Tamworth To Host Major Mental Health Planning And Coordination Conference

Tue Oct 1, 2013

One of the most significant mental health conferences ever held in regional Australia will be hosted in Tamworth over two days later this month.

Coinciding with Mental Health Month which starts today, the New England Partners in Recovery (PIR) conference will bring a range of sector professionals, carers, people with lived experience of mental illness and the general community together to focus on how mental health support can be better managed through strategic coordination and community engagement.

The conference follows the recent announcement of the landmark New England PIR program, a new approach to mental health support being coordinated by RichmondPRA in partnership with seven other local mental health and community service providers, and public and private health services.

The PIR conference will enable mental health stakeholders to map out how the local PIR program can work most effectively, with an emphasis on support providers and recipients interacting more cohesively to ensure better mental health outcomes.

Keynote speakers include NSW Mental Health Commissioner John Feneley and National Mental Health Commissioner Janet Meagher.

A series of breakout sessions will enable feedback and input to be collected and fed into the broader PIR objective. These will be facilitated by well-known Queensland based mental educator and trainer, Helen Glover.

RichmondPRA CEO Pam Rutledge said the conference would be a milestone in terms of the local PIR program, and also how mental health is dealt with in regional Australia more generally.

“This isn’t an industry talk fest – it’s a chance for everyone and anyone who is affected by mental illness or who works in the sector to provide input on making recovery journeys faster and smoother,” Ms Rutledge said.

“The Partners in Recovery program is all about ensuring that people with a lived experience of mental illness get the right help at the right time.

“A key to that is ensuring that community-based service providers work more cohesively and to raise awareness of mental illness amongst the general population.

“That’s why the conference is bringing together sector experts, people who live with mental illness and the general community.

“It’s often overlooked that everyone from next door neighbours and teachers through to sporting coaches and hairdressers can play a role when it comes to mental health management.

“The chances of an individual’s recovery journey being successful often hinge on understanding, support and encouragement from every day people in the community.

“That’s why the conference is open to the general public, giving attendees a chance to have a say or just listen in.”

RichmondPRA New England / North West NSW Service Manager Jim Booth said the conference was the culmination of months of planning.

“The willingness of the community to participate and cooperate in the conference has been extremely pleasing,” Mr Booth said.

“Everything is in place for the local Partners in Recovery consortium to gather invaluable information on how mental health support can be taken to another level.

“We’re encouraging everyone with an experience or interest in mental illness to attend.

“The indications are that the conference will become a template for other mental health service providers and communities across Australia.”

The conference will be held at the Tamworth Jockey Club across Wednesday 23rd and Thursday 24th October. It will also encompass the Tamworth Business Chamber monthly breakfast for October (Mental Health month) with RichmondPRA CEO, Pam Rutledge, addressing the breakfast on the topic, Mental Health in the Workplace.

Anyone wishing to attend or requiring further information should contact RichmondPRA on 6766 7827.


  • 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 will run 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 will 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 will be 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 PIR program
    • In Tamworth, PIR services will be delivered by Billabong Clubhouse and Anglicare Northern Inland.
    • In Armidale, PIR services will be delivered by EACH Social and Community Health and Yaraandoo.
    • In Moree, PIR services will be delivered by Anglicare Northern Inland, with additional service delivery coming from RichmondPRA.
    • In Narrabri, PIR services will be delivered by Challenge Disability Services and North West Regional Community care.
    • In Gunnedah, PIR services will be delivered by North West Regional Community Care and Billabong Clubhouse.
    • In Inverell, PIR services will be delivered by The Benevolent Society.
    • In Glen Innes, PIR services will be delivered by EACH Social and Community Health.
    • In Tenterfield, PIR services will be 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 55 years.

Media enquiries:
Matthew Watson 0417 691 884