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Thursday, 13 March 2008
Page: 1831


Mr SIDEBOTTOM (12:46 PM) —Last Friday, I had the great privilege of being with our Minister for Health and Ageing, Nicola Roxon. We were able to announce $1.25 million funding for a wonderful example of self-help in the provision of mental health services in Tasmania, particularly on the north-west coast of Tassie. The funding was for the Sisters of Charity Outreach program based at 68 Oldaker Street, Devonport.

The Sisters of Charity Outreach is the only specialist grief and trauma service in Tasmania. I would like to share with you their mission statement, because I think it encapsulates exactly the philosophy of their service and those who provide it. The mission statement says:

At Outreach we believe that as people who are hurting seek to adjust to their changed circumstances they deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, offered non-judgemental support and receive the very best professional care available. In time they will, most likely, lead their own healing.

The program, which I can only offer in summary, is quite extraordinary. It is a non-government, not-for-profit group, providing specialist grief and trauma counselling services, that makes a significant contribution to mental health services in Tasmania. People whose poor emotional or psychological health is trauma or grief related—those, for example, with histories of severe abuse or trauma, a recent traumatic experience or complicated grief, including those at risk of suicide or who are suicide bereaved—are poorly resourced in Tasmania, particularly on the north-west coast. Outreach provides specialist support to these individuals and families by providing a variety of services which I would like to share with you—and which will be funded over the next four years to the amount of $1.25 million by the Rudd government. This was a commitment, I might add, in our election campaign, and I am very honoured that it is part and parcel of the Rudd assurance to deliver on commitments.

Outreach provides counselling services for children, adolescents and adults, using evidence based practice and incorporating systemic intervention to include—I find this really interesting—partners, parents and whole families, where applicable. It addresses suicide ideation, suicide attempts and the impact issues associated with suicide, with over half of its current clients just related to suicide, parasuicide or suicidal disorders. It makes professional support available to all, regardless of financial means, by providing counselling on a capacity-to-pay basis. Many cannot pay; they do not have the capacity. Outreach conducts community and health professional education and training programs in grief and trauma support, including suicide awareness, minimisation, intervention and postvention. It provides clinical supervision for professionals working with suicidal, bereaved and traumatised people. And it receives referrals from a wide range of medical professionals plus mental health, community and welfare providers. It is quite an extensive service. It is unique. It is given in the belief that all people who are traumatised or in grief have a right to seek some form of counsel and support. I am really pleased that we are able to support it with the $1.25m funding.

The sister, who was also the doctor and psychologist, who was responsible for the establishment of the Sisters of Charity Outreach, Colleen Jackson, has now left and moved on to Melbourne, where her services will be used quite extensively. I wish the organisation and the services, particularly under the current management of Ms Linda MacKay, all the best. I know they are really excited about this support and are looking forward to providing this wonderful unsurpassed service in the north-west coast and for Tasmania. They have now got a full-time psychologist hopefully joining their staff very soon to provide this invaluable service.