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Ballarat Health Services Mental Health Services

The first of three information sessions re the formation of advisory groups for  Ballarat Health Services Mental Health Services (BHS MHS) was held in Ballarat on Tuesday but if you are interested in joining one of three Advisory groups to contribute to improving mental health services across the Grampians region, and couldn’t make it to this week’s session, there are still two sessions to be held next week.

Lived Experience Coordinator Mark Lacey said the Ballarat session saw a good number of people attend.

“They asked good quality questions about a range of things including trauma -informed care, what Ballarat Health Services was doing about suicide and a range of other questions, so those who came were really quite experienced and knowledgeable contributors to the discussion,” Mr Lacey said.

Consumer Consultant Robyn Fowler added that it is not too late for people to show their expression of interest as this will be an ongoing recruitment due to the fact that they were wanting to create a ‘consumer bank’.

“So anyone can jump on board at any time to just build our bank – so I would still like people to have enquiries about it,” she said.

Consumers are encouraged to bring along their expertise and passion to the  sessions, which will provide details on how to become part of the Family Advisory Council or the Youth Advisory Group.  Consumer feedback will also be sought on different models proposed for the Consumer Advisory Committee.

The BHS MHS Consumer Advisory Committee is a group of members that works together to ensure that consumers, families and carers views are recognised and valued, and are reflected in service delivery and policy development within BHS MHS.

“This is a bit cutting edge.  When we started 20 years ago we had an advisory committee, and that was done around the State, now some of the more forward thinking services have disbanded their committees and have formed focus groups,” Mr Lacey said.

“Our thinking is if people want us to go down that path it gives us greater flexibility so we can say okay we will look at redesigning the acute unit, for example, we want people who have been in an acute unit so that we can get that expert comment; but then we might call that group for 12 months and once that unit is built, we will disband that group.”

Ms Fowler added, “ We will do this on a 12 month trial if the consumers do decide to go forward and then if it works we will continue and if it doesn’t we will go back to the Consumer Advisory Committee.”

“What I love about the Focus Groups is that it is not so strict as the Committee.  If you can’t meet every meeting call me, correspond by email and you can still participate if you are unable to attend.”

(Robyn Fowler can be contacted on 03 5320 4182 or robyn.fowler@bhs.org.au for further information regarding upcoming sessions or becoming a part of the Advisory groups.)

“This is a big opportunity.  We can either stay as we have done for years, which I feel would be staying in a bit of a rut, or we can try something and be innovative,” Mr Lacey said.

Details of the two remaining sessions are below:

Ararat Session

When: Tuesday 26th February, 1pm

Where: Ararat Hospital, Girdlestone Street

Special guests: A Consumer Consultant and Lived Experience Coordinator


Horsham Session

When: Tuesday 26th February, 5:45pm

Where: 3 Robinson Street, Horsham

Special guests: A Consumer Consultant and Lived Experience Coordinator

RSVP to robyn.fowler@bhs.org.au

The sessions are free and are open to all consumers. Light refreshments will be served.