Innovative partnership provides funding to Hunter’s First Nations Mental Health Program 

Innovative partnership provides funding to Hunter’s First Nations Mental Health Program 

Awabakal LTD., the Hunter New England and Central Coast Primary Health Network (HNECC PHN) and nib foundation have partnered to deliver a community-led Social and Emotional Wellbeing program for the Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Maitland and Port Stephens regions. 

HNECC PHN and nib foundation have both contributed funding allocations to support the continued growth of Awabakal’s program which aims to help mob in the community to access and engage with a wide range of culturally safe clinical and social prescribing services. 

The SEWB program originally funded by HNECC PHN provides a twelve-week group program to the community which covers topics including keeping mentally well, connection, understanding emotions and accessing support, whilst engaging in a range of culturally appropriate activities.

The Social Emotional Wellbeing team also provide one-on-one support through Care Coordination and Peer Navigation to improve the lives of mob living with mental health conditions.  

Chief Executive Officer of Awabakal Ltd, Jason Smith said that Awabakal Ltd. Supports around 10,000 Aboriginal people across Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Maitland, and Port Stephens, which equates to around one-third of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population in the region. 

“It is widely acknowledged that social and emotional wellbeing factors are a significant contributor in the intergenerational health concerns facing our communities,” Jason said.

“Our established partnership with the PHN, delivering this community-led social and emotional wellbeing program has been instrumental in understanding the factors that impact our people and coordinating multi-layered support networks to improve our wellbeing. 

“The ability to work in partnership with nib foundation to extend this support will have a significant and impactful effect on our community as we move into an ever increasingly important stage of closing the gap.”

PHN Chief Executive Officer, Richard Nankervis, explained that a crucial part of the PHN’s strategy is to partner with others to increase access to primary care across the region.  

“This partnership with Awabakal and nib foundation is the result of considered collaboration over time and a first of its kind for the PHN. We welcome this innovative approach as a first of many opportunities to work with like-minded organisations who are aligned to our values and mission,” Richard said.

The partnership funding will expand and extend the program allowing for more community members to access the group program, one-on-one support via social worker and access to care coordination. 

nib Foundation Executive Officer, Amy Tribe said the collaboration will assist in building knowledge on success factors for linking First Nations patients with social supports and strengthening community connections.  

“The additional funding provides an innovative way to help the existing Social and Emotional Wellbeing program reach more Awabakal clients, building on Awabakal and the PHN’s successful delivery of health service programs,” Amy said.

“Providing funding to the program takes nib foundation closer to our goal of increasing access to culturally safe and sustainable health and social wellbeing supports.”

The funding also allows for an increase in resources including transport, food, and cultural activities for the therapeutic groups program.

Funding provided to evaluate the program will give insight into the importance of holistic culturally specific health services and the impact that they have on community members living with Mental Health conditions.  

Announced in the 2023 Federal budget, the Government committed $100 million for a Commonwealth Outcomes Fund and $11.6 million for a Social Enterprise Development Initiative to help social enterprises become investment-ready.

This unique partnership is an example of a local story, pointing to this national movement. 

Awabakal LTD’s Social and Emotional Wellbeing program can be accessed by Awabakal LTD medical patients by referral.

IMAGE | Previous event hosted by Awabakal LTD.

Primary Health Network

Primary Health Network is a not for profit organisation primarily funded by the Commonwealth government to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the primary health care system. HNECC PHN supports GPs and other health professionals, and delivers a range of programs.

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