Message from the CEO

Mr Mark Hartigan

Well, winter is upon us with wet, windy, and woolly conditions setting in across country South Australia.

For those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness winter weather adds even more significant challenges. Homeless Connect SA operates 24/7 to assist with emergency accommodation. Homeless Connect SA can be contacted on 1800 003 308 to help people seek warmth and stay safe this winter.

At Country SA PHN we have had a period of growth and exciting new opportunities. I would like to welcome our new staff members and wish them well. We have also had two existing staff members accept Executive Management positions. I am pleased to introduce our new Chief Operating Officer (COO) Suzanne Delaney and Chez Curnow as our inaugural Executive Manager – Mental Health and AOD Strategy.

Suzanne has worked in rural primary health for seventeen year and been with Country SA PHN for seven years as Director Regional Strategies and Service Design, Manager Corporate Services and most recently as Executive Manager – Strategic Engagement. Suzanne brings to the position a wealth of commercial acumen along with experience in contemporary leadership, relationship building, business development and organisational governance. Suzanne has been responsible for several Country SA PHN flagship commissioned services such our After-Hours Dental Program, Gender Wellbeing Service, and our Healthy Habits Program. This is complemented by being the architect of our Community Advisory Committee platform and our General Health Clinical Council.

Suzanne holds a Bachelor of Arts, Master of Health Administration and recently completed an Advanced Leadership Program. She facilitates the mentoring program for the Australasian College of Health Service Management SA Branch Council – along with being a Fellow of the College and a Certified Health Executive.

Suzanne is a Board Director of the Cancer Care Centre and of the South Australian Post Graduate Medical Education Association and she serves on the Barossa & District Health Advisory Council.

Suzanne has a deep understanding of rural health, workforce complexities and a focus on priority populations for whom services are not readily available. She is a stalwart country resident invested in creating a prosperous environment where our staff and our rural communities can live their best and most well life possible.

As COO Suzanne will support the organisation to ensure we meet our strategic plan’s short, medium, and long-term goals. This role drives service innovation and alignment of operations with strategy while securing our functionality to drive extensive and sustainable growth. This involves a collaborative approach and leadership to organisational, cultural, and structural change, asset management, service innovation, sustainability, operational efficiencies, and continuous improvement.

As Executive Manager – Mental Health and Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) Strategy, Chez Curnow has overarching responsibility for leading Mental Health and AOD sector engagement, relationship management, capacity building, and commissioning activities to better align services to meet local communities’ needs.

Chez has been with Country SA PHN since 2016, initially working in the mental health, suicide prevention and AOD team and more recently as the Senior Manager of Commissioning.

Chez has held both state and national leadership and advocacy appointments in mental health and suicide prevention, as well as leading a place based national suicide prevention trial; championing innovation in service design and evaluation to inform future policy and funding decisions at a national level.

Chez was recently appointed to the South Australian Government Suicide Prevention Council and is Board Director at Uniting Country SA. Chez is driven to improve equity in access for our rural communities and drive innovative approaches in primary mental health within the rural context.

I wish both Suzanne and Chez all the best in their new positions and know they will be great assets to our organization and the people of country South Australia that we at Country SA PHN exist to serve.

I am pleased to announce that Country SA PHN has been approved by the Department of Health and Aged Care to establish a Head to Health site in Port Pirie. It’s expected to be operational by mid-next year. This new service joins the two other sites in country South Australia that will be operational in Mount Gambier and Mount Barker.

Head to Health adult mental health services provide a safe and welcoming place for adults to access mental health information, services and supports delivered by multidisciplinary care teams over extended hours, without needing a prior appointment or paying a fee.

Head to Health also assists General Practitioners and other health providers to be well-equipped to help people seeking advice and treatment for their mental health.

Mental health advice and support is also available on the Head to Health phone line on 1800 595 212. The Head to Health team can help individuals access the appropriate local mental health services and supports.

Head to Health is not a crisis or emergency service. For urgent support call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or SuicideLine on 1300 651 251. If you need immediate help or are at risk of harm to yourself or others call 000 now.

I wish you all the best for the month ahead. Until next time, keep warm and well.

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