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The Hon Darren Chester MP
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC

MEDIA RELEASE

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Community and Peer Program to help vulnerable Australian veterans

Following the success of a two-year Community and Peer Pilot in Townsville, Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling will now roll-out their Community and Peer Program across Australia, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said today.

“The Government is putting veterans and their families first and is committed to ensuring that they have access to the mental health support they need,” Mr Chester said.

“The primary aim of the Townsville Community and Peer Pilot was to enhance the management of complex and high-risk clients in the region, particularly vulnerable individuals considered to be at risk of suicide.

“The Pilot demonstrated that ‘lived experience’ mental health peer workers within Open Arms could enhance the management of vulnerable clients.

“Some veterans are reluctant to reach out for help because they are unable to get over the stigma of seeking professional mental health treatment.

“Peers often have a good understanding of the challenges and issues they face, and can help provide a bridge between the veteran community and professional mental health support.

“Rolling out the Community and Peer Program across Australia will provide a new pathway for clients who were previously unlikely to consider accessing or being referred to Open Arms services.

Mr Patrick McGurrin, Chief Executive of Townsville Private Hospital, said “peer support can connect with vulnerable individuals on a more personal level than traditional mental health support programs. This can result in more timely and comprehensive care being provided by specialist mental health services to those in need”.

The Community and Peer Program also assists individuals and families who are currently accessing Open Arms services to connect to other services and initiatives in the veteran community. The Open Arms Peers also support a regional peer network coordinating mentoring and training for other peers working with the veteran community.

The Community and Peer Program will be rolling out to all states and territories throughout 2019.

If you would like to know more about the Community and Peer Program visit the Open Arms website

ENDS

Media contacts:

Cedric Szigeti: 02 6277 7820
DVA Media: 02 6289 6466
Office of the Hon Darren Chester, Canberra ACT

Open Arms — Veterans and Families Counselling provides support for current and ex-serving ADF personnel and their families. Free and confidential help is available 24/7. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 4546) or visit www.OpenArms.gov.au