Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor today officially opened the Wagga Wagga Safe Haven, with the new service part of an innovative trial providing refuge and support to people living in the Riverina who are experiencing suicidal thoughts or distress.
Mrs Taylor said the Safe Haven brings care into the community, away from bustling emergency departments.
“The Wagga Safe Haven is a safe, supportive and welcoming environment that offers an alternative to presenting to a busy emergency department when you’re feeling distressed or suicidal,” Mrs Taylor said.
“There is no doubt in my mind that this Safe Haven will be not only be life changing but life saving for many people. We know that if we can provide this support to someone before they are hospitalised the likelihood of further suicidal behaviours is significantly reduced.
“The Safe Haven provides a home-like and calm environment to talk through your worries or redirect your thoughts with carefully chosen activities.”
Lauren Demaj, a Peer Worker at the Wagga Safe Haven, said her role is to create a welcoming, reassuring place for new visitors.
“As a person with lived experience, I understand the anxiety felt by people who need to seek help,” Ms Demaj said.
“In the co-design process, we wanted to make sure everyone feels welcomed, invited in, and offered options to make them comfortable – whether they want to have a one-on-one chat or just spend some time in the sensory space.”
In addition to the Safe Haven, Wagga also has a new Suicide Prevention Outreach Team.
The mobile team provides care to people in suicidal crisis at or near their homes, with its aim to keep distressed persons connected with their family, friends and other valuable support networks.
The Wagga Safe Haven is located at 7 Yathong Street and opens every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 2.00pm – 9.00pm. No referral is required and it is a free and confidential service.
Wagga’s Suicide Prevention Outreach Team is co-located with the Safe Haven and is also available via telehealth. People can be referred by a mental health service, the NSW Mental Health Line and local community organisations.
The NSW Government has invested $25.1 million in the Safe Haven initiative and $21.35 million in the Suicide Prevention Outreach Teams, which are both part of the NSW Government’s Towards Zero Suicides initiative.
If you, or someone you know, is thinking about suicide or experiencing a personal crisis or distress, please seek help immediately by calling 000 or one of these services: