My wonderful 80 year old father still talks about his time in the outback as a young man, visiting Roma and Charleville frequently. He speaks fondly of staying at The School of the Arts Hotel, the town folk and farmers he met, and their hard-working attitude, sense of fun and passion for the land and their community.
So, when Roses in the Ocean was invited by the Western Queensland Primary Health Network to be a part of their South West Mental Health Roundtable in Roma on March 10 and 11, I was both honoured and excited to be visiting this beautiful region I had heard so much about.
Brony and I flew into Roma on the morning flight just in time for a fabulous cooked country breakfast. The landscape was surprisingly green and lush, and filled with butterflies, I have never seen so many butterflies in my life, simply beautiful. Over our two days in Roma we met so many interesting people, listening to their stories and the difficulties they still face in spite of the rain and because of it.
The Roundtable was well attended by representatives from the Mental Health Commission, community leaders, health service providers and a number of other groups keen to understand the value of lived experience in their services and organisations.
On our first morning we were privileged to listen to and take part in a number of Roundtable discussions, and Brony was also invited to be a voice of lived experience during the panel discussion. The afternoon was spent workshopping in various groups about current practices in mental health and suicide prevention; what’s working, what’s not and what should we be doing going forward.
The Lived Experience forum we ran on the second day was attended by a diverse group of incredibly courageous people whose passion for change in the community and the inclusion of lived experience in all areas of suicide prevention was inspiring. Our four hours of discussion was heartfelt and challenging as we talked about how we could introduce practical ways for the community to support people in all areas of suicide prevention, and how we can assist them and contribute to their current lived experience initiatives.
Brony and I left Roma excited by the motivation that exists within the community for change. We are currently in discussions with Western Queensland PHN about returning to Roma and surrounding areas in the near future to speak at community events and run a number of capacity-building workshops.
Thank you to the Western Queensland PHN for inviting us, and the amazing people we met over our two days in Roma. Their generosity in sharing and their passion for inclusivity of lived experience in their community was inspirational and we look forward to returning and seeing more of their beautiful land and assisting the community.
Kathy Poulton, National Program Manager