Make lives better

making lives betterOne of the proposals passed at the 2016 Synod meeting expressed concern about governments no longer adequately funding services which protect the vulnerable in our community.

Put forward by the synod’s Justice and International Mission (JIM) Unit, the Synod meeting heard that if Australia collected close to what other OECD governments collect in revenue, billions of dollars would be available. This money could be spent on supporting our communities and programs that encourage people to reach their full potential.

The JIM unit’s Make Lives Better campaign will focus on the services that will benefit from an increase in revenue. Part of the campaign calls on the federal government to collect more revenue for mental health services.

In 2014 the federal government changed the way it funds mental health services. Service delivery moved to an individualised service plan called a ‘recovery model’. This new model focusses on individual care, however, this has meant that drop-in centres, group programs, and day programs were all de-funded.

Rev Natalie Dixon-Monu runs community programs previously provided by large mental health agencies. There are 400 people on her books, all of whom receive crisis management and participate in programs. Ms Dixon-Monu runs these programs at the Boroondara Community Outreach ministry without federal funding; she relies on grants and local council support.

Most of the people who attend Ms Dixon-Monu’s programs have disabilities or mental health illnesses.

Michele has been diagnosed with chronic borderline personality disorder and chronic schizoaffective disorder.

Natalie and Michele believe that people with mental illness still need places during the day to engage socially. Michele said the services provided by the program are important for her wellbeing.

“It is very easy to for people to think ‘she lives in supported accommodation, that’s good enough’,” Michele said. “But I must say the community activities I participate in, they mean so much to me, they are socially connecting and they are fun. Our music band is really good when we practice together and sing songs. We have gym and art and writing class. Rev Natalie doesn’t stop. She is always helping people. She is a saint. That’s all there is too it.

“When I am unwell I can’t cope socially. I need these programs for my wellbeing. I come home feeling like I have achieved something that day.”

For copies of the postcard for the campaign, please phone (03) 9251 5271 or e-mail

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