Title image: Ceduna/ Far West Our Town team member Simone Miller of the Kokatha tribe of the far west coast and Wongatha tribe of Western Australia shared her experience as a sistergirl growing up in the Koonibba Aboriginal community and her peer mentorship and advocacy work supporting other young sistergirls across Australia.

In March 2021, representatives from the six Our Town communities – Berri, Ceduna, Cummins, Kangaroo Island, Kimba, and Mid Murray – came together on Kangaroo Island.

Our Town is a ten-year, place-based mental health initiative supporting community-determined responses to mental health and wellbeing. The Our Town initiative aims to build on the capacity of people living in rural and regional South Australian towns to support each other in the face of mental health and wellbeing challenges. The initiative supports towns and regions to define what’s right in and for their community, so that they can reclaim the mental wellbeing of their community.

The retreat was an opportunity for representatives of the six towns – all passionate about improving mental health and wellbeing for their communities- to connect in real life after a year of zoom workshops, meetings, and coaching sessions. Community members were also joined by support team members from TACSI, Clear Horizon, and Fay Fuller.

Our Town community members from across South Australia and support team members at the Remarkable Rocks.

The retreat provided a space for the Our Town teams to share their experiences and learnings after a year of deep consultation with their communities. As they reflected on 2020, community members found points of intersection and similarity, as well as points of difference and shared the plans and ideas they aim to implement over the course of 2021.

Emma Gale, Cummins Our Town team member and Amie Johnson, Mid Murray Our Town team member connecting over what they’d had to put on hold in order to be at the retreat.

Kangaroo Island resident Sabrina Davis joined us to talk about both personal and community resilience. Sabrina shared her story of loss during the 2019/2020 Kangaroo Island bushfires and her passion for storytelling which led her to share the stories of people in her community through Humans of Kangaroo Island.

On the final day of the retreat we sat in quiet contemplation on the Remarkable Rocks in Flinders Chase National Park. We spent the time envisioning what was next for Our Town, and how by coming together we could establish a network to drive much needed change in how we support regional mental health and influence broader systems change.

Ceduna/ Far West Our Town team member Sandy Taylor reflecting on the year that has been and the future potential of the Our Town Network

For more information on Our Town you can check out the Our Town platform or contact the Fay Fuller Foundation.