System to help ‘fill the cracks’

Joe Calleja [CEO Richmond Fellowship WA]
Joe Calleja [CEO Richmond Fellowship WA]

The first of five Partners In Recovery (PIR) programs to be launched in WA is through Bentley-Armadale Medicare Local, which serves the South Perth, Victoria Park, Belmont, Canning, Serpentine Jarrahdale, Gosnells and Armadale areas.

Eventually, all Australian Medicare Locals will have the program.

Mental health service provider Richmond Fellowship WA is the lead independent agency involved.

Chief executive Joe Calleja said with more than 35 years in social services and mental health, he had seen the sectors’ limitations and the confusion surrounding mental illness.

‘Many support organisations aren’t mental health-specific and don’t understand what’s behind a person’s behaviour,’ he said.

‘When clients experience a lot of rejection, in the process they learn it’s better not to accept help at all and will force the rejection by being difficult, unco-operative, resistant.’

Mr Calleja said the episodic nature of this behaviour could put work attendance and attitude, and therefore income and housing, at risk.

‘I know people who have lost their jobs because of this sort of thing,’ Mr Calleja said.

‘Education and mentoring helps agencies understand these behaviours and they can respond with more empathy.’

He said PIR would co-ordinate support services that until now had supported people in isolation, and allocate flexible funding to meet individual, short-term needs.

He said this would bring about systematic change.

‘I think the Medicare Local partners feel excited about being able to make a real difference in people’s lives ‘