring services effectively together to meet peoples' needs and how we can access and demonstrate that what is being achieved is making a difference to families.
Integrated care is a major feature of the Commonwealth Government’s response to the National Report on the Efficiency and Effectiveness of the Mental Health Services in Australia.
The CRRMH are working closely with Primary Health Networks who are now responsible for providing locally-based integrated mental and physical care.
Where to from here
As the Australian Collaberating Centre for Integrated Care, the Centre will be working with IFIC on understanding how integrated care can be incorporated into the education of medical professionals, allied nurses and health providers.
CRRMH Director, Professor David Perkins said integrated care is about reversing current trends in processes and policies to be more centred around patient care rather than the provider.
This reversal will ensure specialised care for the patient and a change in the current system which treats problems separately rather than together.
Upcoming IFIC events
The International Foundation of Integrated Care (IFIC), in partnership with General Practice New Zealand (GPNZ) and Healthcare Quality and Safety Commission (HCQSC) , will present the 4rd World Congress on Integrated Care “Investing in our Future: Improving the Health of People and Communities” to take place in Wellington, New Zealand 23 to 25 November. Watch this space for more information on IFIC events and progress.
Centre welcomes new Senior Development Officer
The Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health would like to extend a warm welcome to Vanessa Delaney who has been appointed as the new Senior Development Officer.
Vanessa, can you please tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I have been working in the communications field for over 25 years in various roles for a variety of organisations, including Taste Orange, Livestock Health and Pest Authorities, Queensland Ballet and the Samaritans Foundation. Before taking on my new role with the Centre, I was the Media Manager with Western NSW Local Health District; which was a challenging but really interesting job where I learnt a lot about rural health.
My family and I moved to Orange from Brisbane six years ago and we love the lifestyle here – although we are still getting used to the cold winters!
What attracted you to this role working in rural and remote mental health.
My former position in health involved working in the mental health space and this is an area I am very interested in. The issue of mental health affects all of us and it’s great to see a growing emphasis on this part of our overall health. The Senior Development Officer role is a little bit different to the roles I have undertaken in the past as it is not primarily about communications and media, having a more strategic and developmental focus and this is an area I want to develop my skills further in.
What are you looking forward to most about the role?
Developing my skills further and bringing my existing skill set to the role. Every time I take on a new role I see it as an opportunity to learn something new or a different/better way of doing things. We should never stop learning. I am looking forward to working with the CRRMH team in making some real and significant progress in improving mental health and wellbeing in our rural and remote communities.
What are some of your favourite activities which you do to keep mentally healthy?
My favourite thing to do to calm my mind and stay mentally healthy is to listen to music – I believe music has the power to lift your mood and make you happy. I also like to walk my dog Lillie every day and to read in the sunshine or in front of the fireplace – depending on the season! I also find just getting in the car and taking a long drive is good for my stress levels, especially if my destination is unknown.
Is there a place in the world which is special to you and why?
The Pacific North West in the United States – we lived in Portland Oregon for a number of years and loved the carefree outdoor lifestyle of hiking and camping – the scenery there is quite stunning. It was a great experience to live in another country and I made some amazing friends there whom I have very fond memories of. My youngest daughter was born there too so that makes it very special – we will always be connected to Portland because of that.
What are three new things or skills you would like to learn?
I would like to learn how to sing well, how to change a flat tyre and how to speak another language.
How can people get in touch with you?
Centre's Community Advisory Committee welcomes new members
From L to R: Prof Alan Hayes, Family Action Centre, UoN; Prof David Perkins, Director CRRMH; Sonia O'Keefe, Chair, NSW Farmers Rural Affairs Committee; Marie Russell AM, Chairperson, CRRMH; Andrew Rowe Principal Inspector, SafeWork NSW; Dr Deborah Hartmann, Family Action Centre, UoN; Prof Richard Bischoff, University of Nebraska; Fiona Livingstone, Farm-Link, Hazel Dalton, CRRMH, Tegan Cotterill, Projects Coordinator, Hunter Institute of Mental Health; Beryl Brain, CWA; Sue West, Chair Anglicare Wester NSW
It is with great pleasure that the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health (CRRMH) welcomed new members as part of the Centre’s Community Advisory Committee (CAC).
Greg Sullivan, Policy Director, NSW Minerals Council is replacing Andrew McMahon and Andrew Rowe, Principal Inspector, Construction Services, SafeWork NSW is replacing Tony Williams.
The CRRMH also welcomed special guest Prof Alan Hayes, Distinguished Professor of Family Studies and Director, Family Action Centre, University of Newcastle; Dr Deborah Hartmann, Associate Director/ Lecturer, Family Action Centre, University of Newcastle and Sonia Muir, Manager Business and Social Resilience Programs, Department of Primary Industries who represented Kate Lorimer-Ward.
The Centre is fortunate to have commitee members with so much experience, knowledge and insight into mental health issues.
Guest speakers included Prof Richard Bischoff from University of Nebraska as well as Senior Project Officer, Farm-Link, Fiona Livingstone.
Prof Richard Bischoff spoke about using technology and collaborative care models to overcome mental health care disparities in rural areas.
Richard has been working in this space for 18 years and has discovered that building on family and community capabilities are key components to addressing the disparities in rural mental health care. Richard also spoke to ABC Central West while he was in Orange and you can listen to his interview here: Interview with ABC presenter Julie Clift
Fiona presented on the Farm-Link program including the outcomes from the pilot Aboriginal Suicide Prevention Workshop (ASPW) as well as the future direction of the Farm-Link program.
Recently, Fiona and colleague Nathan Blacklock attended a conference in Alice Springs. Following on from a successful presentation, they were interviewed by ABC Rural discussing how a successful rural suicide prevention program has informed a new initiative for Indigenous people.
You can listen to this interview here: Interview with ABC Rural
OUT NOW: The 2016 Glove Box Guide to Mental Health
This year's Glove Box Guide to Mental Health was officially launched by the Minister of Mental Health, the Hon. Pru Goward (via video) on Thursday 6th October during mental health month.
The theme for the Guide is #ServiceYourMind.
Personal stories touch on what it feels like to struggle with a mental illness and why seeking help is important. Also what do people have in their toolkit to help them cope or get through tough times and what has helped with their recovery.
This year a total of 44,000 copies of the Guide will reach almost 115,000 readers across NSW and beyond. An extra 25,000 will be distributed by the Centre and RAMHP workers in the field.
The 2016 Glove Box Guide to Mental Health is available with The Land after Thursday 6th of October online at
We look forward to sharing photos from across NSW during mental health month.
L to R: RAMHP Coordinators Helen Sheather and Merilyn Limbrick with Jan Grey from Riverina Bluebell at Henty Field Days
Invitation to Seminar with Prof Richard Bischoff
The Centre is hosting an upcoming seminar with Professor Richard Bischoff from the University of Nebraska. The topic is: 'Building on Family and Community Capabilities - Innovative Approaches to Rural Mental Health'.
DATE: Wednesday, 18th March, 2016
WHEN: 1pm-2pm (Light lunch will be served from 12:45pm)
WHERE: Conference Room B, Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health, Bloomfield Hospital, Forest Rd Orange
Topics discussed include:
- Increasing access to high quality mental health care in rural areas;
- Using technologies to deliver integrated mental health care;
- Role of community capacity building in overcoming mental health care disparities.
Who should attend?
- Health service organisations and providers
- Researchers and rural health practitioners
- Non-Government organisations
More about Richard Bischoff
Richard is the Gwendolyn A. Newkirk Professor of Leadership and Departmental Chair of Child, Youth and Family Studies at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.
His reasearch is in the area of mental health care disparities. It includes ways family therapists can make a difference by collaborating with families and communities to determine health care provision and needs. He has published research on experiences with mental illness through the eyes of rural patients and families. He is currently conducting research in rural Nebraska, USA to determine the effectiveness of an innovative approach to overcoming mental health care disparities that intergrates community capacity building, collaborative care and tele-mental health.
For more info: Seminar Invitation
Centre appoints new Research Leader and Senior Research Fellow
NEW POSITION: Associate Professor Research Leader
The University of Newcastle has an exciting NEW role located in Orange NSW.
To apply for this role, please download the selection criteria.