Mental Health “Game-Changer”: Local Working Group Formed To Consult With Landmark Mental Illness Support Program For GREAT LAKES / GREATER TAREE / GLOUCESTER

Thu Jun 12, 2014

A working group largely made up of people with lived experiences of mental illness has been formed to develop and implement projects with the mid north coast’s new Partners in Recovery (PIR) Program.

Delivered by local mental health support provider RichmondPRA, the three-year PIR program ensures that existing resources are better utilised so that people people with a lived experience of mental illness recover faster by getting the right help at the right time.

A central philosophy of PIR is that individuals with lived experience with mental illness should have a platform to develop and implement local support and recovery initiatives - hence the formation of the working group, called Recovery in Action.

Recovery in Action is made up of ten local identities who either live with a mental illness or have experience and expertise in offering mental illness care and support.

The local identities are Linda Lee, Scott Gourlay, Juanita Vernon, Judy Hodgkinson, Mark Matthews, Trish Price, Jayne Cumberland, Tanya Beaver, Beth Fuller, Michelle Wiseman, Bob Aplin, Diane Hamilton and Chris Cassar.

RichmondRPA Team Leader and Recovery in Action supportive member Chris Cassar said forming the group was a milestone in terms of how local mental health support is delivered.

“Sometimes the best intentions and resources aren’t enough for people who live with a mental illness,” Mr Cassar said.

“It’s very easy for people in need of help to get lost in the system, fall through the cracks and give up on their recovery journey.

“We need services that are people-focused and build on the hopes, dreams and strengths of individuals with a lived experience.

“The formation of the Recovery in Action working group means we now have the best collective expertise on tap to achieve this mission and the objectives of Partners in Recovery.

“We’ve got people who know what it’s like to live with mental illness in the driver’s seat deciding on the best solutions.”

Recovery in Action member Scott Gourlay, a Taree resident who lives with depression and anxiety, said the formation of Recovery in Action was a mental health game-changer.

“Few people know more about how to fine tune mental illness recovery journeys than people with a lived experience,” Mr Gourlay said.

“Our mission is to create a platform for people with lived experience so they can be heard.”

“From there we can tailor-make local projects and initiatives that best lead people who need help to recovery.

“This revolves around the fact that people with a lived experience of mental illness can have a valued place in the community and live a fulfilling life.”

To start this process, the Recovery in Action members have called on the community to attend and participate in the upcoming mental health forum being held at Club Taree on Tuesday 24 June, starting at 9.00am and finishing at 4.00pm.

Guest speakers include RichmondPRA General Manager Inclusion and NSW Deputy Mental Health Commissioner Fay Jackson and ABC Broadcaster Craig Hamilton, both of whom have a lived experience of mental illness.

“This forum is an opportunity for everyone and anyone with an interest in mental health to openly discuss service issues and gaps so the working group can plan for future endeavours” Mr Gourlay added.

For further information on the forum, contact PH – 9393 9415, email at or visit

The $980,000 Greater Taree / Great Lakes / Gloucester PIR initiative is funded by the Commonwealth Government and Hunter Medicare Local is the lead agency.

RichmondPRA is a not-for-profit organisation providing recovery focussed support programs, accommodation and hope for people with a mental illness in New South Wales and Queensland. Advocating community-based assistance, it is a leading mental health support provider that has been in operation for more than 55 years.


The Recovery In Action Working Group will meet outside Club Taree at 10.30am on Thursday 12 June to discuss the upcoming forum. Media outlets are invited to take pictures and conduct interviews.

Media enquiries:
Matthew Watson, 0417 691 884
Chris Cassar, 0404 572 499