Bunyarra Counselling’s Michael Sanford with members of the KCCI Executive and guest speaker David Shillington at the launch of the SMILE program in June this year

September 21, 2021

Two South Burnett projects targeting mental health and wellbeing have received grants from the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal.

The Wesley Mission Queensland has received $18,619 to train local men to deliver the Marcus Mission suicide prevention initiative in Murgon and Cherbourg.

And the Kingaroy Chamber of Commerce & Industry has received $12,000 to run Stage 2 of its SMILE (Supporting Mental Wellbeing through Information, Leadership and Education) program for business owners.

The grants have been funded through FRRR’s “In A Good Place” program which provides support for community-driven initiatives that reduce social isolation, increase social participation and encourage people in remote, rural and regional communities who are at risk of, or are experiencing, mental health issues to seek help.

The national grant program, now in its fifth year, is funded by CCI Giving, the charitable foundation of Catholic Church Insurances.

A KCCI spokesperson said the latest funding would allow it to run 22 sessions of NICL training developed and facilitated by Bunyarra Counselling and Mediation.

“The Chamber has already funded four sessions of NICL training this year, which has been praised by those who have attended,” the spokesperson said.

“NICL stands for Notice, Inquire, Connect and Link. Notice a change in someone, Inquire to see how that individual is, make a Connection with them and Link them to appropriate services in our region.

“The SMILE initiative is part of the Kingaroy Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s commitment to the mental wellbeing of business owners, managers and their staff.”

FRRR CEO Natalie Egleton said the “In A Good Place” grants program was critical as many rural communities across Australia do not have access to the level of resources that they need when it comes to mental health and wellbeing support.

“Many rural people rely on a sense of strong community to get through the difficult times. But, after a year and half of COVID-19 restrictions, the events and activities that would usually be a way for people to connect and heal, haven’t been able to go ahead. So many people are feeling increasingly disconnected and socially isolated,” Ms Egleton said.

“On top of the cumulative impact of natural disasters like drought, fires, flood and cyclones, this has meant that many rural Australians now have an even greater need for both preventative mental health measures, as well as non-clinical support for mental health and wellbeing issues.

“It also means that communities have had to think outside of the box and find new ways of helping people to connect and care for their mental health.

“We’re grateful to be able to partner with CCI Giving to support these local projects, which we know will really make a difference.”

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