9 February 2023

Mind Australia and Mallee Family Care have been chosen to develop urgently needed support services for the families and carers of people experiencing mental health and wellbeing challenges in the Loddon Mallee region.

Mind will develop and deliver the Loddon Mallee Family and Carer-led Centre in partnership with Mallee Family Care. The new support service will support family members and carers of people with mental ill-health or alcohol and other drug addiction.

The Loddon Mallee Family and Carer-led Centre is one of eight funded by the Victorian Government and recommended by the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System. 

The Loddon Mallee Family and Carer-led Centre will provide peer support, social connection, education, therapeutic respite, practical support, care, advice and system navigation for primary carers in northern Victoria.

The service will support families and carers living in the Buloke, Campaspe, Central Goldfields, Gannawarra, Greater Bendigo, Loddon, Macedon Ranges, Mildura, Mount Alexander and Swan Hill local government areas.

Primary carers will not need a referral to access support from the centre, which will provide short, medium and long-term assistance for family members and carers.

Mind and Mallee Family Care are committed to creating an evidence based service guided by the knowledge and experience of people with lived experience of being a family member or carer.

Mind Acting Senior Manager Inclusion and Participation Carolynne White – who has lived experience of being a carer - said genuine co-production of the centre by people with lived experience will include planning, design, delivery and evaluation. This will include substantive lived experience roles to support decision making at all levels of leadership and service delivery.

Dr White said service providers can design and deliver more suitable and effective supports by listening to family and carers and learning from their lived experiences.

“People who care for someone with mental ill-health often experience isolation, reduced opportunities for employment and income generation, and all too often must learn as they go when it comes to taking care of their loved one,” Dr White said.

“The Loddon Mallee Family and Carer-led Centre will provide a much-needed opportunity to utilise and harness family and carer lived experience to support and improve outcomes for other primary carers in the region.

“By listening to carers within the local community and identifying the issues that matter, we can create tailored support options so that carers can live their own lives, while continuing to care for their loved ones.”

Mind CEO Gill Callister said the Victorian government is to be commended for following the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System and putting lived experience at the heart of service design and delivery.

“The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System recognises the valuable skills, strengths, and expertise that families and carers develop through their lived experiences of providing support,” Ms Callister said.

“Together with Mallee Family Care, our aim is to refocus mental health services to put the role of families and carers at the centre, developing a novel and holistic approach to care.”

“It is our mission that the Loddon Mallee Family and Carer-led Centre will build an evidence base to lead best practice, not only in services specifically for families and carers, but across the entire mental health sector.”

Mind has been providing a full spectrum of care and support services to the diverse communities of the Loddon region for decades.

Mallee Family Care has been a trusted service provider in the Mallee region for more than 40 years.

Mallee Family Care CEO Teresa Jayet said both organisations were committed to the families and carers of people experiencing mental illness across the Mallee region.

“Mind and Mallee Family Care bring expertise in delivering mental health services and Mallee Family Care understands the local community and the importance of listening to the voice of community in improving service systems and supports,” Ms Jayet said.

“For too long families and carers have required support and have been seen separate to, rather than a part of the whole service system. We are aiming to change that, and this announcement reaffirms our ongoing commitment to supporting local people and providing local care.”

The Loddon Mallee Family and Carer-led Centre is expected to begin offering online support in May 2023.

If you would like more information about Mind services, please contact us via Mind Connect or by phone: 1300 286 463.

If this article raises concerns for you, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders can also call 13 YARN (13 92 76) a 24/7 national crisis support telephone service staffed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.