Steve Carrigg is the Mental Health Promotion Officer for the Rural Adversity Mental Health Program and said being active, having a sense of belonging and having a purpose in life all contribute to happiness and good mental health.
“To be mentally healthy means that most of the time you feel good about yourself and good about what you do. To be able to enjoy the simple things in life and to feel optimistic about the future is really important for our mental health and wellbeing,” said Steve.
Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSW LHD) Mental Health Services is encouraging people to keep physically active, to be involved with a group and to be socially active. Social connectedness is good for our mental health. This can be simply saying ‘good morning’ to your neighbours, joining a club or becoming a volunteer, where you meet people and can make friends as well as feeling good about yourself through giving. All of these activities are good for our mental health.
“One of our staff members, Julijana Vranic is a Welfare Officer at the Lismore Adult Mental Health Unit and has been volunteering her time around her work commitments to set up the Bundjalarms,” Steve said.
The Bundjalarms (Butterflies) Netball Program is a health promotion project that has arisen through the connection between a group of Aboriginal people, health and public sector workers, and community members with the shared belief that sport can be instrumental in creating positive change for people and communities.
“Since the Netball Program began 18 months ago the numbers have doubled with young girls aged between 8 to 16 years wanting to participate in the Program, which primarily targets Aboriginal girls from the Goonellabah and Lismore area but is inclusive to girls in the Richmond area,” said Julijana Vranic.
The Program operates on a weekly basis and provides diversional activities with a focus of education, healthy lifestyle and behaviours, positive role modelling, nutrition education and connecting with the community.
“These activities have been beneficial in providing a social outlet for the Aboriginal girls, while at the same time increasing their resilience to social and environmental pressure. The Program also nurtures their sense of self-worth, builds fitness, creates peer support and helps them to overcome difficulties beyond the umbrella of the group activities,” said Julijana.
“We have good collaborative partnerships with local organisations that include NNSW LHD, Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP) Officer, Mental Health Services, Lismore City Council, Goonellabah Sport & Aquatic Centre, Tackling Aboriginal Smoking and the Health Lifestyle Initiative Team – known as ‘Solid Mob’, Northern Rivers Social Development Council and Aboriginal Legal Service.
“When the program finishes the group of up to 25 young girls will attend the NSW Aboriginal Netball Carnival in Newcastle, where they can showcase all the netball and social skills they have learnt throughout the year. The Carnival is held over three days culminating with a dinner and presentation, which is very exciting for the Bundjalarms especially for some, who have never travelled so far or been to such a large event,” Julijana added.
The Lismore Bundjalarms Netball Program will expand in 2014 to include sporting club membership in the Lismore District Netball Carnival. Our aim for the Program is to have senior, intermediate and junior teams, which is open to all Indigenous and non-Indigenous players who would like to play for a unique and diverse netball club.
The Program has been supported by community businesses and volunteers. A big thanks for 2013 needs to go to Norco Kyogle, Goonellabah Aquatic Centre, Northern Rivers Social Development Council, Solid Mob, Lismore City Council, the volunteers Julijana Vranic and Brian Caldwell (Community Corrections Aboriginal Officer), who developed the program and A Grade Players/Coaches Tamara Hamshaw & Zoe Goodsell, Penelope Gibson (Team TB), Georgina Cohen (First Sun), Caitlin Duroux (Student), Kelly Sharf-Hyde (Indigenous Youth & Mental Health Worker) for their ongoing support and assistance during the year.