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Working together for mental health and wellbeing

Barcaldine Region

Solutions that are ‘locally led, locally understood and locally implemented’ are at the heart of the National Drought and Flood Agency’s work with North Queensland communities affected by the 2019 flood event.

A common theme during our consultations when developing “After the flood: A strategy for long term recovery” was creating opportunities for people to keep connected, and giving them the skills to look out for and support each other. That’s why “Connected and Cohesive Communities” is one of the 5 strategic priorities.

People told us they want programs that are created with, and led by, their communities.

A great example of this can be found a little further south in the Barcaldine region. The area’s been dealing with a long and difficult drought, on top of the added stresses of living in a remote part of Queensland, raising families and managing businesses.

The HEAD YAKKA mental health and wellness program, an initiative of Outback Futures, Barcaldine Regional Council and University of Southern Queensland, was launched in 2019 following almost 3 years of community discussions around issues of mental health.

Outback Futures’ CEO Selena Gomersall explains HEAD YAKKA is combining our smarts (head) with our capacity for hard work (yakka) to bring meaningful change in mental health and wellbeing in outback communities.

“We’re seeing communities working together to create an environment where mental health and wellbeing issues are familiar, safe and valued,” Ms Gomersall said.

She said through HEAD YAKKA, people are developing a better understanding their mental health needs and ways they can improve their wellbeing. The results speak for themselves – HEAD YAKKA is becoming part of the vernacular, with comments like “I had a HEAD YAKKA conversation at work today” or “She’s doing some HEAD YAKKA” work.

"The value of HEAD YAKKA is being recognised by other outback communities and we've started having conversations about integrating HEAD YAKKA across more remote and very remote Queensland regions," Ms Gomersall said.

Watch more about the Barcaldine community and HEAD YAKKA below. 

You can read “After the flood: A strategy for long-term recovery” here.

Find out more about HEAD YAKKA here


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