Building Connections in Remote New South Wales

The 2018 International Mental Health Conference is almost upon us again, this year the conference will be held over the 8th – 10th August at the RACV Royal Pines on the Gold Coast, Queensland.

This annual conference is now in its 19th year and continues to be the pinnacle event in the mental health industry. The Conference provides an invaluable opportunity to build relationships and to share knowledge, research and latest policies.

Mr Luke Butcher, Area Manager at Mission Australia joins us at the conference to discuss ‘Building Connections in Remote New South Wales’.

Luke Butcher


No man is an island entire of itself/every man is a piece of a continent/a part of the main. Approximately 50% of people with a severe mental illness describe problems with loneliness (Perese & Wolfe, 2005). It is also known that loneliness and social isolation have a significant impact on mental health and physical wellbeing (Meadows, Singh & Grigg, 2007). For consumers of mental ill health, the effects of loneliness and isolation can be magnified after services close, with these individuals often presenting to Emergency Departments or crisis services.

This presentation describes an innovative partnership program between the Far West Local Health District, Mission Australia and GROW to address loneliness in Broken Hill. The Connections Program is a unique service staffed exclusively by Peer Workers to build connections between program participants and the broader community. Over six months, the program has been instrumental in reducing the participants inpatient hospital days by 65%; and presentations to emergency departments by 80%. This presentation will discuss the program rationale, shared governance and partnership between consumers, Local Health Districts and the Community Managed Sector, and how Peer Support Workers have been integrated into mainstream services.


Luke has spent the past 12 years working with Mission Australia in Western NSW as an Area Manager, managing a range of mental health recovery programs in rural and remote communities. He has undergraduate qualifications in psychology and a Masters' degree in Forensic Mental Health. Luke's passion is understanding how evidence-based practice is utilized to inform service design in the community managed sector. Recently, he has been working on a project to evaluate the best ways in which to engage people with a lived experience into service delivery with specialist and mainstream services

For further information on the 19th International Mental Health Conference and to secure your spot please visit





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