Situated in the LatrobeValley in the heart of Gippsland, Barrier Breakers Inc is a mental health advocacy organisation committed to providing both systemic and individual advocacy services to improve the quality of life of people who experience mental illness in the region. Established in 2006, the association’s membership is Gippsland-wide and consists of parents/carers with family members suffering a mental illness, patients/consumers, medical practitioners and other concerned citizens. The association is an incorporated entity and is a tax exempt charity. It is administered by a nine member Board of Directors, which includes health administrators and mental health professionals, GP’s, Carers and business professionals. There is no other similar organisation in the Gippsland region.
Barrier Breakers has widespread community support for its efforts throughout the region. This support has been confirmed by all of the Gippsland region’s State and Federal MP’s, who have responded to the association’s many representations calling for improved mental; health services. Municipal Councils, Churches, Service Clubs (Rotary, Lions and Apex) and other community organizations have also demonstrated their support by generously contributing to the Barrier Breakers public appeal for funds towards the association’s supported accommodation project being developed in Traralgon for people with long-term mental illness.
Systemic advocacy – Since its establishment the association has undertaken specifically targeted research into mental health needs in the Gippsland region and presented numerous submissions addressing these needs to state and federal governments and their agencies.
Individual advocacy – Barrier Breakers is experiencing increasing demands for individual advocacy services by people in the region who experience difficulty in coping with mental illness. These people include Carers/family members of people who suffer mental illness and patients/consumers. Their needs are many and varied and include problems associated with access to mental health services, a lack of suitable accommodation, police and legal matters, Mental Health Review Board Appeals and a variety of problems associated with dual diagnoses of mental and physical illnesses. Requests for such services are made either made directly by the consumer and/or carer at the association’s Traralgon office (shop front), or through referrals from MP’s, churches and other social organizations. The association has also had referrals from government agencies.