Mental health connection

Monday, February 19, 2018

A special event at Maroondah Prevention and Recovery Care (PARC) has shone a light on the importance of cultural inclusiveness as a way to provide better mental health care to local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The event, which was held on Tuesday February 6, included a Welcome to Country from senior Wurundjeri elder Aunty Joy, a smoking ceremony, and an opportunity to view Aboriginal artwork which has been specifically created for the service. The name of a room at Maroondah PARC, which celebrates the connection between Aboriginal culture and healthcare, was also revealed, and will be known as Bik-Jornung, meaning “a pleasant place”.

Enhancing services and providing a better environment to meet the needs of the local Aboriginal community has been a key priority for Maroondah PARC.

Run in partnership between Eastern Health and Mind, a leading community managed specialist mental health provider, Maroondah PARC provides a safe and supportive environment for people who do not need hospital care to treat their mental ill-health, but do require temporary support.

It provides its residents an opportunity to participate in a community based program which offers everything from learning life skills, including how to better manage their illness and regain self-esteem, to participating in community groups and activities.

In recent years, there has been a renewed effort to engage with the local Indigenous community with an Aboriginal Clinical Engagement Project for Maroondah Mental Health Services.

Eastern Health Aboriginal Engagement Clinician Kate Locastro said improvements have included making PARC services more accessible for Aboriginal people.

“The installation of Aboriginal specific information boards, and feature walls painted by volunteer Eddie Thomson so they are in-line with Aboriginal culture, are among the positive changes we have made.”

Maroondah PARC Service Manager Anne Dooley said: “Mind and Eastern Health are working together to ensure Aboriginal people recognise Maroondah PARC as a place of healing and support in ways that are meaningful to them.”

Ms Locastro said the Aboriginal community is increasingly becoming more aware of the services Eastern Health provides, with positive feedback and increased referrals.

“We certainly recognise there is still a lot of hard work to do. However, there have been some encouraging signs. We look forward to working with the Aboriginal community in the region on how we can continue to enhance mental health care in the east.”