Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester has confirmed the national roll-out of the Open Arms Community and Peer Program, following the success of a two-year pilot program in Townsville.
The program sees experienced peers working alongside veterans, family support, community agencies and mental health clinicians to provide insight and support to those who need it, providing a “more holistic and therapeutic experience for clients”.
These community and peer advisers provide “intensive case management and referral for difficult post-service issues”, such as finances, relationships, employment and physical and mental health.
”The government is putting veterans and their families first and is committed to ensuring that they have access to the mental health support they need,” Minister Chester said.
“The primary aim of the Townsville Community and Peer Pilot was to enhance the management of complex and high-risk clients in the region, particularly vulnerable individuals considered to be at risk of suicide. The pilot demonstrated that ‘lived experience’ mental health peer workers within Open Arms could enhance the management of vulnerable clients.”
With the program rolling out to all states and territories throughout the year, chief executive of Townsville Private Hospital Patrick McGurrin hailed the impact it could have on veterans lives.
”Peer support can connect with vulnerable individuals on a more personal level than traditional mental health support programs. This can result in more timely and comprehensive care being provided by specialist mental health services to those in need,” McGurrin said.
The Community and Peer Program also assists individuals and families who are currently accessing Open Arms services to link up with other services and initiatives offered to the veteran community.
Open Arms peers also support a regional peer network, “co-ordinating mentoring and training for other peers working with the veteran community”.
More information on the program can be found at www.openarms.gov.au.