The following story is not unusual.
“I am 17 and used to live with my mum and her boyfriend but I had to leave. Mum’s boyfriend used to hit me when mum wasn’t around and that was a lot because she worked at a pub and was often working over 40 hours a week. He used to scream at me and make me clean up after him and his friends. I didn’t like his friends, some of them would stare at me all the time and it scared me.
I knew mum wouldn’t believe me if I told her so one day when she was at work and her boyfriend was asleep I took the backpack I had packed under my bed and ran away.
I had no place I could go, and I couldn’t return home, I would get into more trouble. I stayed the first few nights at some friends’ houses but I didn’t want their parents to know I was around in case my mum was looking for me. I couldn’t go back there.
I stopped going to school, just in case my mum turned up or called the school and the teachers told her I was there.
I went to Centrelink to talk to them about getting some money as I knew that my friends wouldn’t be able to help me for long.
It was really hard because I had to prove that I was not a dependent. This took a really long time and I thought for a while that it was never going to happen.
Finally I started receiving payments but keeping them was so hard. It is really hard to look for a job when you’ve got nowhere to live or shower.
I decided that I would look for a house but the real estates would ask how much I was getting paid and they wouldn’t even put my applications in, when I asked why I haven’t been accepted, they said that I wouldn’t be able to afford the rent.”
Youth homelessness continues to be one of the major issues that Grampians Community Health and other social support agencies are confronted with in our community.
Homelessness week is held from 4th to 10th of August 2019, and Grampians Community Health asks all people to consider some of the underlying causes of why our young people, just like in the true story above find themselves homeless.
The disparity between Youth allowance or Newstart allowance and the average cost of housing is huge, Australia wide, this disparity exists even with low income earners and rental prices.
- A person on Youth Allowance under 18 years of age living at home earns $249.20 fortnightly, and if a person on Youth Allowance under 18 years of age living out of home earns $455.20 fortnightly.
- A person on Newstart allowance that is a single adult with no children earns $489.70 fortnightly, and a person on Newstart allowance that is single with dependent children earn $529.80 fortnightly.
- The average cost of a 1 bedroom place in the Stawell area is $200 per week, on average rentals are costing on average $165 to $440 per week through Australia.
As part of moving into a rental there must be 2 weeks and Bond paid prior to collecting the keys, which isn’t always thought about either.
If you add on the average cost of amenities it is understandable that our homelessness rate has increased by 11% in the past 8 years.
Grampians Community Health has confidential support services for people who are, or may be facing homelessness. Anyone wishing to access any of the Grampians Community Health services can easily do so by calling 5358 7400.
We are holding a breakfast on Friday the 9th August 8AM at 8-22 Patrick Street Stawell, to help bring awareness of homelessness to the community, if you would like to join us, please call 03 5358 7400 to RSVP
Wheelchair accessible vehicle comes in Spades at Grampians Community Health
It isn’t often adults choose to sit in the back seat of a car, it’s like sitting in the middle seat on a plane – the vision isn’t good, there isn’t as much legroom, it’s just not as comfortable. For some people with limited mobility their travel options were limited, sit up the back in wheelchair accessible buses or rely on someone to physically lift and transfer them into and out of a car. Grampians Community Health now has a Toyota Spade available to the community thanks to Jamie Erwin and the Grampians Toy Club and a number of generous community and business donors.
The Toyota Spade is a stylish, fully imported factory purpose-built vehicle, designed for people with mobility and wheelchair needs.
The Spade features an electric sliding left-hand door, high roofline and low flat floor; it also has a front passenger seat that is a ‘Toyota’ wheelchair. This means that someone needing a wheelchair can enter and alight the vehicle from the passenger side with ease, whilst staying comfortably seated in the wheelchair.
Grampians Community Health CEO Mr Greg Little said that when he was contacted by Jamie Erwin from the Grampians Toy Club with the offer of the car he had no hesitation in agreeing to the vehicle.
“Grampians Community Health provides vehicles for use in our older persons groups and NDIS programs as well as the community car for non-emergency patient transport so to have a vehicle specifically manufactured to transport people in a wheelchair in the fleet will provide an even better service for people in our community and their carers” said Greg.
Jamie Erwin of the Grampians Toy Club came up with the concept of purchasing a Toyota Spade after seeing a need in our community to allow people needing wheelchairs or with limited mobility to travel with dignity in cars, club members fully agreed to support the purchase.
“Often people end up in a wheelchair through illness, accident or frailty and due to this situation, they lose some of the things we take for granted, such as how we get around in cars. The Spade allows them to sit up front, next to the driver for good social interaction, good visibility, dignity and a feeling of belonging rather than feeling relegated to the back of a van.” said Jamie
Donations towards the purchase of the vehicle were provided by Grampians Toy Club, Grampians Community Health, Grampians Excavation and Soil Yard, Rick Steel, West Cranes and Access Hire, CKS Engineering, Monaghans Real Estate, Corinella Farms, Stawell Toyota, Moore Bulk Haulage, Anglican Parish Church Stawell, Northern Grampians Shire Council, Stawell Auto Wreckers and Heather & Robert Oliver in Memory of their son Peter Oliver.
Greg Little said that the vehicle couldn’t have been purchased without the donations and Grampians Community Health was grateful for their foresight in contributing to this car.
“As a charity, donations to Grampians Community Health are fully tax deductible, however I am sure in this instance that was the last thing on the donor’s minds as they genuinely wanted to provide something in our community that could change someone’s life,” said Greg.
The Toyota Spade will be available for community use through the Grampians Community Health ‘Community Car’ program. To access any of Grampians Community Health services phone 03 53587400.
Grampians Community Health is a not for profit charity with DGR status for tax-deductible donations towards its programs.
Grampians Toy Club is a community organisation that is primarily a Classic and Collectible Vehicle Club with a mission of holding various fundraising activities that contributes money back into the community of Stawell.
Grampians Community Health warming up winter with Coats for the Cold
Employees at Grampians Community Health have started a new local initiative to help people fight of the cold this winter.
Feeling Cold? Take a coat
Want to help? Leave one
One of the most daunting situations during winter, is to keep yourself warm, and not everyone always has the means to do that. With that in mind, employees at Grampians Community Health are joining forces to help people who need a warm coat.
Grampians Community Health Chief Executive Greg Little said that this winter has come in quickly, very cold and wet so far in the region with little warning that the weather would turn as quickly as it did.
“Winter can be a tough for many people in our region, and we need to consider that older people, homeless people and others who may be going through a rough time suffers the most”, said Mr Little
Kathy Day, General Manager of People and Community Support said that at the entrance of the Stawell Health and Community Centre in Patrick Street Grampians Community Health has installed a rack for donated winter coats.
“People are coming in and getting a coat if they need, and others are just leaving one to help out” said Mrs Day
Since the installation of the rack in Stawell, Grampians Community Health have had great response from staff and the community, and are planning on setting up racks in its Horsham and Ararat offices.
Mr Little said “It is great to see people getting involved by donating a coat, it is such a simple way to make sure people are warm and cared for in the winter season”
“We would welcome anyone who has a coat in the wardrobe they are not using to bring it in and hang it on the rack for someone to benefit from”, he added.
Anyone wishing to access any of the Grampians Community Health services including homelessness or aged care services can easily do so by calling 5358 7400.
Mental Awareness Sessions
Jeremey Forbes from HALT – Hope and Assistance to Local Tradies
Knowing what to look for and where to go for help in the Grampians and Wimmera is behind a new program being brought to the area this week.
Money raised from the Healthy Blokes Over 40’s Football Match held in Ararat last August is being utilised to promote Men’s Health, and mental health in particular. HALT (Hope and Assistance to Local Tradies) will be partnering with Grampians Community Health to provide this unique insight into dealing with mental health and local responses.
Greg Little CEO of Grampians Community Health said that a commitment was made by Grampians Community Health to use the funds from the extremely well supported Over 40’s Footy match to hold Mental Health awareness raising sessions and First Aid courses at places where men frequent.
“The HALT sessions are the first step in honouring this commitment and investing in the mental health of blokes in our community” said Mr Little.
HALT was developed by Jeremy Forbes from Castlemaine, a builder and an artist with the support of a concerned community. Jeremy went on to host the first ‘SAVE YOUR BACON’ Brekky in November 2013, for those in the building industry. It all started in a timber yard of a local hardware store, Rotarians behind the BBQ cooking a breakfast of bacon and eggs and a free goodie bag for all who attended.
Jermey will host next week’s sessions in the region, conveying a positive message and awareness to workers that are traditionally less likely to come forward when faced with their own mental health issues.
Jeremey Forbes explains that HALT aims to remind people they are valued by their community, and direct them to support services, both local and national, should they need them.
Kathleen Doole from Grampians Community Health said that although HALT’s original focus was on the trade sector we are excited to extend the sessions in the Grampians to local football clubs, Men’s sheds, and Local businesses.
Grampians Community Health are also holding an open session in Stawell on Wednesday 5th June at 12pm until 1pm for anyone who might be interested in hearing Jeremy’s inspirational talk. For more information about the Grampians Community Health Halt events or if you are interested in having a HALT session later on in the year please contact Grampians Community Health 03 5358 7400.
Anyone wishing to access any of the Grampians Community Health services can easily do so by calling 03 5358 7400.
Launch of Connecting2Community in the Grampians Wimmera Region
Connecting2Community is an initiative between Grampians Community Health and Ballarat Community Health is bringing a new peer designed and led model of mental health support to the Grampians/Wimmera region. Called Connecting2community, the program has been launched with the support of the Western Victorian Primary Health Network.
Launching the service in Horsham, the key drivers of the program were PHN CEO Dr Leanne Beagley, Sean Duffy CEO of Ballarat Community Health BCH and Greg Little CEO of Grampians Community Health as well as the peer workers who will deliver the service, Lucy Beaton, Shannan Flood, Rick Corney and Sara Cunningham-Smith who are all individuals with a lived experience and hold a formal qualification in Community Services.
It is great to see local services coming together, Grampians Community Health Chief Executive Greg Little said. “There was a gap identified in the service provision for people experiencing mental illness and a joint initiative between BCH and GCH has enabled us to deliver the exciting new program to the Wimmera and surrounds.”
The program is designed to help people tackle their mental illness through support, encouragement and advice as needed, to foster hope and determination for change. The program will see individuals paired with a peer worker to work together for six sessions to identify a goal and achieve an outcome.
“We will help individuals to identify and achieve goals big or small to work towards a rewarding positive future. That is why we are so excited about this program, this is an opportunity for people in our region to get the support they need when they are struggling. The peer support relates to the individuals and what they are experiencing”, said Grampians Community Health peer-worker Shannan Flood.
Mr Little said that “The program is being delivered across the Wimmera including Horsham, Stawell and Ararat with the other three workers based at Ballarat Community Health”.
“The great thing about this program is that people can self-refer to the service by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling the number 1800 056 400, and they can also ask their GP to make a referral” said Mr Little.
Anyone wishing to access any of the Grampians Community Health services can easily do so by calling 5358 7400.
Thank you to all Volunteers
How can we ever thank enough for the wonderful work all volunteers do to support our community health programs?
Your dedicated help is invaluable to each member of our community you assist, through a variety of Grampians Community Health programs.
Grampians Community Health Chief Executive Greg Little said, “some of you drive people to medical appointments out of town, some run an ongoing, fantastically successful weekly exercise program for older people, others regularly visit people who are isolated and lonely, who want companionship, and a chance to get out and about, and some of you are trained to help GCH in relief and recovery centres during an emergency, such as a bushfire or a flood”.
During this National Volunteers Week, GCH would like to thank each and every one of you for your commitment and hard work. Because as Volunteers, you offer your skills, expertise, and life experience and the invisible thread you weave throughout our community adds another dimension to the fabric of our organisation.
As all Volunteers know, and many studies have shown, helping others promotes happiness – the more we give, the kinder we are, and the happier we feel. So, by being a Volunteer, you can help yourself while helping others.
To quote some of you:
“I love being a volunteer driver because I know I am helping people who have no-one else to drive them to their medical appointments. I would like to think that when I am older, I will have someone who would like to help me”
“When I lead an exercise class for older people, I feel I am really contributing to their wellbeing, to their physical, mental and emotional health. That gives me much enjoyment and satisfaction.”
“I love visiting people who really need company, and I enjoy their stories and conversation very much.”
“My Volunteering gives me a sense of being valued and of being of value to the community”.
If you are reading this article and are thinking you would like to Volunteer at GCH, call into one of our reception in Stawell, Ararat or Horsham or ring 5358 7400, we will help you through the steps you will need to take to become a Volunteer with us.
Workers health and wellbeing
One third of our waking hours are spent at work, making our workplaces an important place for our health and wellbeing. This is why a network of Ararat organisations and businesses not only committed to supporting and promoting Active April within their workplace during last month they are also focusing on employee health and wellbeing for the long term.
The increase in preventable disease and workplace injury resulting from unhealthy living is a major cause of workplace absence or disruption, and lifestyle risk factors such as smoking, excessive drinking; poor diet, inactivity and excess body weight can contribute to time away from work. Workplaces in the Ararat Rural City understand this, and have committed to ensuring their workers are encouraged and enabled to have good health while in their work environment. As a show of commitment a Workplace Health and Wellbeing Network has been established. The network is being coordinated by Health Promotion staff at Grampians Community Health and East Grampians Health and consists of a range of workplaces from large manufacturing companies, Health Services, Child and Sporting services, Local Government and small businesses. The aim of the network is to work as a collective to create supportive working environments and work culture as well as making the healthy choice the easy choice for the employee. So far the Network representatives have shared policies, program ideas, training opportunities, and general experience in implementing Health and Wellbeing strategies.
It has been estimated that the healthiest Australian employees are three times more productive at work than their colleagues which is a huge incentive for workplaces to take action. Sally Perry of AME Systems says ‘The benefits of a healthy workplace for employers are worth the investment. Benefits include such things as improved work performance and productivity, reduced absenteeism and sick leave, decreased incidence of attending work when sick, decreased frequency and cost of workers compensation, improved staff morale, satisfaction and motivation and improved corporate image and attraction/retention of employees.’
‘Traditionally, the health of our population has fallen on health services usually supporting people when they are becoming unwell or already sick’ informed Rachel Whittaker from Grampians Community Health. “We have now learnt that if we can provide the right environments to encourage good health, people not only perform better in these environments such as workplaces but it also contributes to their overall health in other parts of their life’ she added
If you would like more information on the networks progress or how to join please contact Rachel Whittaker at Grampians Community Health on 53587400
Young people in the Northern Grampians Shire will have a revamped FreeZa program for the next three years.
Grampians Community Health in partnership with Stawell Performing Arts Company Inc and the Stawell Neighbourhood House will work with young people aged 12-25 to deliver the FReeZA youth development program which provides opportunities to enjoy live band gigs, dance parties and other cultural, recreational and artistic events in drug, alcohol and smoke-free supervised and safe venues.
Grampians Community Health Chief Executive Greg Little said that the strength of the partnership would be in using the expertise of each organisation to develop the FreeZa program in the Northern Grampians Shire.
“Grampians Community Health has a strong focus on supporting young people, Stawell Performing Arts Company has expertise in artistic and music events and the Stawell Neighbourhood House provides training and activities in a welcoming space. The intention is to marry these together to grow the capacity of young people to deliver the activities” said Mr Little.
“The three organisations already have very strong youth involvement and connections which we will be able to draw from as well” added Mr Little.
A group of young people with an interest in leading the FreeZa program will be recruited and provided with training to identify and deliver FreeZa events.
Stawell Neighbourhood House Manager Lisa Arnfield said that the agency partnership will very much be about supporting the development of the young people involved in FreeZa.
“Our role is not going to be to tell young people what they want, in many ways it will be a mentoring role to help them problem solve and learn” said Mrs Arnfield.
Stawell Performing Arts Company Inc President Dianne Stewart said that she was looking forward to adding FreeZa events to the growing calendar of performances and activities already provided in the Northern Grampians.
“We already have a number of young people keen to be involved in the FreeZa program, either through the committee or by offering their experience as mentors. We hope that as more young people come on board that we can set up a really good foundation for the growth of the local FreeZa program” said Ms Stewart.
FreeZa is funded by the Victorian Government. The Central Grampians LLEN will also be delivering FreeZa programs in the Northern Grampians Shire.
Young People wanting to be part of leading the FreeZaNG can email GCH@GrampiansCommunityHealth.org.au
Celebrating the abilities and artistic skills of people with a disability was a focus of an arts exhibition and contest held by Grampians Community Health in December to recognise International Day of People with a Disability.
The exhibition was an overwhelming success with many entries on show. The people in the community who attended throughout the week voted for their preferred art and craft with Mason Chamberlin being declared the winner.
Mason said that his painting is about the churning in your heart when you are feeling anxious. “I was grateful for being able to participate in the exhibition and very happy with the result” said Mason.
Grampians Community Health CEO Greg Little said that the quality of the art shown and the involvement of people from the local community made this art show a wonderful event.
“We wanted to acknowledge the strength, abilities and contribution people with a disability make to our community and the arts showcase and competition really achieved this” said Mr Little
Grampians Community Health General Manager Kathy Day said that often we take our abilities for granted, for people with disabilities it is important for us all to be aware of their abilities as without the awareness often they become excluded from participating fully in our community.
“Inclusion is the key, and it is one of Grampians Community Health core values. When we adapt programs and events such as the arts and craft exhibition for people with special abilities, we witness the brilliance of people who can contribute to our community.” Said Mrs Day.
Grampians Community Health works with many people with a disability who have challenges and need support, knowing that by helping them to explore their special abilities it enhances their life and wellbeing. The Grampians Community Health approach is to focus in their strengths and ability to perform well on an activity, by taking in consideration that some people are more analytical, and others are more visual or sound oriented we are able to enhance their abilities.
Mrs Day added “Disability changes not only the life of the person, it changes their family and the community, identifying their strength and giving them the opportunity to participate, we all benefit”.
Grampians Community Health is a provider of services under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
“We are trying to be really flexible in the supports we provide eligible participants of the NDIS, providing the functional support and community inclusion that an individual needs” said Mr Little
Anyone wishing to access any of the Grampians Community Health services can easily do so by calling 5358 7400.
‘Back fairness this election’, Wimmera organisations tell pollies.
People in rural and remote parts of the Wimmera are being denied the services they need and dramatic change is needed, local social service bodies have warned.
In a united call to all parties ahead of the state election, leaders from multiple agencies have urged candidates to address inequities and support organisations that are working to combat discrimination and disadvantage.
The organisations include Grampians Pyrenees Primary Care Partnership, Women’s Health Grampians, Grampians Disability Advocacy, Grampians Community Health and the Warracknabeal-based disability organisation Woodbine.
Grampians Pyrenees Primary Care Partnership‘s Emily Anderson said the region’s health workforce is suffering.
“There are gaps in specialist expertise, inadequate resources and training opportunities and considerable staff turnover,” she said.
“This has lead to worrying levels of uncertainty and instability across the sector and compromised patient outcomes, particularly in rural areas”
Marianne Hendron, CEO of Women’s Health Grampians, warned of growing disparities in pay and leadership, and the over representation of women in unpaid or poorly paid roles.
“This is compounded by reduced access to important services, including family violence support and sexual and reproductive health services,” she said.
“Strategies to address inequities in these and other areas need to be sustained, meaningful and well targeted.”
Grampians Disability Advocacy‘s Deb Verdon also backed the call, saying Wimmera people with a disability face significant barriers to full community participation.
“At every turn a person with a disability is asked to provide medical evidence about their situation, be it by Centrelink or the NDIS,” Ms Verdon said.
“Reports from GPs are no longer good enough. Support agencies demands a report from a specialist, but where are the specialists to be found?”
Greg Little, CEO of Grampians Community Health, says policymakers and political leaders need to realise that “rural and remote” is not the same as “regional”.
“People in small rural communities have the same right to access services as those in metropolitan or regional communities,” he said.
“The tyranny of distance, poor digital connectivity and a lack of public transport require government to ensure local services can extend into these areas.”
“This can be achieved by adequate funding that measures the outcomes for rural people not just how many people come through the door.”
Woodbine CEO Bernie O’Connor nominated a chronic lack of suitable accommodation for people with disabilities as a major concern for the region.
“Woodbine receives ongoing enquiries from increasingly desperate guardians who are seeking suitable accommodation for vulnerable people and those with particular support needs.
“The uncertain status of accommodation for people with a disability has been reflected in the absence of investors and new designs. Where once the support funding was the significant hurdle, under NDIS it seems that it is now the absence of appropriate infrastructure.”
The joint call is part of the organisations’ membership of the Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS), the peak body for the state’s social and community sector.
VCOSS CEO Emma King said policymakers and political candidates must listen closely to the voices of regional communities.
“People in local communities are best placed to identify local challenges and develop local solutions,” she said.
For further information on this story or comment, please contact:
VCOSS media enquiries: Ryan Sheales
0418 127 153