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SP AusNet Supports Barrier Breakers

Electricity supply company, SP AusNet, continue to recognise the work of Gippsland’s mental health advocacy association and charity, Barrier Breakers Inc., this week with a $4,500 donation.

Each year SP Ausnet encourages its employees to become involved in community work by offering a $500 grant for its employee’s charity of choice if they undertake 20 hours or more of community work in the year.

LanceCheque 2014 Sml

For a record 4th year in a row, well-known and respected Sale resident, Lance Hunt, has donated his $500 grant to Barrier Breakers through his work as convenor of the Wellington Chapter of Barrier Breakers.

However there was even better news for this mental health advocacy as SP AusNet also donated a further $4000 to Barrier Breakers.

Jim Haylock, Regional Customer and Community Manager in Gippsland, said he was delighted to provide financial support to such a worthy organisation as Barrier Breakers.

“This association is doing a marvellous job in lifting the profile of mental health in our community and advocating for those impacted by mental illness,” Mr Haylock said. “Barrier Breakers has also developed a supported accommodation program for people with long-term mental illness and SP AusNet is pleased to be able to assist this important program,” he said.

In accepting the donations, Chief Executive Officer of Barrier Breakers, Susan Lloyd, said her association welcomed this support and she praised the work of Lance Hunt.

Ms. Lloyd said Lance became involved in Barrier Breakers around 4 years ago and has since organised a number of fund-raising activities, including marathon bike rides throughout the region, social fund-raisers and street stalls and his efforts have raised in excess of $70,000 to date. “This man is simply unstoppable – he continually demonstrates the energy and tenacity to enthuse others and in the process, raise large amounts of money for the cause, no matter sometimes the state of his own health and well-being”.

“In any one year, more than 50,000 Gippslanders will be impacted by mental illness and we have a long way to go to address the needs of many of our citizens, who fall between the cracks”. Ms. Lloyd concluded by again thanking AusNet and lance Hunt for their generous support.

For further information – contact Derek Amos on 0428397706

Join our lobby campaign for supported accomodation

Who wants to join our lobby campaign in Gippsland aimed at the forthcoming state elections? Barrier Breakers will be specifically targeting all candidates from the major parties to gain support for our supported accommodation program. Despite Gippsland’s population growing by more than 60,000 since the government closed the only psychiatric hospital in the region, there are less than 200 beds available for people with a mental illness than there was then. This translates to an approximate 62% reduction in beds for a 40% increase in population. What a wanton neglect of our most vulnerable people! Meanwhile, 85% of all homeless people have a mental illness and more than 30% of all prisoners in Victorian jails have a mental illness. This demonstrates that we desperately need appropriate supported accommodation for people with long-term (chronic) mental illness – not homelessness and/or prison. If you are moved to help, please contact us for details of the campaign.

Derek Amos
Barrier Breakers Inc

Barrier Breakers scores again

“Sale’s irrepressible charity dynamo has done it again”; this statement was made by the CEO of Gippsland’s mental health advocates, Barrier Breakers, when told of yet another charity award given this week to veteran cyclist, Lance Hunt.

Mr. Hunt had been awarded $500 by his employer, SP AusNet, for devoting more than 20 hours of his free time to charity.

The company runs a program to encourage its workforce to become involved in community work and Mr. Hunt and a number of other employees of the company willingly took-up the challenge and the charities of their choice were rewarded.

Being long concerned to improve mental health services in the Gippsland region, Lance Hunt sought-out Barrier Breakers around 3 years ago and has since organised a number of fund-raising activities, including marathon bike rides throughout the region, and his efforts have raised in excess of $50,000 to date.

Barrier Breakers CEO, Derek Amos, said Lance Hunt is the dynamo that every charity dreams of.

He said all community organisations would have a fair share of “go-getters”, but people with the energy and tenacity to continually raise large amounts of money are few and far between.

“Lance is such a person”. He is a tremendous asset to have as a member of our association”; this fact has been acknowledged by our Board, which recently appointed Lance as a Director of the association”.

Mr. Hunt was responsible for the recent formation of the Wellington Chapter of Barrier Breakers and he is currently finalising arrangements for the 2013 Gippsland Marathon ride for mental health, which is scheduled to leave Sale on 8 April.

Mr. Amos said the SP AusNet donation would be directed towards the Barrier Breakers supported accommodation project with its pilot scheduled to commence operations later this year.

“This project is the first of its kind in our region”. “Its aim is to provide secure and affordable, long-term accommodation for people with chronic mental illness accompanied by both clinical support and an on-going day-care program”.

For further information – contact Derek Amos on 0428397706

Youth Mental Illness – Critical Need For Support

There is a critical need in Gippsland for a 24 hour residential and treatment facility for young people who are suffering from drug and alcohol abuse and/or induced early psychosis.

In a letter to all coalition government MP’s in Gippsland, the region’s mental health advocate, Barrier Breakers, has called for the establishment of a Youth Prevention and Recovery Care Service, known as a Y-PARC.

Y-PARC’s provide 24 hour residential, treatment and support to young people aged 16-25. They are particularly designed as an alternative to inpatient care and to assist in transitioning young people from hospital care back into their communities.

A Y-PARK was opened in Bendigo last week to serve young people in the Bendigo Loddon Mallee region at a cost of around $10 million.

Barrier Breakers CEO, Derek Amos has told Gippsland MP’s that “While not denying a need for this service in Bendigo, we submit that the underlying factors, which resulted in the government’s decision to locate the Bendigo Y-PARC, are arguably just as relevant and strong and probably more in need of redress, right here in Gippsland”.

Mr. Amos said Gippsland’s need was evidenced by the government’s extra funding for Latrobe Regional Hospital (LRH) to extend facilities for alcohol and drug effected young people who present at the hospital’s Accident and Emergency Department (A&E).

He said, “To really properly address this problem, this “first point of contact” at the A&E must be followed-up with the treatment and support that a Y-PARC can offer. This region has no other alternative residential and treatment option for our young people.”

“There is an alarming increase in alcohol and drug induced psychosis in our society.”

“More relaxed liquor licensing laws extended trading hours and a concentration of night-clubs and dance club venues have all provided easier access to party drugs and alcohol, which is seriously impacting on our young people with increasing incidents of youth Psychosis.”

“This is no more evident than in those larger towns in our region where there is a concentration of liquor outlets, which particularly target young people. For example, Traralgon has now the dubious reputation of being the “night-club capital” of Gippsland.”

“It is of little wonder why it is considered necessary to expand the LRH A&E to address the problem”,Mr. Amos concluded.”

Barrier Breakers has offered to meet the targeted MP’s, either individually in their electorate offices or collectively at Parliament House to further lobby for a Y-PARC for Gippsland.

For further information – contact Derek Amos on 0428397706

Barrier Breakers Calendars – A Huge Success

Barrier Breakers Inc, Gippsland’s mental health advocacy association was presented with a cheque for $20,000 this week to go towards their supported accommodation units for people with a mental illness.

The money was raised from the sales of a specially designed calendar/Italian recipe book combo, which was the brainchild of Sale personality and veteran cyclist, Lance Hunt.

In handing over the “big cheque”, Mr. Hunt said, “I am delighted that the fund-raising event had been so successful and will make such a meaningful contribution to the lives of some of the most disadvantaged people in our community”.

“The calendar project has also highlighted the generosity of Sale residents and the business community and their compassion for homeless people with a mental illness”.

Mr. Hunt praised the businesses, which supported the publication by page and/or half-page sponsorship. “This has meant that every dollar raised through calendar sales will go directly to the Barrier Breakers supported accommodation project”.

In accepting the cheque, Barrier Breakers CEO, Derek Amos, said the provision of fully supported accommodation for people with a mental illness was one of the region’s largest unmet needs.

He said construction of the pilot project in Traralgon would commence early this year and that following its evaluation, his association planned to roll-out similar units throughout the region with Sale high on the agenda.

Mr. Amos said Health Minister David Davis, Housing Minister Wendy Lovell and Mental Health Minister, Mary Wooldridge jointly announced state government support for the project late last year.

“Crown land in Traralgon will be leased to Barrier Breaker’s partners, Eastcoast Housing, who are providing $600,000 for the project, another partner, Mind Australia, will receive $348,000 over the next four years to provide outreach support services to the tenants and the Ministry of Housing will also provide around $450,000 towards the construction/development costs”.

Mr. Amos said the funds raised through the calendar sales will be of immense value to his association’s commitment to provide a community contribution of $150,000 towards the project.

“We owe a huge debt to Lance and his tireless team, who now make up the Wellington Chapter of Barrier Breakers”. “Well done and thank you everyone”, Mr. Amos concluded.

The newly formed Wellington Chapter will be holding a meeting at the Equus Café at 2PM on Sunday next (10 February). New members are most welcome.


For further information contact Derek Amos on 0428397706 or Lance Hunt on 0417554663

Groundswell in Sale for Mental Health

Sale and Maffra residents have responded with unprecedented support for improved mental health services in Gippsland following the launch of the Sale Chapter of Barrier Breakers in November last year.

The Gippsland-wide mental health advocacy organisation was urged to form the Chapter by Lance Hunt, a member of Barrier Breakers and well known Sale cycling personality, who had initiated the now annual Gippsland marathon bike rides for mental health.

Mr. Hunt said he has been overwhelmed by expressions of interest in the work of Barrier Breakers and requests for membership applications over the Christmas period.

During this period, Mr. Hunt and other members have been manning street stalls to sell a special calendar/Italian recipe book combo to raise funds for the Barrier Breakers supported accommodation project for people with long term mental illness.

Mr. Hunt said the most encouraging aspect of this support is that it is coming mainly from young people who have been moved to now want to contribute their talents and time to help.

“We have even been approached by teenagers who are dead keen to join Barrier Breakers and make a difference in the lives of the mentally ill”

“I have simply been blown away by such enthusiasm – in all the years that I have been involved in sporting and community events and activities, I have never experienced such spontaneous support for a social issue before”, Mr. Hunt said.

Barrier Breakers CEO, Derek Amos said his Board was delighted to receive so much support for their efforts to improve mental health services in the region and praised Lance Hunt for initiating such interest.

He said he intended to present a program of activities for the Sale Chapter to consider at its next meeting and he was looking forward to welcoming the new members and supporters.

The meeting will be held at 2.00PM on Saturday 13 January in the Equus cafe at the Wellington Entertainment centre.

For further information, contact Derek Amos on 0428397706

Barrier Breakers comes to Sale

A Sale Chapter of Barrier Breakers was established on Saturday when a group of Sale and Maffra citizens attended a luncheon meeting at the Legends Sports Club to hear from Barrier Breakers CEO, Derek Amos.

The people present agreed to take up membership of the Gippsland-wide mental health advocacy organisation and form a branch of Barrier Breakers in Sale.

Local personality and long-time supporter of Barrier Breakers, Lance Hunt was appointed interim convenor of the Chapter until a more formal structure is agreed in the New Year.

Mr. Amos told the meeting his Board was delighted to provide its many supporters in the Sale/Maffra districts with an opportunity to join in the organisations efforts to improve mental health services in the Gippsland region.

“While both federal and state governments are pursuing mental health reform agendas, much, much more needs to be done to extend essential services in vast and diverse regions like Gippsland.”

“One of the essential areas of reform is the establishment of regional Mental Health Boards to be actively involved in the planning of mental health services and local administration”.

Mr. Amos said this area of reform was particularly necessary in spread-out and remote rural settings because local people had a far better hands-on knowledge of deficiencies and needs than bureaucrats in either Melbourne or Canberra.

“Whether you live in Sale, Orbost, Cowes, Moe or Warragul and experience mental illness, either directly or as a concerned family member or carer, you have a far better understanding of the deficiencies in the system than a faceless person outside the area.”

Mr. Amos praised the generosity of the Sale and Maffra community, who have given so freely to the Barrier Breakers supported accommodation project. Six units of special long-term accommodation for people with chronic mental illness is being developed as a pilot program in Traralgon, which  Barrier Breakers is planning to roll-out in all major centres in the region.

“We congratulate our supporters in sale who have been working tirelessly to help us make up a $150,000 shortfall in the project’s costs”.

“In particular, we thank Lance Hunt for his initiative in the production of a special calendar/Italian recipe book combo, which is now selling throughout the region for $20.00 a copy”.

The calendar/cook-book combo is the brainchild of Lance, who shot the photos in regional Italy on his return from the Tour De France last year.

“This novel calendar/recipe book combo makes an ideal Christmas present as it is not only a very attractive and useful production, but all proceeds go to a local charity for a cause very much in-keeping with the spirit of Christmas”, Mr. Amos concluded.


For further information – contact Derek Amos on 0428397706

State Government Support for Barrier Breakers Project

The development of specially designed units of supportive accommodation in Traralgon for people with a mental illness moved a step closer this week with a public announcement of the state government’s decision to fund a vital component of the project.

Mental Health Minister, Mary Wooldridge announced the government will fund MIND, a partner of Barrier Breakers in the project, $348,000 over the next four years to provide outreach support to the proposed tenants of the units.

“It will be an important service for people who are referred from Latrobe Regional Hospital.”

In a letter to Barrier Breakers, Ms Wooldridge acknowledged the active role played by the organisation in advocating for the provision of supported accommodation for people with a mental illness.

She said she appreciated the time and effort Barrier Breakers had taken to advocate on behalf of people with a mental illness.

Barrier Breakers has partnered Eastcoast Housing Association (Eastcoast), MIND Australia (MIND) and Latrobe Regional Hospital Mental Health Services (LRH) to source funding for the project and to ensure the provision of clinical and outreach services for the tenants.

Derek Amos, CEO of Barrier Breakers said that Eastcoast had committed $600,00 to the capital cost of building the six units that are proposed and that it expected to raise a further $150,000 for the project through its public appeal.

Mr. Amos said LRH had relinquished the lease on crown land that it held in Traralgon to allow Eastcoast to lease the site for the project. He also said that subject to this lease being granted, the Department of Housing had committed a further $450,000 towards the capital cost of the project.

“Thanks to a very generous public response to our appeal, we are well on track to raise the $150,000 contribution we are committed to.”

“Our charity dinner last year raised in excess of $30,000 and other events in the past year had almost matched that effort.”

This Friday we are hosting the second of our charity dinners and we hope to better last year’s effort”.

Mr. Amos said while the wheels of bureaucracy turn slowly, everyone involved in the project was hopeful the other arms of government would expedite the process of the lease application to enable a speedy commencement of the project.


Gippsland’s mentally ill have missed out once again, according to Barrier Breakers, the region’s mental health advocacy group.

In commenting on an ABC 4 Corners program that exposed Victoria’s failure to spend millions of dollars of federal government monies earmarked for supported accommodation for the mentally ill, Barrier Breakers Chairman, Mr. Gordon Arthur, a Traralgon based surgeon, has blasted the state government for ignoring the plight of Gippsland’s mentally ill.

Last year, the federal government allocated $100 million to the states to provide supported accommodation for the mentally ill. Victoria’s share was around $25 million to provide 70 new accommodation places. But despite an accommodation crisis in this state, the state government has spent none of it. By contrast, NSW has already built 17 new units.

Mr. Arthur said he was stunned by the 4 Corners revelation.

“How can there be such a callous disregard for the plight of so many people, he asked. We are talking here of some of the most disadvantaged people in our society.”

Mr. Arthur said that Gippsland is in desperate need of additional supported accommodation places for the mentally ill.

“Gippsland has more than a 100 fewer beds for people with a mental illness than the region had in the decade 1966-76 – a 62% reduction in beds and a 40% increase in population.”

“There are less than 50 supported accommodation units in the whole region that are specifically reserved for people with a mental illness despite the fact that 1 in 5 people in our community are sufferers.”

“Nor is there any mental health specific supported accommodation for indigenous peoples in the Gippsland and yet they have special needs to be addressed, which continue to be ignored.”

Mr. Arthur said Barrier Breakers supported the call of the Mental Health Council of Australia (MHCA), who this week called on the federal government to take over responsibility of actually providing community-based beds.

The CEO of MHCA, David Crosbie, said this week that the states appeared to not “have the resources or the capacity to provide the number of community-based beds we need in this country.”

“Families and their carers are at crisis point. Their plight demands that governments’ take immediate action to sort out this unholy mess”, Mr. Arthur concluded.

For further information – contact Gordon Arthur on 51741878 0r Derek Amos on 51527711

Over 900,000 Australians now have mental health plans

A recent report has found Australians are accessing mental health care at unprecedented levels with the cost of the new Medicare Items for mental health services now three times higher than the initial federal government budget estimate.

This was revealed today by Derek Amos, the CEO of Barrier Breakers Inc, a Gippsland based mental health advocacy organisation.  Mr. Amos said the Report on the Mental Health and the New Medicare Services was released recently by the Mental Health Council of Australia and it reveals stark evidence of the need for urgent government action to improve mental health care in Australia.

The Report reveals that since the introduction of thew Medicare Items for mental health services:

  • Demand for mental health services continues to increase with over 5 million Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) payments being made since November 2006.
  • GPs have received over $215 million in payments for mental health consultations and psychologists have received over $250 million since November 2006 with the highest levels of payments occurring in recent months
  • Over 900,000 Australians now have mental health plans prepared by the GP
  • alcohol interlock device Women are twice as likely as men to get care under the new MBS services
  • People living in rural Australia have less access to the new MBS services, indicating a lack of appropriate health professionals and mental health specialists in rural Australia
  • Young people, and particularly young men, are underrepresented in the new services despite their high level of need
  • Out of pocket expenses are higher for services where the Medicare rebate is less than the scheduled fee – this includes psychological and psychiatric services
  • Although the previous government increased budget funding for the new measures to 753m for the period 200611, this increase falls way short of current levels of demand.

Mr. Amos said, ”it was just simply appalling that in this modern computer age, so little is known about the million people using the Better Access Programs, their conditions, their treatment and the degree to which the new mental health services are helping people and their families”.

I urge our Gippsland federal MP’s to press for an urgent evaluation of this report and to support measures to address these issues in the forthcoming federal Budget”, Mr Amos concluded.