The opening of a purpose-designed Safe Haven in Parkes providing refuge and support for people experiencing suicidal thoughts or distress, has been described as a game changer.
“Our community has needed it for quite a while. We are losing too many of our people, and I’ve seen both sides of the fence – from the professional side and from lived experience,” said ambulance man Dan Wright. He told the story of his son to Helen McFarlane, Acting Executive Director of Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol. “I knew we had to make a space, and I’m very glad we can share this with you today,” Helen said.
The Safe Haven at Suite 3, 195-199 Clarinda Street, is part of a state-wide initiative to trial innovative suicide prevention strategies, and was opened by the Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor on Wednesday.
“This is what matters, it is about having the courage to try different and innovative care, the need to embrace people, the need to make them feel safe, and to know the services are out there.”
The Safe Haven in Parkes is staffed by peer workers Max Mangano and Jade Burton who have lived experience of suicidal distress. “The peer workers are amazing people, and I am very happy to have met them this morning,” said the minister. “They can empathise with anyone who walks through the doors and help them to identify services that can support them on an ongoing basis.”
Max said he believed in the safe haven model, and saw it as an opportunity to do something good following his personal mental health experience.
Mark Spittal, acting Chief Executive said: “COVID has taught us to be less systemised, and more human, and we are getting better outcomes doing that. We hope this is what this safe haven is all about.”
The Parkes Safe Haven is a free and confidential services, no referral is required and anyone can drop in from Monday to Friday from 9am to 4:30pm. It has been open since 30th November.