27 July 2022

The flood impacted communities of Woodburn, Mullumbimby, Murwillumbah and Lismore will see increased mental health support, thanks to a significant investment from NSW Government that will see four new Safe Haven centres open to support people at their most vulnerable.

Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor said the four Safe Havens, part of the NSW Government’s $25 million mental health and wellbeing flood recovery package, will provide safe, calm, supportive and non-judgemental spaces for people in the community experiencing mental health distress to seek support.

“Instead of struggling alone or heading to a bustling emergency department, anyone who is experiencing mental health distress can now head to one of these purpose-designed Safe Havens,” Mrs Taylor said.

“There are no appointments or referrals needed, so whether you need some peace and quiet, a chat with someone who understands what you’re going through, or some calming activities to reduce the intensity of your negative thoughts and feelings, you can walk right in.

“Each Safe Haven is staffed with peer workers with lived experience of suicidal behaviour, which means they are able to empathise and form a unique connection with people when they are at their most vulnerable.”

Mrs Taylor said the centres have been specially designed to provide a welcoming environment and offer a wide range of services, including information, referrals and counselling support.

“These Safe Havens offer a warm and inviting environment where people can informally and confidentially chat to trained staff, have a cup of tea or coffee, play board games or puzzles, join an activity or chill out in a quiet spot,” Mrs Taylor said.

Healthy North Coast Chief Executive Officer Julie Sturgess has welcomed the NSW Government’s support for Northern Rivers communities.

“Through the NSW Government Flood Recovery program, Healthy North Coast has been able to establish and fund the four Safe Havens as places of support and refuge, offering immediate, personalised and compassionate mental health support and counselling,” Ms Sturgess said.

“We know many people are focusing on the basics right now, but we are also seeing great demand for mental health support to catch those in immediate distress or who might be feeling overwhelmed.

“Each Safe Haven is already operational and community members are dropping by. If you or someone you know needs mental health support and is not sure where to turn, I urge you to visit or recommend one of our Safe Havens,” Ms Sturgess said.

The NSW Government is investing $25 million over three years in mental wellbeing for flood impacted communities. $1 million of this funding is dedicated to the four Safe Havens in Northern NSW, with a further $7 million for clinical and non-clinical staff in the region, including staff at the four Safe Havens.

For more information on the Woodburn, Lismore, Mullumbimby and Murwillumbah based Safe Havens, please visit Safe Haven North Coast.

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:

  • Lifeline 13 11 14
  • Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
  • NSW Mental Health Line 1800 011 511