Seaside

Empowering SA communities to drive their own wellbeing

Our Town is a long-term mental health initiative that will see the Fay Fuller Foundation provide funding and support to South Australian towns and regions for up to 10 years.

The background

The Our Town project funds and empowers rural and regional communities to build new capabilities to meet the mental health challenges they face, both now and into the future.

 

In 2018, we partnered with The South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute to review health needs and priorities for South Australia (this work was also funded by the Fay Fuller Foundation).

Poor mental health was shown to be more prevalent in rural and regional areas. With insights also showing that people living in non-metropolitan areas are also less likely to seek help for mental health challenges than those in the metropolitan area.

Our Town differs from other mental health initiatives because it’s not about putting additional services in place or recruiting new mental health professionals. Instead, the goal of Our Town is to build on the strengths, skills and talents of people in the participating towns to collectively move towards mentally healthy futures.

This is a new model we are co-creating with regional communities who are their own experts in what they need to build mentally healthy towns.

Kerry Jones, Director Strategic initiatives
Silo art

Our approach

Together with the Fay Fuller Foundation, in late 2019 we visited the nine towns and regions that were shortlisted for funding to learn more about their mental health challenges and bring their applications to life.

 

At the beginning of 2020, six of those nine towns received seed funding and support to develop long-term plans to grow community led initiatives that reclaim the mental health and wellbeing of their region. These six towns are Kangaroo Island, Ceduna, Berri, Cummins, Kimba and the Mid Murray Region.

Initially, the Fay Fuller Foundation planned to choose two communities from the six to each receive a decade of funding and support. However, given the recent catastrophic bushfire events on Kangaroo Island, the Fay Fuller Foundation chose to fund an additional community and guarantee Kangaroo Island 10 years of funding. This has enabled Kangaroo Island to focus on a plan beyond immediate relief and practical recovery efforts.

This is a partnership approach where we work alongside the Fay Fuller Foundation, Clear Horizon and regional communities to enable long term change and provide strong support to each community. TACSI’s specific role is:

  1. To provide regular coaching and capability building sessions for the SA town teams who are creating 10 year plans for their wellbeing.
  2. To foster learning across the communities and with key stakeholders like the SA Mental Health Commission.

 

Our capability building with communities focuses on

  • Leadership development – strong responses need leadership to be able to leap from page to principle and action. Defining how to lead with purpose and build those skills in community is an essential key to the success of the Our Town initiative.
  • Capability building – building up and out the capabilities not only of individuals in the initiative, but across all the teams ensures a broad range of solutions can be designed, prototyped and implemented with confidence.
  • Participatory decision making – being active as a team and community members in the design phase through participating in the process of design builds a new level of engagement amongst participants, and allows for informed design from multiple viewpoints.
  • Networked communities (fostering connections across communities focussed on mutual support, shared learning and exchange of resources)
  • Systemic perspective and influence – looking at mental health through a systemic lens allows the teams to understand both opportunities and challenges for change. Ensuing that they are better prepared to build support for their plans in community and alongside the systemic responses.
Our Town Workshop

What’s next?

The six towns are continuing to gather data to inform their mental health plans, with three towns to be chosen after this phase for ongoing funding.

 

This data comes from a number of sources: statistical, lived experience, evidence from other initiatives and interviews with key people in the mental health space. Each town will bring together these sources and use them to generate ideas for their community to pursue or create.

Towns will then develop a proposal for how they’d use long term funding from the Fay Fuller Foundation. In December 2020, they’ll reflect and complete assessments of their own growth in the process so far.

The three final towns selected for 10 year funding will receive funding in early 2021.

Our Town workshop

How you can help

We’re looking for:

If this sounds like something you or your organisation might be interested in, get in touch with us here.