STRIVING FOR CHANGE: (L-R) Carer and participant Kate Nagy, with CEO North Coast Primary Network Julie Sturgess , host and health journalist Dr Norman Swan and CEO of Northern NSW Local Health District Wayne Jones at the launch of the North Coast Collective in Ballina.
STRIVING FOR CHANGE: (L-R) Carer and participant Kate Nagy, with CEO North Coast Primary Network Julie Sturgess , host and health journalist Dr Norman Swan and CEO of Northern NSW Local Health District Wayne Jones at the launch of the North Coast Collective in Ballina. Francis Witsenhuysen

New health service to 'shake up the system'

CARERS and community members gathered for the launch of a new collective which strives to better the lives of those impacted by mental health or the misuse of drugs and alcohol.

North Coast Primary Health Network, in partnership with Mid North Coast and Northern NSW Local Health Districts, are behind the North Coast Collective (NCC) - a new vision seeking to improve the way they are investing in and delivering mental health care and alcohol and other drug services in the region.

Hosted by renowned ABC health journalist Dr Norman Swan, the event included group discussions from youth, people living in small communities, Aboriginal people, culturally and linguistically diverse people and those identifying as LGBTIQ.

In the discussions, community members had the chance to let the NCC know about any health service gaps they need to fill and how those working in the health and social services sectors could better serve community members.

CEO North Coast Primary Network Julie Sturgess said about 60 people from the community turned out for the launch.

"It was fantastic,” Ms Sturgess said.

"There was a real commitment from the group to endorse the need to change things within the health system and an endorsement of them wanting to be involved in that journey.

"This is what it's all about - involving the community and deciding outcomes and approaches that suit them.

"The reality is the health budget is not infinite and when we move forward we need to look at ways we spend money to get better outcomes. Collaborating with services more, and making joint decisions means we reduce duplicate services in the health system and reduce waste in the system... it's all focussed on a seamless journey for the consumers who want to use those services.” 

During community consolations at the launch, people shared their stories and gave feedback on what needs to change in the health system to help improve their lives.

"It reinforced that a lot of things consumers identified are outside the influence of Health (services), there was focus on housing, extra support and employment,” she said.

"The collective is a mechanism to challenge the current system, for us to really evaluate what we do today and ask is it outcome based? Are we delivering the best outcomes for patients with mental health and AOD problems in the region?

"We believe it needs a big shake up.” 

Lismore carer Kate Nagy shared her story and the hurdles she'd faced navigating the health system at the community consultation.

"It's just inconsistencies in the system,” Ms Nagy said.

"There are enough services on offer but it's the lack of communication between the services that creates issues.

"Like who looks after what, or how do I get that help... you have to do a lot of search and recovery to wade through and find out who's responsible or where you can get support.”

She said she the community consolation at the NCC launch had given her hope for the future.

"This collective is a real positive step,” she said.

"It has shown me that people in my situation or similar on the front line, whether they are carers, a worker or the person who has the mental health issue, will be listened too, because they are the ones in the best position to know.

"If you aren't part of the process then you can't criticise it. In this day and age there is so much blame and finger pointing. This is a great platform for people to get involved and to be proactive to facilitate change.”

Head to www.nccforbetterlives.com.au for more info and to stay updated on further community consolations.



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