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Media Release – September 12th 2017

Changes to be made at LRH


The Mental Health Complaints Commission (Complaints Commission) is recommending changes in the treatment of patients who are involuntarily confined in the psychiatric ward of the Latrobe Regional Hospital (LRH).


In announcing this today, Derek Amos, Chairman of Barrier Breakers Inc., Gippsland’s mental health advocacy, said Barrier Breakers had made an official complaint to the Mental Health Commission over a denial of natural justice afforded to one of their clients who was appealing an Involuntary Treatment Order (ITO).


The Deputy Commissioner of the Complaints Commission has now advised Mr. Amos that LRH has been asked to adhere to the Mental Health Act 2014 to ensure that patients have a “Nominated Person” to protect their interests and that an “advanced statement” be provided to that person before any hearing to determine involuntary treatment or otherwise.


Mr. Amos said the implementation of this provision by LRH would vastly improve transparency in such cases and provide for greater protection of a patients’ rights by enabling a “Nominated Person” to have access to information and the opportunity to more properly advocate on the patients behalf.


“Nobody should be denied natural justice before any court or tribunal in the land and this rule applies to anyone, whether they be mentally ill or not”.


“Just because a person’s mental illness may render them incapable from clearly expressing themselves before a tribunal, does not mean in itself that the person should be judged to be incapable of adhering to a voluntary mental health plan”.


Mr. Amos said this was particularly relevant to those situations where authorities are demanding that a patient be placed on an ITO and where the patient is clearly capable of attending his/her GP and following a voluntary plan.


“Everyone should be entitled to advocacy representation in such circumstances to enable a tribunal to be in possession of all the facts before involuntary orders are decided”, Mr. Amos concluded.


For further information, please contact Derek Amos on 0428397706. social google plus social facebook social pinterest social
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Media Release – September 10th 2017

Tackling Suicide Head On

A major farmers lobby group and a Gippsland base mental health advocacy have joined forces to tackle suicide risk in rural areas.


With a program, especially designed to allow people to be more aware of the first signs of depression and anxiety and other forms of mental illness, Aussie Farmers Foundation and Barrier Breakers Inc. will be launching the first of four Mental Health First Aid course in Sale in October.


Derek Amos, Chairman of Barrier Breakers, said that Gippsland had one of the highest rates of suicide in the nation and that precursors to suicide – such as depression and anxiety – need to be addressed as a matter of some urgency.


He said, “Suicide is a major health concern, with suicide deaths averaging 2,687 over a five year period, and remains the leading cause of death for all Australians between the ages of 15 and 44”.


“2012 data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics last month clearly shows that suicide rates in Central Gippsland exceed both the state and national average, with suicide rates for young Australians being the highest in 10 years.”


He said, “Given that major depression alone accounts for 50% of all suicide deaths, we need to recognise symptoms earlier and encourage sufferers to seek help before major depression sets in”.


Mr. Amos said, “With limited job opportunities, Gippsland had been hit hard of late with the closure and threatened closure of major industries, the Murray Goulbourn fiasco and a roller-coaster ride with milk prices and the continuing down-turn of the timber industry”.


In an endeavour to address possible depression caused by these issues, Aussie Farmers Foundation has provided Barrier Breakers with a grant to run a series of mental health first aid courses. The aim is to create a better understanding of mental illness by the first responders and/or other professionals called out to emergencies involving mental breakdowns, more sensitivity in such dealings and a greater understanding of mental illness by families, friends and carers.


Mr. Amos said, “The program is not only designed to address the key area of mental health for farming communities, but also their economic wellbeing”. He said this can be adversely affected by mental health issues, particularly when those issues are not addressed or are treated with a lack of understanding and sensitivity.


Sale-based Clinical Psychologist, Sarah Schluter, will conduct the courses, which will commence on Wednesday, 4 October in the Bond Street Events Centre, Sale. Bookings for the courses can be made at the Sale office of Barrier Breakers, 55 Raymond Street – Phone 51446002 or Barrier Breakers Traralgon office on 51744588.


Mr. Amos also took the opportunity to invite people to volunteer for Barrier Breakers at their Sale and Traralgon offices.


“Barrier Breakers is a community-based organisation – an incorporated association and tax endorsed charity. Our advocacy services are provided free of any charge and our funding comes from the community we serve”, Mr. Amos said.


“We provide free training for our volunteers and work with them in a friendly environment, which is richly rewarding, particularly when you see the smiles on the faces of those people who have been helped by our program”, Mr. Amos concluded.


For further information, please contact Derek Amos on 0428397706. social google plus social facebook social pinterest social
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Media Release – Wednesday 31st May

Barrier Breakers Generates Discussion about Gambling Issues and Mental Health


Barrier Breakers in Traralgon are inviting community members to join their new Gambling Advocacy Program (GAP) to generate a discussion on gambling issues and mental health. The program is open to anyone who would like to make a positive change to their own lives, the lives of their families and people close to them, or the wider community regarding the effect of gambling on mental health.


The program is supported by funding from Latrobe City Trust and Trinity Families.


Group sessions will run between July and September 2017 in alternating Tuesday afternoon and Thursday evening sessions at the Kath Teychenne Centre in Traralgon. A light lunch or supper will be provided. Interested participants may register on Eventbrite or just turn up on the day. There is no cost to attend.


Advocates will guide the sessions and allow participants to share their experiences so that areas of change and gaps in the support system can be identified.  Barrier Breakers can then offer to support or facilitate participants in running initiatives brought forward in the group sessions by providing advocacy on an individual level or a systemic level. The advocates will also provide any information or referral to gambling support organisations.


Participants are encouraged to attend multiple sessions to follow up on any ideas and actions identified in previous sessions.


No identifying information will be taken from participants during the sessions unless the participants choose to provide it. Barrier Breakers will be a non-judgemental soundboard for all those who attend.


What: Gambling Advocacy Program (GAP) – Discussion Group for Advocacy in Gambling Issues and Mental Health


Where: Kath Teychenne Centre, 11-13 Breed Street, Traralgon





Cost: Free


Contact:  Linda or Elise on (03) 5174 4588 or email at for more information.


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2017 People’s Choice Community Lottery

Barrier Breakers Inc. is delighted to be part of the 2017 People’s Choice Community Lottery. For just $2 a ticket you can win some fabulous prizes.

To support Barrier Breakers by buying tickets in the lottery, go to:

See the full list of prizes here: social google plus social facebook social pinterest social
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Silence For a Voice Challenge Update

Our fundraiser, The Silence For  A Voice Challenge, is now finished. Sadly, in spite of all the publicity we put out about this event, and in spite of considerable interest being voiced by many people, nobody actually signed up as a contestant. That means, of course, that no prizes will be awarded.

This is very disappointing, and we hope that our next fundraiser will attract not just interest but participation. Keep watching to find out what it might be. social google plus social facebook social pinterest social
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Cunningham Dax Exhibition

Cunningham Dax Art Exhibition


We are delighted to be able to have part of the Cunningham Dax Collection coming to Traralgon for our Art – A Way Out Of The Darkness exhibition.

Because of his world wide reputation as a leading psychiatrist and mental health reformer, in the early 1950’s Dr Eric Cunningham Dax was head-hunted by the Bolte Government to reform Victoria’s mental health system.

He was appointed as founding Chairman of the then Mental Hygiene Authority (later to be known as the Mental Health Authority) in 1952.

During his service to Victoria, Dax introduced many far-reaching reforms, resulting in the Authority becoming known as the leading training ground for psychiatry and mental health work for all the English speaking populations of the south west pacific region.

He had a burning zeal to expand psychiatric services, the teaching of psychiatry and the education of Doctors in the psychiatric principles and this led him to be the founder of the Chair of Psychiatry at Melbourne University.

Teaming up with Edward Adamson Cunningham Dax pioneered art therapy as part of mainstream psychiatric treatment.

He soon began a collection of works produced by psychiatric patients, which grew to become the largest collection of its type in the world. The collection currently includes over 15,000 pieces and is located at the Dax Centre in the grounds of Melbourne University.

Because of the connection with the old Hobson’s Park Psychiatric Hospital, it is very appropriate that a small part of this collection is now to be shown in Traralgon. The Art- A Way Out Of The Darkness exhibition will be held at St James’ Church in Grey St, Traralgon from Thursday 17th November till Sunday 20th November. Opening night on Thursday 17th will run from 7pm till 9pm, and on Friday 18th and Saturday 19th the exhibition will be open from 10am till 4pm. On Sunday 20th the exhibition will be open from 1pm till 4pm, and attendees will be invited to take part in a collaborative art project.

Following from the exhibition, Barrier Breakers will be offering an art course for people affected by mental illness. The course will run through February and March 2017, and application forms will be available at the exhibition.

Barrier Breakers is extremely grateful to both the Keith Chenhall Charitable Trust and the Latrobe City Arts Trust for the funding to make this exhibition and the follow-up art course possible, and to the Dax Centre for making part of the collection available, and to St James’ Church for making the church premises available for both the exhibition and the course.


New Office in Sale

We are delighted to announce that Barrier Breakers Inc. now has a new office in Sale. This means that our clients from the Sale area and further east will be saved the long journey into Traralgon to access our services.

We have been working toward this for some time, with a few setbacks along the way. Even though we had been offered suitable office space some time ago, we were unable to take up that offer because we lacked both the funding and the staff to make it operational. Now we have several volunteers from the Sale area who are excited to be able to work locally rather than travelling to Traralgon, and have been able to equip the office temporarily whilst we wait for some funding that we hope will allow a proper fit-out.

As I write we are still waiting for the phones to be connected and the computers to arrive, but some of our volunteers are already working out of the office using laptops and mobile phones.

Would People Pay For You To Be Quiet?

The Silence For A Voice Challenge


If they would, why not put their money where your mouth is by entering the Silence For A Voice Challenge.

The concept is simple: Barrier Breakers is a voice for people with mental illness, speaking up for those who are not able to speak up for themselves. We are asking people to help us keep speaking up for those who need it by being silent for a period of time, and seeking sponsors for each ten minutes of silence.

You can nominate when you are going to be silent. We would like it to be during Mental Health Week, 9th – 16th October, but if that week doesn’t suit, feel free to nominate another time. Just be sure to allow enough time for your sponsorship money to come in before the Challenge ends on 30th November 2016. You can nominate how long you are going to be silent, but it should be in ten minute multiples, because your sponsors will be sponsoring each ten-minute unit. So, for example, if you are being silent for an hour, your sponsors will be paying for six units. Of course, your time of silence should be when you would normally be talking, not when you would be asleep or otherwise unable to speak, and you will need to appoint a “silence buddy” to assure your sponsors that you have actually been silent for that time.

You can sign up either as a Challenger – just to have fun and raise money for Barrier Breakers – or as a Contestant, to have a chance of winning some great prizes if you raise the most money. The Challenge is being run through our GiveMatcher account, so you don’t have to worry about collecting money, just check to see that your sponsors have paid in on your page. This also means that you can boost your chances by asking your employer or local businesses to match your sponsorship pledges up to an amount they nominate.

If you don’t want to do the Challenge yourself, you might like to nominate one of your friends, and offer to be his/her first sponsor.

Alternatively, if you would pay money to have a public figure be quiet for a while, you might like to sponsor one of our Celebrity Challengers. So far Federal M.P. Darren Chester, State M.P. Russell Northe, and Latrobe City Councillor Sandy Kam have all agreed to be Celebrity Challengers. We will be putting their details up on the web site soon.

For more details, go here.