Home /  Locations /  Port Macquarie

Port Macquarie

Address:
Unit 5, 1-5 Merrymen Way
Port Macquarie NSW

Phone: 02 5525 3200
Fax: 02 5525 3210

Opening Hours:
Mon–Tue: 9:00am–5:00pm
Wed: 9:00am–8:00pm
Thu–Fri: 9:00am–5:00pm

* After hours appointments are available

Outreach Locations:
Kempsey, Taree
Available services:
Counselling
Mediation & Dispute Resolution
Disability Family Services
Indigenous Services
Children’s Contact Service

Upcoming program dates

Parents not Partners

This is a six-session program for separated parents in conflict over their children. It is designed to improve emotional and developmental outcomes for children in separated families.
Port Macquarie: Wednesday 16 August, 23 August, 30 August, 6 September, 13 September, 20 September. Bookings are essential. Please phone 02 5525 3200.
Taree: Friday 4 August, 11 August, 18 August, 25 August, 1 September, 8 September. Bookings are essential. Please phone 02 6551 1200.

Building Connections

This is a three-hour interactive seminar for parents who are having trouble sitting down together to work out what is best for their children since their separation.
Building Connections is regularly run at Port Macquarie and Taree.
People attending Building Connections are mostly referred initially during the Family Dispute Resolution process or families using the Children’s Contact Service.

Seasons for Growth

This is an eight-week program for children aged 6 to 12 years who have experienced grief and loss in their lives due to significant change such as death, separation of parents or a natural disaster.
Port Macquarie: Tuesday 25/07/17 – Tuesday 19/09/17. Bookings are essential. Please phone 02 5525 3200.

Interrelate Mates

This is a monthly group that offers a place for men to share their life stories with other men. It provides support during difficult life transitions such as relationship breakdowns, changes in employment, parenting difficulties as well as general issues that men deal with daily.
Port Macquarie: Thursday 22 June, 20 July, 24 August, 21 September, 26 October, 23 November, 7 December. Bookings are essential. Please phone 02 5525 3200.



Looks like your child is using offensive language!

Here’s some information that will help you get your child back on track.

Cyberbullying can be a crime under either NSW or national law when it involves using the internet or a phone in a threatening, harassing or offensive way; to stalk or access accounts without permission; to spread lies or hurt someone’s reputation (defamation); to encourage someone to hurt themselves.

If you think your child may be a cyberbully, it is important to take immediate action and encourage them to take a different, more positive path.

Knowledge equals power

Ask your child whether something happened to make them respond in this manner. At a separate time, individually consider whether anything is happening in the home environment that may have triggered the anti-social behaviour.

Make it personal

Ask your child how they would feel if somebody else was doing this to them or someone they love.

Become a rule-maker

Create the rule that the only internet zones should be public areas of the home, such as the loungeroom or garden – and enforce it. That means taking away their mobile phone, if necessary.

Share your concerns

Flag the issue with your child’s teacher or school principal. Don’t be embarrassed – your child isn’t the only one in the world who is engaging in cyberbullying.

Enforce the authority element

Explain that their actions are illegal and could get them in trouble with the police, and that if that happens you may not be able to help them.

Seek additional guidance

If you or your child need extra help in dealing with this or other matters, book an appointment with one of Interrelate’s highly skilled practitioners on 1300 473 528.

Read More →

Wow – you’ve got quite the mouth on you!

Looks like you need a hand controlling your language. Here’s some information that will help set you on the right path…

What is flaming?

‘Flaming’ is posting personal insults and vulgar and angry words. Flaming is an intense argument that normally takes place in chatrooms or via instant messages or email. It may also occur on social-media sites and YouTube. It is a very aggressive form of intimidation.

  • Bullies who engage in flaming use capital letters, images and symbols to add emotion to their argument.
  • The flamer may put down someone’s race, gender, sexual orientation, economic status and more.
  • You need to report flaming to a trusted adult such as a parent, teacher, relative or family friend.
  • This type of behaviour is dangerous and can have serious consequences.
  • Flamers seek attention. It does not matter if the attention is positive or negative, as long as they get attention and a reaction.
  • Did you know that using vulgar and angry language with the intent to start fights is cyberbullying?
  • Did you know that flaming is a serious form of cyberbullying? You could humiliate the person or make them very sad or even depressed. Think about why you want to put someone else down – then put yourself in their shoes. Using the internet to get control over others is not going to make you feel better. Talk to a trusted adult about how you are feeling. Flame wars will never help anyone.
  • Did you know that every computer has an IP address that can be traced?

What is trolling?

Named after the wicked creatures found in children’s tales, an internet troll is someone who stirs up drama and abuses their online anonymity by deliberately spreading hatred, bigotry, racism or misogyny, or just simply bickers between others.

Trolls search the internet for many different people to make negative comments about, wait for a response, then move on to the next person.

You can find trolls all over the Internet – on message boards, in your YouTube video comments, on Facebook in blog comment sections and everywhere else that has an open area where people can freely post to express their thoughts and opinions.

The most common ways to get rid of trolls are to either ban or block individual user accounts (and sometimes IP addresses altogether), report them to the authorities and the website or app, and close comment sections entirely from a blog post, video page or topic thread.

Cyberbullying facts

  • Each year, one in five young Australians aged 8 to 17 experience cyberbullying.
  • Australia is ranked number one in the world for bullying on social networks.
  • In Australia it’s against the law to use the internet or phone to harass, threaten or offend others.
  • If found guilty of cyberbullying crimes, the maximum penalty is three years’ imprisonment or a fine of more than $30,000.
  • Cyberbullying can be a crime under either NSW or national law when it involves using the internet or a phone in a threatening, harassing or offensive way; to stalk or access accounts without permission; to spread lies or hurt someone’s reputation (defamation); to encourage someone to hurt themselves.
  • Visit www.esafety.gov.au to learn more.

How can I be a good digital citizen?

Being a ‘good digital citizen’ means using technology in a positive way, such as communicating responsibly with others online and knowing the rules when using apps, social media and forums.

To be a good digital citizen, remember these three Rs:

Right to safe online experiences

Responsibility to other internet users

Report inappropriate behaviour

Read More →

Looks like your child has sent an offensive image!

Here’s some information that will help you get your child back on track.

What is sexting and what can I do if my child posts offensive images?

Sexting is the words ‘sex’ and ‘texting’ mixed together. It is when sexual, rude, naked or inappropriate photos or videos are shared on mobiles phones or online. These photos or videos usually involve one person sending images of their private parts or themselves doing rude actions.

It is against the law to send, receive or look at a ‘sext’ when any of the people involved are under the age of 18.

Here are some ways to help prevent your child from engaging in sexting:

  • Encourage them to think before they post. Ask prompting questions such as ‘Who might be able to see these photos?’, ‘Will this photo offend anyone?’ and ‘What are you trying to achieve by sending these photos?’
  • Tell them how hard it is to remove an image from the internet once it’s been posted, and acknowledge that once it’s online, strangers can use the image in whatever situation they like.
  • Teach your child that taking, having or sending sexually explicit photos of underage people – including of themselves – is illegal, and that once the police take over the case, there’s not much you can do to help them. Prevention is better than cure.
  • In a non-threatening way, learn more about what they do and who they speak to online.
  • Let them know that the lines of communication are open if they would like to speak with you about other issues that may be pushing them to send offensive or explicit images.

The laws on sexting in Australia

  • Young people under the age of 18 are considered a child/young person – and it is illegal to look at naked, indecent or inappropriate photos or videos of a child or young person.
  • If someone is found guilty of sexting, they may be placed on the sex offender register, which means the police will always watch them and know their personal information (where they live, their phone number, where they work).
  • If your child has sent a sext to someone, they could ask the person to delete it. However, once it is sent, they no longer have control over what happens to it, so there really isn’t anything they can do to prevent it from being shared with others.
  • Teach them to think before they send – it could have implications in the future!

Internet usage and kids in Australia

These days, Aussie kids aged six to 13 spend an average of almost 12 hours a week on the internet*. Most are going online for homework help, but 34% of children aged 8 to 13 also use social media, as do 82% of teens aged 14 to 17.

Children themselves have noted many upsides of social media, including staying connected with friends and family, keeping up to date, being entertained and having an easy way to planning their social lives, but they’ve also identified some downsides, such as nasty comments, inappropriate or hurtful content and the fear of missing out (FOMO).

In a 2016 study of 2448 young people aged 12 to 17 in Australia^, these were the findings:

25% have been the target of bullying or hurtful comments

56% have seen racist comments online

53% have seen or heard hateful comments about cultural or religious groups

33% have seen videos or images online that promote terrorism

Another study+ found that, in the 12 months to June 2016, of the young people aged 14 to 17 who were cyberbullied:

43% were socially excluded

39% were called names

38% received repeated unwanted online messages

36% had lies or rumours spread about them

19% received threats to their safety

15% had their accounts accessed by someone without their consent

10% had personal information posted without their consent

9% had inappropriate private photos of them posted without their consent

9% had someone impersonate them

and of the young people aged eight to 13 who were cyberbullied:

50% were socially excluded

39% were called names

28% had lies or rumours spread about them

17% received threats to their safety

12% had someone impersonate them

9% had their accounts accessed by someone without their consent

6% had personal information posted without their consent

*Roy Morgan Young Australians Survey, January 2007 to December 2016 

^Research commissioned by the Office of the eSafety Commissioner and the Department of Education and Training

+Research commissioned by the Office of the eSafety Commissioner


Keeping young people safe online

 

  1. MAKE THEIR ACCOUNT PRIVATE
  • Google how to use the privacy settings on the social-media site they’re using – it will give you instructions as to how you control who sees what your child does.
  • Check and update their privacy settings regularly – get into the habit of checking them on the first of every month, for example, to make sure they haven’t changed back to the original settings.

  1. TEACH THEM TO KEEP PERSONAL INFORMATION PRIVATE
  • The more information your child posts, the easier it is for a someone to find them or steal their identity.
  • Encourage them to check their photos and videos for any personal information before posting them.

  1. HAVE THEM CHANGE THEIR PASSWORD – MAKE IT LONG AND STRONG
  • A strong password has a mixture of capital and lowercase letters as well as numbers and symbols.
  • Having them change their password regularly (once a month should suffice) is a good idea.
  • Emphasise the importance of keeping their password to themselves.

  1. TEACH STRANGER DANGER
  • Your child should only become friends with people they actually know in real life – tell them to never accept friend requests or allow people to follow them if they have never met them personally.
  • If somebody they have never met wants to be their friend or follow them online, let your child know that they can block them, report them, ignore them and tell you or another adult about it.
  • If they receive a friend request from someone who says they are a friend of a friend, tell your child not to rely on their profile as proof of a relationship. Instead, they should confirm that their friend actually knows them before even considering accepting the request.

How to set privacy settings

  • Many social networks, like Facebook and Twitter, allow people to ‘check in’ each time they tweet or post an update. This can mean that strangers can see where your child, especially if their profile isn’t private.
  • To turn off location settings on Twitter, click on your child’s profile picture at the top right-hand side, scroll down to ‘Settings and privacy’, then to ‘Privacy and safety’ on the left-hand side, then untick the checkbox that says ‘Tweet with a location’. You can also press the button that says ‘Delete location information’, to clear information about where they’ve been in the past. You can also turn the location off on their actual mobile phone.

Setting boundaries for technology use

One of the best ways to set boundaries with children is to detail your expectations in black and white. Don’t know where to start? Print off our handy document.


Internet agreement for the                                household


  • I will not share any personal information about myself, including in pictures, as this could put me and others in my family in danger. Personal information includes my full name (first, middle and last), date of birth, school, password, phone number, address, location and sport clubs I play for.

  • Before I sign up, create an account or begin using a new program, I will ask permission first. I will wait for an adult to help me set up my account to make sure I have the correct privacy settings.

  • I will only use the internet for minutes of free time per day.

  • I will only use the internet in the area of the house.

  • I will only talk to people I actually know. If I don’t know them, I will ask an adult about them.

  • I will tell an adult immediately if someone says or posts something about me that makes me feel uncomfortable.

  • I will be friends with my parents/carers online.

  • I will be a responsible online citizen, meaning I will never bully others or say things I wouldn’t normally say to their face.

  • I will report anything I see online that is offensive, rude or nasty, even if it doesn’t involve me, as I may be helping others.

  • I will help my parents to understand different things online and I will teach them new things about the internet, tablets and other technology.

  • I will surrender my devices at dinnertime, at 8pm every night, and in the event I do not follow this agreement.

Signed

 

________________                       ___________________                _________________


Read More →

Whoops – looks like you’ve sent an offensive image!

Here’s some information that will help you get back on the right track.

What is sexting?

  • Sexting is the sending and receiving of sexually explicit photos or videos. Even if you and your friends want to share these types of photos or videos with each other, it is still against the law.
  • Sexually explicit photos and videos shared without the other person’s knowledge or consent is also considered sexting – and is also against the law.
  • Sexting is even more serious if you are under 18 years of age. It is against the law to send or receive an image or video that involves nudity or even partial nudity of someone under 18.
  • Sexting is a serious offence that can carry up to 15 years’ imprisonment. Perpetrators could also be placed on the sex offender register.
  • Did you know that if you get caught sexting it could stay on your record, changing the way you’re perceived by those at your school and even your future employer?
  • Think about your reputation – what would a family member or your teacher think?
  • Be considerate – treat others the way you would like to be treated.
  • Sexting can leave you vulnerable to cyberbullying, harassment and, in extreme cases, assault.
  • Remember that all of the photos and videos you create with your phone are often saved and retrievable as digital evidence, even years after you’ve taken them. They are sometimes stored on the servers of your mobile provider, in your phone’s Cloud account, or on the memory or SIM card of your phone (or any other phone that has sent and received them) – even if you have deleted them.
  • If you’ve posted or seen something inappropriate, talk about it with a trusted adult, such as your mum or dad, a family member, a friend or a teacher.

The laws on sexting in Australia

It is against the law to send, receive or look at a ‘sext’ when any of the people involved are under the age of 18.

  • Young people under the age of 18 are considered a child/young person – and it is illegal to look at naked, indecent or inappropriate photos or videos of a child or young person.
  • If you’re found guilty, you may be placed on the sex offender register, which means the police will always watch you and know your personal information (where you live, your phone number, where you work).
  • If you have sent a sext to someone, you could ask the person to delete it. However once it is sent you no longer have control over what happens to it, so there really
    isn’t anything you can do to prevent it from being shared with others.
  • Think before you send – it could have implications in the future!

What information should be kept private?

  • Your full name (first, middle and last) – instead use only your first name or an alternate spelling.
  • Your date of birth.
  • Your address.
  • Your phone number. Never share your parents’ phone numbers either, even if something pops up on the screen telling you that you’ve won something.
  • Where you go to school. Remember, when you share photos, people will know what you look like. If you also tell them what school you go to or post photos of you in your uniform, it’s very easy for them to find you.
  • Your location. While it can be fun to check in to places, you’re then letting people – including strangers – know where you are. It’s also not a good idea to check in when you’re away on holiday, because then you’ve basically told people nobody is home at your place. Think about what information you’ll be giving people before checking in.
  • What sport you play, as well as where you play and what time you play. Again, if you’re sharing photos of yourself, others will know what you look like, so they can go to your football, netball or soccer game and find you. It is also easy to find your sporting draw on the internet, which is why you shouldn’t reveal the name of your team. This is also true for other regular activities you may have, such as Scouts or dance.
  • Think about your profile picture. Information doesn’t just come from words, it also comes from the pictures you share. Therefore, having an image of a landscape, animal or character may be a good choice for a profile picture. Remember that in many cases your profile picture is never private.
  • Passwords. Keeping your password private is very important. Change it regularly and make it hard to guess by using capital letters, numbers and symbols.
  • Relationships you have with others online. Often, when sent a request, if we are unsure of who the person is, we look at their profile to see if they are friends with someone we know. If you accept their request without really knowing who they are, they will have access to all of your information. If your friend also gets a request and sees you are ‘friends’ with them, they are likely to accept it even though neither of you actually know the person. So always check there is a real relationship first.
  • Consider what constitutes ‘private’ information. This could be any details you wouldn’t want to share with people you don’t know well or at all, such as secrets, confessions and embarrassing content.

How can I protect my security?

  • Keep your mobile phone locked (and the passcode or password safe and private) so others can’t grab it, unlock it and use it when you’re not looking.
  • Only give your phone number to people you know for sure you can trust.
  • Use secure web browsers with ‘https’ at the start of the URL.

Don’t forget the location settings!

  • Many social networks, like Facebook and Twitter, allow you to check in each time you tweet or post an update. It might seem like fun for your friends to know where you are, but it can mean that people you don’t know can also see where you are, especially if your profile isn’t private.
  • To turn off your location settings on Twitter, click on your profile picture at the top right-hand side, scroll down to ‘Settings and privacy’, then to ‘Privacy and safety’ on the left-hand side, then untick the checkbox that says ‘Tweet with a location’. You can also press the button that says ‘Delete location information’, to clear information about where you’ve been in the past. You can also turn your location off on your actual mobile phone.

Staying out of trouble

  • Think before you post – once a post is live, it can be difficult to permanently delete it.
  • Before you post, think about the after-effects, such as what might happen and the consequences.
  • Bullying in all forms is never acceptable. The evidence of your bullying won’t necessarily ever go away – it may get passed around and can end up where someone, like a potential employer, will see it in the future.
  • Sharing images that are rude, sexualised (show body parts) and offensive can result in serious consequences, particularly if they clash with the law.
Read More →

Whoops – looks like you’ve sent an offensive image!

Here’s some information that will help you get back on the right track.

What is sexting?

  • Sexting is the sending and receiving of sexually explicit photos or videos. Even if you and your friends want to share these types of photos or videos with each other, it is still against the law.
  • Sexually explicit photos and videos shared without the other person’s knowledge or consent is also considered sexting – and is also against the law.
  • Sexting is even more serious if you are under 18 years of age. It is against the law to send or receive an image or video that involves nudity or even partial nudity of someone under 18.
  • Think about your reputation – what would a family member or your teacher think?
  • Be considerate – treat others the way you would like to be treated.
  • Sexting can leave you vulnerable to cyberbullying.
  • If you’ve posted or seen something inappropriate, talk about it with a trusted adult, such as your mum or dad, a family member, a friend or a teacher.

What information should be kept private?

  • Your full name (first, middle and last) – instead use only your first name or an alternate spelling.
  • Your date of birth.
  • Your address.
  • Your phone number. Never share your parents’ phone numbers either, even if something pops up on the screen telling you that you’ve won something.
  • Where you go to school. Remember, when you share photos, people will know what you look like. If you also tell them what school you go to or post photos of you in your uniform, it’s very easy for them to find you.
  • Your location. While it can be fun to check in to places, you’re then letting people – including strangers – know where you are. It’s also not a good idea to check in when you’re away on holiday, because then you’ve basically told people nobody is home at your place. Think about what information you’ll be giving people before checking in.
  • What sport you play, as well as where you play and what time you play. Again, if you’re sharing photos of yourself, others will know what you look like, so they can go to your football, netball or soccer game and find you. It is also easy to find your sporting draw on the internet, which is why you shouldn’t reveal the name of your team. This is also true for other regular activities you may have, such as Scouts or dance.
  • Think about your profile picture. Information doesn’t just come from words, it also comes from the pictures you share. Therefore, having an image of a landscape, animal or character may be a good choice for a profile picture. Remember that in many cases your profile picture is never private.
  • Passwords. Keeping your password private is very important. Change it regularly and make it hard to guess by using capital letters, numbers and symbols.
  • Relationships you have with others online. Often, when sent a request, if we are unsure of who the person is, we look at their profile to see if they are friends with someone we know. If you accept their request without really knowing who they are, they will have access to all of your information. If your friend also gets a request and sees you are ‘friends’ with them, they are likely to accept it even though neither of you actually know the person. So always check there is a real relationship first.
  • Consider what constitutes ‘private’ information. This could be any details you wouldn’t want to share with people you don’t know well or at all, such as secrets, confessions and embarrassing content.

How can I protect my security?

  • Keep your mobile phone locked (and the passcode or password safe and private) so others can’t grab it, unlock it and use it when you’re not looking.
  • Only give your phone number to people you know for sure you can trust.
  • Use secure web browsers with ‘https’ at the start of the URL.

Don’t forget the location settings!

  • Many social networks, like Facebook and Twitter, allow you to check in each time you tweet or post an update. It might seem like fun for your friends to know where you are, but it can mean that people you don’t know can also see where you are, especially if your profile isn’t private.
  • To turn off your location settings on Twitter, click on your profile picture at the top right-hand side, scroll down to ‘Settings and privacy’, then to ‘Privacy and safety’ on the left-hand side, then untick the checkbox that says ‘Tweet with a location’. You can also press the button that says ‘Delete location information’, to clear information about where you’ve been in the past. You can also turn your location off on your actual mobile phone.

Staying out of trouble

  • Think before you post – once a post is live, it can be difficult to permanently delete it.
  • Before you post, think about the after-effects, such as what might happen and the consequences.
  • Bullying in all forms is never acceptable.
  • Sharing images that are rude, sexualised (show body parts) and offensive can result in serious consequences, particularly if they clash with the law.

Read More →

Download PDF

Interrelate expands footprint, offering anti-bullying education in schools across the country

Interrelate, a NSW-based relationship services organisation, is making its suite of anti-bullying education programs available across the country, following accreditation by the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner.


Schools in all states (except Victoria) may be eligible to receive funds to run the programs, if they meet the criteria and application process.


The programs for primary and high school students cover topics including raising awareness of bullying, cybersafety, risky online behaviour, sexual exploitation and grooming, sexting and pornography.


With studies showing that 1 in 4 students in Australia have reported being bullied, Interrelate CEO Patricia Occelli said she is extremely appreciative of the new process, as it “takes the financial burden away from the schools and lets them get on with the important job of providing anti-bullying education for their students.”


The expansion follows Interrelate’s entrance into the Victorian market, having recently taken on sexuality education provider Family Life Victoria as a subsidiary of Interrelate. Both Family Life Victoria and Interrelate stemmed from the Father and Son Welfare Movement of Australia, which began in 1926, before the states began operating as separate branches.


Interrelate CEO Patricia Occelli said she is excited by the prospect of providing services across Australia again, as the Father and Son Welfare Movement had done when it was first established.


For information on programs available and how to apply for funding to run the programs, contact Interrelate School Services on (02) 8882 7875.


About Interrelate


Interrelate is a not-for-profit provider of relationship services to individuals, couples, families, children, schools and communities across New South Wales.


Interrelate services include:

  • Relationship education
  • Counselling
  • Parenting support
  • Family dispute resolution
  • Children’s contact service
  • Carer support
  • Mental Health support
  • School programs
  • Aboriginal community services
  • Workplace support and training


For more information about Interrelate, please visit www.interrelate.org.au


Media contact

Frances Phipps
Interrelate Media & Communications Officer
02 8882 7860
media@interrelate.org.au

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Free counselling sessions for family carers

Next week is National Carers Week, a time to educate and raise awareness about the diversity of carers and the importance of their caring roles. Interrelate provides carers with free counselling sessions to support them in their role.


In Australia there are 2.8 million unpaid carers, with 857,200 just in NSW. Carers make an enormous contribution to the community as well as the national economy. If all carers decided to stop performing their role, it would cost the nation $60.3 billion per year to replace those supports.

Interrelate CEO, Patricia Occelli said, “National Carers Week is about acknowledging and celebrating the unique and essential contribution unpaid carers make to our community.”

“Being a carer can be a rewarding but sometimes challenging experience. Anyone can become a carer and at any time, so it’s important that we as a community do what we can to support the important and sometimes undervalued role they perform,” she said.

“It’s not just the physical and financial responsibilities that can sometimes be demanding, but the emotional impacts as well. Often the support provided by carers can be underestimated, even by family and friends. Our program is able to support carers to remain strong and to ensure that they look after themselves, as well as the person they care for,” added Ms Occelli.

Interrelate provides up to six free specialised counselling sessions for full-time carers who have a dependent child or adult with a disability, mental illness, chronic condition or terminal illness. The counselling can assist with:

  • emotional support
  • skills and strategies to deal with challenges
  • bereavement and loss
  • helping people to cope with change
  • helping families to develop plans for caring arrangements

This year, Interrelate celebrates 90 years of delivering relationship education and services to individuals, couples, families, children and schools across NSW. If you are, or know a carer who could benefit from talking to someone, call Interrelate on 1300 i relate (1300 473 528) or visit www.interrelate.org.au for more information.

Read More →
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Tips for better understanding mental health

Interrelate is encouraging people to learn more about mental health this month to allow them to be more aware of their own mental state and the wellbeing of others. October is recognised as Mental Health Month in NSW, with this year’s theme of ‘Learn and Grow’ encouraging everyone, whether they have experienced mental illness or not, to learn and understand the importance of looking after their mental health and wellbeing.

“One in five Australians are affected by mental illness each year with almost half (45%) of all Australians experiencing a mental illness in their lifetime” said Interrelate CEO, Patricia Occelli.

“We believe that the more people understand mental health the less stigma there will be attached to seeking help when it is needed” added Ms Occelli.

Mental health FAQs

  1. What is mental health?

The state of wellbeing in which a person can cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively and contribute to their community.

  1. What causes mental illness?

Mental illness results from complex interactions between the mind, body and environment. Contributing factors can include stress, genetics, chemistry, hormones, use of alcohol, drugs and other substances, cognitive thought patterns, isolation, financial problems, family breakdown or violence.

  1. How can I improve my own mental health?

Just like with your physical health, there are steps you can take to improve your mental health. The factors that contribute to mental illness can be minimised by a strong and supportive community environment and living a healthy lifestyle. Try our top 5 tips for improving your mental health.


Interrelate’s tips for improving mental health

  1. Exercise regularly
  2. Talk about or express your feelings –share the challenges that you are facing and celebrate your successes with a trusted friend
  3. Get involved with one of your passions
  4. When you are stressed – stop, breathe deeply and slowly and have a mindful moment – if needed, share your concerns with a friend
  5. Set realistic goals

“Growing our own capabilities can also help to ensure we are resilient and better able to cope with life’s challenges. Talking to a counsellor or attending one of our education programs can help you learn new skills to help cope when things feel out of balance, which can lead to improved mental wellbeing” Ms Occelli added.


Personal Helpers and Mentors

In addition to counselling and group programs, Interrelate currently operates a free mental health outreach program in Ballina, Richmond Valley and Kyogle for people aged 16 years and over whose lives are affected by mental illness. The Personal Helpers and Mentors program supports people experiencing the effects of mental illness by assisting them in their own recovery and in reconnecting with their local community. For more information on this service, contact Fleur on 1300 130 966.


Family Mental Health Support Services

Interrelate also operates a free mental health service ‘Connect’ for families in Wyong, Lake Macquarie, Kempsey, Coffs Harbour, Bourke, Cobar and Coonamble where there is a young person who is at risk of poor mental health outcomes. The Connect program can help families with ideas and support, access to groups and courses to enhance their skills, liaising with schools and connecting them with their community and other appropriate services. For more information on this service call 1300 654 269.

This year, Interrelate celebrates 90 years of delivering relationship education and services to individuals, couples, families, children and schools across NSW. If you would like more information about Interrelate’s services and programs or need support, please call 1300 i relate (1300 473 528) or visit www.interrelate.org.au.


Media contact

Frances Phipps
Media & Communications Officer
02 8882 7839
francesp@interrelate.org.au

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You could save a life this week simply by talking to someone

This week we mark World Suicide Prevention Day on Saturday, 10 September, acknowledging this years’ theme of ‘Connect, communicate, care.’ These three words are at the heart of suicide prevention and complement the efforts of R U OK? Day on Thursday, 8 September which raises public awareness about the importance of having a conversation and, most importantly, when and how to do it.

In Australia, suicide is the leading cause of death for those aged between 15 and 44 years of age, with men being four times more likely to die from suicide than women. Around 2,500 Australians take their own life each year, while a further 65,000 plan or attempt to take their own life.

“The statistics are alarming,” said Interrelate CEO Patricia Occelli. “As a society, we need to help break down the barriers and stigma associated with talking about our mental health and suicide. Those who are suffering need to know that they are not alone and that there is help available,” she said.

Client story

We recently had a client reach out to us seeking counselling for himself to address problems in his relationship. His partner had given encouragement to seek help for the sake of their relationship. At his first session we learnt that he was about to lose his business, was facing bankruptcy, had history of depression and had been diagnosed with diabetes as a child. His father had left when he was 10 years old and he had cared for his diabetic mother up until her death when he was 14 years old, when he then went to live with his grandparents. His father had been physically and emotionally abusive and then had rejected him.

Throughout his counselling sessions it became apparent that early childhood trauma and grief affected his current relationship. The counselling journey supported him to be able to nurture himself and attend to his own needs, which he had never done in his life. On his last visit he stated that his relationship was better and there were less arguments and resentment. He said he felt better about his life and had hope again.

His last comment was “I wouldn’t have come here if I had to pay, I was broke and embarrassed. You guys saved my life. I did have a plan; I even knew the tree that I was going to ride my bike into.”

“If this man’s partner hadn’t encouraged him to seek help when she did, this story might have been far more tragic. R U OK? Day encourages us to really be aware when we ask a family member or friend if they are ok. It recognises that starting a conversation could change a life. Our lives are often complex and stressful and it is not always possible to solve our problems by ourselves.” Ms Occelli said.

This year, Interrelate celebrates 90 years of delivering relationship education and services to individuals, couples, families, children and schools across NSW. This includes seeing almost 5,000 clients a year in its counselling service and offering specialised mental health support through the Personal Helpers and Mentors Service, the Family Mental Health Support Service (Connect) and the Royal Commission Community Based Support Service for victims of institutional abuse.

If you would like more information about Interrelate’s services and programs or need support, please call 1300 i relate (1300 473 528) or visit www.interrelate.org.au.

If you are in immediate crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or if your life is in danger, call 000.

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This week is National Child Protection Week, a reminder to all Australians to play their part to promote the safety and wellbeing of children and young people.

This year’s theme ‘Stronger Communities, Safer Children’ emphasises the importance and value of connected communities in keeping children and young people safe and well. Interrelate has been delivering quality relationship services and education to individuals, couples, families, children, schools and communities for 90 years. We are strengths-based and child focused in our approach and specialise in supporting parents and children to strengthen their relationships.


Our child focused services include:

• Children’s contact services
• Counselling
• Family dispute resolution
• Family mental health support services
• Parenting support programs
• Relationship education
• School based programs


We believe that early intervention and education is key to keeping children safe and deliver our school based programs covering bullying, cyber-safety, sexuality, puberty and healthy relationships to over 40,000 children and families each year.

Children need to understand the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships, their right to be safe, the impact of their relationship choices on others and where to go if they need support,” said Interrelate CEO, Patricia Occelli.


By teaching children how to be safe in a relationship from a young age we increase their ability to make healthy relationship choices later in life and to be assertive when their relationships are unsafe,” she said.



If you would like more information about Interrelate’s services and programs or need support, please call 1300 i relate (1300 473 528).

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