In brief

Research: Mind welcomes Nicola Ballenden

Mind welcomes Nicola Ballenden, our new Executive Director of Research, Advocacy and Policy. She replaces Dr Sarah Pollock who left Mind in March 2021 to take up an appointment as the Chief Advocate for Mental Health for Western Australia.

Nicola has held senior leadership roles across the not for profit sector, providing research, policy, service development and strategic communications expertise in health, welfare and homelessness organisations including the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine, the Brotherhood of St Laurence and Launch Housing. Nicola has also spent time in policy roles with the Commonwealth Government and the Australian Consumers Association (CHOICE).

Nicola is passionate about using research and evidence to measure impact, build better mental health services and to influence the policy process.

"It’s exciting to begin this role at this pivotal moment when the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System and the Productivity Commission have flagged a real commitment to and opportunity for structural reform," Nicola says. "I hope it will see us build a system that integrates mental health support with the broader health system to provide the holistic wrap around support that makes sustained recovery possible."

Housing: Third Haven residence open

Residents have moved into the newly completed Haven Geelong development. The 16 unit residence will provide long term supported independent living for people from the greater Geelong region living with significant mental ill-health, with Mind staff providing 24 hour service management and recovery support.

The development comprises 16 self-contained one-bedroom units for residents, and common kitchen, dining, recreation and meeting areas. The modern high-quality development has been sensitively landscaped to harmonise with its local environs.

Haven Geelong was made possible by a $3.75 million capital grant from Homes Victoria and a $1.3 million low interest loan from the Treasury Corporation. It is the third in the Haven building program, following the original South Yarra development in 2011 and the opening of Haven Frankston in 2019. Haven Laverton is expected to be completed in June 2021, Haven Mooroopna (Shepparton) in July 2021, and Havens in Epping and Pakenham in early 2022.

The Haven Foundation Australia Limited has now been registered as a community housing provider in other states, opening the opportunity for expanding the provision of Haven residences beyond Victoria.

Mind new youth psychosocial recovery programs

Mind has been granted $1.36 million in Victorian government funding to develop youth psychosocial recovery programs to help young people with mental health challenges to build the skills to live successfully in the community. These are designed to prevent young people from needing a stay in a youth residential service, or to help them stay successfully and independently in the community after a residential stay.

A great complement to existing residential support services, these new programs will operate in the Melbourne metropolitan Local Government Areas of Banyule, Yarra and Nillumbuk from June 2021 and soon after in regional Victoria in the Latrobe Valley and Wodonga for two years.

Thank you for looking after each other and yourselves

A big thank you to all our staff, clients, families and carers, and our clinical partners for your continued cooperation and endurance through the pandemic. Thank you for following mask requirements, social distancing, lockdowns, visitor restrictions and service changes, to keep all of us safe and well.

Different states have been affected at different times but our services in all states have reacted quickly, professionally and compassionately whenever restrictions have been introduced because of outbreaks. It is not over yet but our COVID and vaccination working groups will continue to make the safety and wellbeing of our clients, staff and families their top priority.

Reconciliation at Mind

Thanks to Aaron, a client at our Mind Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing in Cairns, and his support worker Kim, for helping us launch our National Reconciliation Week 2021 activities. This year Mind moves into the second, ‘Innovate’, stage of its Reconciliation Plan, focusing on practical actions that will drive our contribution to reconciliation both internally and in the communities in which we operates.

Our second National Reconciliation Week staff webinar, entitled ‘Taking Action in Indigenous Mental Health’ was a rare opportunity for staff to hear from three First Nations people who are running Aboriginal mental health and suicidality and cultural learning programs. These powerful speakers shared very personal stories to strengthen our understanding of the transgenerational impacts of dispossession and build staff capacity in supporting our First Nations clients.