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At Mind, we’re proud of our reconciliation journey so far and we are committed to the work ahead of us.

This year’s National Reconciliation Week theme is Now More Than Ever – a call to action to all of us to tackle the unfinished business of reconciliation. The fight for justice and the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will – and must – continue.

For us at Mind as a community mental health organisation, this means listening deeply, being humble and open to learning new ways of doing, and becoming a truly inclusive and innovative mental health service for First Nations people.

Mind’s Acting Reconciliation Action Plan Manager Emily Byrne said it is gratifying to see the commitments in Mind’s Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan (PDF 2.3) translating to real change across services.

“A number of Mind services have well established connections with First Nations communities on the country they are on, which has guided their practice alongside what they have learnt through professional development and specialised training,” Emily said. 

“Other Mind services are at the beginning of this journey. As an organisation we are committed to strengthening our practice guidelines for supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service users, investing in First Nations specific resources and focussing on relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities and organisations.”

As an organisation we are committed to strengthening our practice guidelines for supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service users...
- Emily Byrne, Acting Reconciliation Action Plan Manager, Mind Australia

Emily said an ongoing project in our reconciliation journey has been incorporating cultural practices and educational activities in our service delivery models.

This ranges from building yarning circles in our services, to encourage conversation and listening, to introducing cultural art workshops led by a First Nations Community Health Practitioner. Through these workshops residents learn about Indigenous totems and their significance to culture, including what they represent and how they are used in storytelling and yarning. Residents are also able to practice art and use it as a means for storytelling and expressing their emotions and thoughts.

Forming meaningful relationships with local Elders to support service users and build trust and understanding between our services and local communities has been another important step. This is a work in progress across the organisation but services like Haven Mooroopna in Victoria and Kwelena Step Up Step Down in Western Australia have demonstrated how valuable these relationships can be.

Local Elders provide important connection and pathways between services and local communities, and enrich Mind mental health practitioners’ understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s connection with the land, their people and the community. 

Local Elders help educate our staff on how they can effectively, and sensitively, support the mental health recovery and wellbeing of First Nations people, and to gain a deeper understanding of the issues and challenges affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 

Co-designing new services with First Nations communities is another important way of listening to make our services more relevant and appropriate. Co-design is a process that brings together the lived experience and knowledge of people from communities the service is aiming to support and the organisation’s own professional experience to learn from one another to produce new products, services, policies or solutions. 

Mind firmly believes in the value and expertise of those with lived experience of mental health and recovery to help foster the recovery of others. This is why new Mind services are co-designed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have also experienced mental health challenges. This ensures the voices and experiences of First Nations people are heard and incorporated to ensure our services can better support their needs. 

Mind recently undertook an internal review of how Mind supports First Nations service users, which identified a number of opportunities for improvement. As a result, Mind is developing a practice tool-kit of resources for recovery-oriented practice specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Practice tools are documents or plans that support service users to articulate and define their recovery goals, map out their recovery journey and manage their own wellbeing in partnership with their loved ones and Mind practitioners.

Mind Senior Manager Quality and Practice Megan McDonald says that the approach to implementing the practice tools will be co-designed with First Nations people where services are located, ensuring that the approach is best practice and meets the needs of local for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. 

“The review of how we support First Nations people included consultation with Weenthunga Health Network and Mind’s Reconciliation Action Plan Committee. What we learnt was there are a number of growth opportunities, but equally an appetite for change and to adapt to need,” Mind Senior Manager Quality and Practice Megan McDonald said.

“Developing a practice tool-kit specific to the needs of First Nations people will create opportunities for positive outcomes, and help us strengthen relationships in local areas so that we understand the best ways to work with specific communities. From Bendigo and Shepparton in Victoria, to Cairns and Mackay in Queensland.”

Mind’s Innovate RAP was launched in 2023 and builds on the foundations created by our Reflect RAP (launched in 2019). It is the next chapter in our organisation’s contribution to reconciliation. Read Mind’s Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan (PDF 2.3). 

If this article raises concerns for you, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14. Aboriginal and Torres Straits 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. 
If you would like more information, please contact us.

1300 286 463 
[email protected]