Singleton residents have become mental health first aiders thanks to funding through Hunter Valley Operations’ (HVO) community grants program.
Novaskill Hunter Valley has provided 18 free places for its Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) courses this year with its HVO Round 1 2023 community grant.
Novaskill Operations Manager, Kelly Cooper said by becoming a Mental Health First Aider, people are better able to support friends, family and colleagues through difficult times.
“Mental Health First Aid training gives people practical skills to be able to support someone with a mental health problem, or worsening of a mental health problem,” Kelly said.
“Those skills include being able to recognise common mental health problems in others, knowing how to respond and safely provide initial help, as well as knowing how to and where to seek appropriate, professional help.”
Kelly said the Hunter Valley Operations funded free places have been taken up by Singleton community members including volunteers at the Singleton Neighbourhood Centre, as well as people working in local disability support organisations, sporting organisations and local high schools.
Courses have been held in June and August, with another course coming up on October 26 and 27. The June course was the first time Novaskill Hunter Valley has offered MHFA locally.
The Singleton-based not-for-profit training provider is the only locally-based training provider to offer MHFA training.
“We are very appreciative of HVO’s support which has helped us to get the training to people who will really benefit from it but may not have had the capacity to fund a place,” Kelly said.
“Our initial goal is to train 100 local people. If those people share their skills with or help five people, then 500 people benefit.
“The feedback from participants about the value and benefits of the training to date has been fantastic.
“Participants have said they will use the tools we share in the course daily in their work and community roles and with family and friends.”
“One participant said ‘I have already put the knowledge gained into action over the last few days during work.
“I feel very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to attend and complete my mental health first aid thanks to Hunter Valley Operations.’”
While free funded places have been allocated, Kelly said there were limited places remaining in the course on 26 October and 27.
HVO Environment And Community Manager, Andrew Speechly said the mine’s community grants are awarded twice a year to smaller-scale projects of not-for-profit organisations working in the Muswellbrook, Singleton, Cessnock, Maitland or Upper Hunter local government areas.
“We look to fund projects that make our community stronger, improve the skills or lives of local people or protect and enhance the environment,” Andrew said.
“Funding mental health training helps to build capacity to make our community more resilient.”
More than 90 projects have received more than $380,000 in HVO community grant funding since 2018. This is in addition to its other charity partnerships, sponsorships and workplace giving programs.
Hunter Valley Operations operates the HVO South and HVO North open cut coal mines north of Singleton. Its 1,200 plus strong workforce mines some of the world’s highest quality thermal coal as well as metallurgical coal. HVO is proposing to extend its operations to 2050. This will support around 1,500 ongoing local jobs and continue support for local businesses, charities and community infrastructure and projects.