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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.

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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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Being a parent can sometimes be tough, let alone raising happy and well-adjusted children.

Interrelate’s Head of Research & Service Development and father of six, Matt Stubbs, says it’s important that fathers understand how their behaviour can influence their children and realise that they don’t need to be a full-time dad to be a great father and role model.

It’s the times when you really engage with your children that will have the most influence on their development and help build a solid relationship between you and them. Be aware of your behaviour during these engaged times, because your children will be soaking it in,” said Mr Stubbs.


Here are Interrelate’s top five tips to help dads raise respectful children:

1. Show respect for their mum – even if you’re not together – children need their parents/carers to be respectful of each other. If you are together, make time for your adult relationship – children need to see that their parents’ relationship is important too.

2. Be kind to your children and to others – children learn from how you treat them as well as how you treat other people.

3. Spend “alongside” time – get alongside of your children and do stuff they like to do – making sandcastles, playing videogames, fishing, reading, kicking a ball. This will build bonds of love that challenging times will not be able to break.

4. Build your children up by praising and encouraging; not scolding and discouraging. Focus on the positives in your children – applaud their efforts; help them in the areas that challenge them.

5. Act your age! Let’s face it bringing up children can be tough work sometimes. Remember to breathe deeply and don’t escalate or become irrational. Your child has the right to act like a child; you don’t! Remember that you are older and bigger – so you need to be kinder and wiser.


As we celebrate Father’s Day, let’s not forget that sometimes dads need help too. Australian research has shown that young dads are also vulnerable to postnatal depression and can often find it hard to reach out for help. Interrelate offers male-friendly counselling where dads can get the support they need, talk about their role as a father and learn how to relate more effectively to their children.

Interrelate also runs the Being a Dad program throughout NSW. This program helps fathers gain skills to build closer relationships with their children. Fathers learn how to be a better dad, really connect with their children and how to discipline constructively.

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).

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Students unleash their creativity to tackle cyberbullying in short film competition

Budding student filmmakers saw their films come to life on the big screen on Friday night when the finalists of Interrelate’s NSW Film Festival for High Schools were screened at the Australian Film Television and Radio School in Sydney.


The competition was a partnership between Interrelate and the Office of the Children’s e-Safety Commissioner and was open to all NSW high school students. The films centred around the theme ‘Cyberbullying – the effect and how we solve it’ and were filmed by groups of students, with the footage professionally edited by competition sponsor Filmpond.


Zane Voloshin and Jack Mane from Emanuel School took out the top prize, winning $1,000 for their school. Their film b.u.!.!.y was chosen for “its creativity in showcasing how a victim can build inner strength and resilience to cope with cyberbullying.”


The seven finalist schools were:

  • Merrylands High
  • Wenona School
  • Bowraville Central School
  • Fairfield High School
  • The Canobolas Rural Technology High School
  • Emanuel School
  • Gosford High School

All finalists were given the opportunity to take part in a Burn Bright leadership workshop and a Q and A session with industry experts before the Awards Ceremony.

“The statistics around online bullying continue to be frightening. One in five Australians aged 8-17 experiences cyberbullying each year and even more concerning, is that Australia has been ranked No.1 in the world for bullying on social networks,” said Interrelate CEO, Patricia Occelli.

“We believe that the answer to addressing this social issue lies in engaging young people to identify the solutions,” she said.

“From its earliest beginnings, film has been a powerful storytelling medium that has influenced society. By utilising today’s social media platforms, these students’ stories and ideas have the potential to reach and influence thousands of young people across Australia and the world,” she said.


An online poll has now opened to find the People’s Choice vote of the finalists via Interrelate’s Facebook page. To watch the films and cast your vote, head to www.facebook.com/Interrelate before the poll closes on Monday, 29 August. The winner will be announced on Tuesday, 30 August.


The film competition coincides with Interrelate’s launch of relationship education programs for high school students and their families:

  • Cybersafe Teens (for Years 7-8)
  • Talking Relationships (for Years 7-8 mainstream and special needs programs) and
  • Bullying Awareness Webinars for Parents and Carers

Interrelate is also launching I relate. SAFE, an innovative, educational, safeguard platform that protects young people by providing them with the tools to engage with social media in a safe and positive way. The platform has been created in partnership with Kudos Knowledge and is currently available for schools from just $3 per student, per month. I relate. SAFE. can help by providing a framework to promote responsible and ethical social media use and build an anti-cyberbullying culture through on-going support and education. For more information call Sharon on 02 8882 7838.


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.

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Interrelate launches new Reconciliation Action Plan to close the gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people

Next Tuesday Interrelate will launch its new Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan to guide its work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, families and communities until 2018.

“Reconciliation is a process, and supporting reconciliation means working to overcome the gap that still exists between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people,” said Interrelate CEO Patricia Occelli.

Interrelate’s plan has been endorsed by Reconciliation Australia and will help guide its vision.

“Our vision for reconciliation includes ensuring that all of our services can enhance the wellbeing, safety and resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, families and communities. Our programs are flexible and can help with connecting to culture, parenting, mental wellbeing and making healthy decisions. Our Reconciliation Action Plan keeps us on track with this and guides us in making our vision a reality.”

Interrelate has a large offering of services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with dedicated Aboriginal advisors and community development workers who engage with the local communities to deliver culturally appropriate programs.


Research shows that engaging in, and sharing traditional culture helps Aboriginal people to close the gap in disadvantage and contributes to building stronger families and communities. Participation in cultural activities builds human and social capital, fosters cultural leadership and reduces isolation.


Interrelate is dedicated to ensuring relationships flourish by constantly consulting and collaborating with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and community to renew and refresh programs in order to ensure continuous improvement of Interrelate’s programs. Interrelate has an internal Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander reference group called Kutanya which supports delivery of these services and Interrelate’s staff. To learn more about Kutanya please watch our video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qgzjhzt9N4A&feature=youtu.be


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.

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