Message from the CEO

Mr Mark Hartigan

Country SA PHN is pleased to fund a Lifeline Connect Centre for the Port Pirie community – the second in country South Australia. The walk-in centre is for people seeking to improve their social and emotional well-being and is an early intervention model for suicide prevention that aims to connect the community.

The opening of the 79 Esmond Street centre this month was attended by our Executive Manager – Mental Health and AOD Strategy Chez Curnow and our Regional Suicide Prevention Coordinator Karen McColl. Also in attendance was Penny Pratt MP, Geoff Brock MP, Leon Stephens Mayor of Port Pirie Regional Council, Robert Martin CEO Lifeline Broken Hill Country to Coast and Robin Edgecumbe, Lifeline Country to Coast Ambassador.

Lifeline Connect Centres have no specific attendance criteria. People can simply walk-in when they need to. They can access Lifeline counsellors without a referral or a mental health diagnosis and at no cost, thus removing common barriers to accessing assistance. The centres provide support in a welcoming, safe, and compassionate space - providing one point of contact for the community to connect and seek help early.

The centres promote social inclusion and community participation and provide access to a pool of trained volunteers who provide a contact point between themselves and anybody in the community who may want to have a chat, need immediate crisis support or who may need a referral to other services.

The trained volunteers can provide support in a broad range of areas including relationships, youth, suicide and harm prevention, general mental health and wellbeing, anger management, anxiety, alcohol and other drugs, financial distress, and grief and loss. This can be face to face, via video, or phone counselling and is free of charge.

“Lifeline Broken Hill Country to Coast is committed to delivering mental health and wellbeing support to communities across Far West NSW and regional South Australia,” said Marisa Pickett, Acting CEO, Lifeline Broken Hill Country to Coast.

“With funding from Country SA PHN, in 2021 we opened a Connect Centre in the Clare valley, which has been hugely successful in supporting people in the region. To now be able to do the same in Port Pirie is amazing.”

In the past 12 months the Clare Connect Centre has provided more than 400 community members with support. More than 110 people have accessed counselling, over 500 counselling sessions have been provided, training workshops have been delivered to volunteers and potential volunteers in Clare, Burra, Port Pirie, Kadina, Jamestown and Gawler and staff and volunteers have held information sessions, attended community and fundraising events in this time.

Approximately half of the Clare Connect Centre clients self-referred for counselling. Often these are walk-in clients requiring same day access to counselling – a key feature of the model allowing people to seek support when they need it and to seek help early.

The Lifeline Connect Centre model was developed with considerations to the final report from the Prime Minister’s National Suicide Prevention Advisor and CEO of the National Mental Health Commission Christine Morgan.

This included:

• Lived Experience knowledge and leadership

• Building community capability

• Responding earlier to distress

• Connecting people to compassionate services and supports

• Focusing on communities disproportionately affected by suicide

Country SA PHN is committed to bridging the gap for country South Australians in accessing primary health care – including mental health and suicide prevention supports. The Lifeline Connect Centre model enables people to get the assistance they need when they need it, at no cost, provided by those with lived experience in a welcoming safe space.

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