Outback Futures Enews: October 2018
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I recently had the privilege of presenting to the mental health round table, assembled by the Joint agency drought taskforce, led by Major General Stephen Day, the Prime Minister’s National Drought co-ordinator. As we grappled with issues around how to better co-ordinate services that are already on the ground doing good work, and talked through differences of approach and emphasis, it became even clearer that managing a national effort to ensure cohesive and effective service provision with so many agencies involved, is no easy task.

Each agency has their own preferred ways or are funded for specific modes of operating and is often heavily invested in the way they are already working…  I was deeply challenged however, when the Major General closed this first meeting with an armed forces analogy: “when going into war, soldiers head off together, they fight together, and they return together. If they lose that battle, they lose together - they lose as a whole. If they win that battle, then likewise, they win together. It is a win for ALL”  

As we look at Australia, and particularly rural and remote suicide figures and as we look at the mental health and well-being issues in our people and communities, this is a situation where if things don’t work, or happen well, then we all lose. Australia loses. These are not issues where we can afford to work in silos, or be parochial about our ‘turf’ or approach. Rural and remote mental health is an issue that needs and deserves a unified approach, and even more so in times of prolonged and crippling drought.

I am excited to see how we move forward in the meetings ahead, and determined to be a flexible and productive member of a unified team.

Selena Gomersall

Team Profile: Nataya
Nataya Branjerdporn is a graduate of the University of Queensland. Nataya has experience working with children with developmental delays, cerebral palsy, developmental coordination disorders and behavioural disorders. Nataya is also a PhD Candidate at the University of Queensland looking at therapy approaches for children with cerebral palsy and their families, particularly in challenging contexts such as in low middle income and rural contexts.

Nataya has a passion for families living in rural and remote contexts and is excited to be partnering with Outback Futures.

In 2018, I have been fortunate to provide occupational therapy services with children and their families in Barcaldine, Aramac and Muttaburra. My most recent trip was slightly different to previous clinics, as I spent 2 days at Aramac State School delivering workshops to teachers. I provided information and education on the ‘We Thinkers Curriculum’ developed by Social Thinking®, that can be used in the classroom to assist with the development of social skills.
Social skills are not “one thing” we can isolate and teach. It’s a combination of thoughts, feelings, ideas and actions working in tandem with each other in unique ways for each social situation we encounter (Michelle Garcia Winner and Deborah Meringolo, 2018). By supporting children to become better social thinkers, we are supporting their ability to be flexible when things don’t go their way, they learn that their might be more than one way to solve a problem and they see the possibility of overcoming a challenge.
Here is one quick tip you can use support children to develop their social skills:

  • At the center of social learning is thoughts and feelings. Teach children to recognise the thoughts and feelings of themselves and of other people. When reading books or watching movies, encourage them to ‘think with their eyes’. Use a thought bubble to support their ability to understand that people have thoughts. Talk about them about the body clues we see that tell us how people are feeling.

If I was to make a smart guess - right now, you are probably thinking about the email you have received from Outback Futures. This thought is then impacting on how you feel about the email and I hope that it's making you feel happy!

Jaiden Patience
Occupational Therapist


In a week where promoting better mental health has been high on the agenda, Outback Futures was privileged to have been invited to be part of a change process that Barcaldine Shire Regional Council is working towards. Outback Futures has been connected to the Barcaldine region for several years, after responding initially to a number of critical incidents that had widespread impact on the community. Outback Futures continues to work collaboratively in the community in bringing our allied health services to the local schools and connecting with individuals and families.

Council workers joined with town councillors from the region’s five towns – Alpha, Jericho, Aramac, Muttaburra and Barcaldine in the town hall to hear the plans of new CEO Steven Boxall. The sea of 160 ‘hi viz’ orange and black shirts was the largest gathering of Council staff assembled in 10 years.

High on Council’s agenda is the care and well being of its staff, especially as they align themselves with the changes facing shire councils around the country. Change can be challenging and stressful at times, and helping staff understand this and prepare them for the best ways to adapt and move forward were key themes of the day.

Keynote speaker Catherine DeVrye gave a high energy and fun presentation about navigating change, and optimising service delivery. Wendy Ferguson, Counsellor with Outback Futures, took the opportunity to talk to workers about how each of us can have better mental health if we are willing to open up about how we’re feeling and have the courage to ask for help when we know we need it. Outback Futures' message is one of hope - you do not need to suffer in silence, attempting to bury your emotions and turning to destructive ways of coping - reach out and ask for help. With the opening of the Invictus Games in Sydney, Prince Harry summed it up in his speech “It’s about attitude. Being tough means being honest about how we feel inside and out.” 

Wendy Ferguson & Tracey Cronin 

Outback Futures is only able to provide consistent care to our Outback Family because of the generous support we receive from donors who are willing to go the distance with us. We thank you for your support.
Copyright © 2018 Outback Futures, All rights reserved.

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