Free service revolutionises how vulnerable get support
A NEW free North Coast service has launched to revolutionise the way the region’s most vulnerable access mental health support.
Agape Outreach, a charity based in Tweed that provides services to the homeless, is well-known for filling the gaps in the system where the needy fall through.
Their latest venture is the brainchild of founder Theresa Mitchell and aims to help marginalised people access Medicare mental health plans through a partnership with drug and alcohol specialist psychologist Dr Joel Porter.
Dr Porter explained traditional mental health plans accessed through your general practitioner often missed those suffering from homelessness because it required the person to have a level of organisation and be vulnerable in an unfamiliar environment.
“Theresa’s vision is to create a mental health service and a case management service to help people get to and access the resources they need,” he said.
“Since people come here (Agape) for food and clothing and its kind of a gathering hub in general with the op shop then if you have a mental health service they will also come here for that because they are familiar with it.”
The new service is a step towards Agape becoming a holistic spot for support for those in need.
The new psychologist program kicked off in August with Dr Porter available every Wednesday from 10am-4pm for individual appointments as well drug and alcohol group sessions across the lunchtime period.
Agape is in the process of looking for other psychologists with Medicare registration to join Agape on other days of the week to provide counselling sessions.
Dr Porter explained there was no obligation from participants and group sessions were aimed at “people trying to make some changes in their substance use and their lifestyles”.
“A success for me is for someone to experience that they do have the ability to make changes in their lives where they can feel better and feel like they have control of their life and they can start moving in a genuine true direction of their life,” he said.
“A big success is when people can experience genuine real human connections and that’s how people change.”
Ms Mitchell said appointments with Dr Porter could also help people pay off their fines.
“For those who can’t pay their fines, they can pay them off through work development orders by volunteering with us or seeing our a psychologist,” she said.
To book an appointment walk into Agape Outreach at 56 Recreation St in Tweed Heads or call 0414693670.