New England Mental Health Forum In Armidale To Mark Achievements And Plan Next Phase Of “Partners In Recovery”

Tue Oct 6, 2015

Mental health professionals, advocates and people with mental health issues from across the New England and North West New South Wales will converge on Armidale to plan the most ambitious phase of the regions Partners in Recovery (PIR) program.

Coinciding with Mental Health Month, the gathering will also evaluate achievements and milestones of PIR and enable more collaborative input so the program can be taken to another level through to 2016.

Since launching two years ago PIR has received more than 300 referrals of locals who live with mental health issues.

Significantly, nearly 75 percent of local people targeted for support under PIR have been reached, which is above the national PIR reach rate of 65 percent. One third of people assisted locally are Aboriginal compared to 11 percent nationally.

Specialised recovery integration plans have seen nearly 30 organisations across the region commit to a shared understanding of mental health solutions. These plans involve the sharing of expertise and training and research opportunities to bring down barriers that can hamper mental health recovery.

Local people referred for help have benefited from better coordination and cohesion between the service and support providers and community participants, ensuring faster and more effective recovery journeys and less chances of falling through the cracks.

Better communication and insight to local mental health issues has enabled PIR to identify the top ten local areas of mental health support need which are help for psychological distress, daytime activities, physical health, social interaction, employment, handling money and budgeting, accessing multiple services, finding accommodation, diet, and obtaining clear information on recovery progress and treatment.

Resources and expertise are being channeled accordingly to ensure these areas are addressed.

“We’ve achieved extraordinary and historic change in the way local people with mental health issues are assisted,” RichmondPRA New England Manager Jim Booth said.

“People with mental health issues are no longer left to navigate their own way through a multitude of services and supports.

“Services and supports are now better connected, meaning people in need of help are taken on a tailormade and monitored recovery journey.

“That’s absolutely critical when people need help on multiple fronts such as finding the right medical and psychological support, employment, housing and getting involved with everyday community activities.”

RichmonmdPRA CEO Pamela Rutledge said the third year of PIR in the region would be the busiest phase yet, with a focus on ensuring many more referrals, engaging another 20 organisations to participate in the initiative and reducing stigma around mental health.

“Under the program we’re seeing so many obstacles around mental health support eliminated,” Ms Rutledge said.

“There’s a whole new level of understanding and cooperation between organisations that have something to offer when it comes to helping people with mental health issues.

“It’s a wonderful outcome too that people with a lived experience are having a leading say in what can be done better and how.”


  • The New England / North Western Partners In Recovery Program (PIR) was announced in July 2013;
  • Funded by the Commonwealth Government, the $5.2 million dollar local PIR program runs from July 2013 to June 2016;
  • PIR helps people with severe and persistent mental illnesses by ensuring better cohesion between local service and support providers;
  • Instead of being passed between multiple service and support providers with different offerings, people with a mental illness can now be guided to the help they need under a one-stop-shop structure, ensuring tailor-made and start-to-finish service and support. For example, an individual in need of accommodation and employment services is guided toward and connected with the most suitable services in the timeliest manner. This reduces the chances of people with mental illness abandoning recovery programs and ending up in costly and isolating hospitals, institutions and jails;
  • RichmondPRA has partnered with seven other local agencies spread across the region to deliver the local PIR program
    • In Tamworth, PIR services are being delivered by Billabong Clubhouse and Anglicare Northern Inland.
    • In Armidale, PIR services are being delivered by EACH Social and Community Health.
    • In Moree, PIR services are being delivered by Anglicare Northern Inland, with additional service delivery coming from RichmondPRA.
    • In Narrabri, PIR services are being delivered by Challenge Community Services and North West Regional Community care.
    • In Gunnedah, PIR services are being delivered by North West Regional Community Care.
    • In Inverell, PIR services are being delivered by The Benevolent Society.
    • In Glen Innes, PIR services are being delivered by EACH Social and Community Health.
    • In Tenterfield, PIR services are being delivered by the Benevolent Society.

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 60 years.


When: Wednesday 28 October, 10.00am – 5.00pm
Where: Armidale City Bowling Club, 92-96 Dumaresq Street.

MEDIA ENQUIRIES: Jim Booth – 0409 999752 / Matthew Watson – 0417 691 884