Building Capacity in Community Mental Health Family Support and Carer Respite Project

Start - May -2008 

Completion - May 2010

The aim of this project was to assist FaHCSIA to develop and roll out a national carer respite system that meets the needs of mental health consumers and carers. The project was a national project and has adopted a national sector development approach. All state and territory community mental health peaks through Community Mental Health Australia (CMHA) contributed to the work required for this project. Each state and territory peak appointed project coordinators to work locally.

Through a national consultation process FAHCSIA received feedback that existing frameworks of respite care, derived from the aged and disability sector, have limitations in meeting the distinctive needs of consumers and carers supported by the mental health sector. Subsequently, FaHCSIA engaged CMHA and the state peaks to assist it to identify models of respite care in mental health and to assist community organisations to apply for funding under future rounds of the National Respite Development Fund.

The approach supported existing community mental health service infrastructure and offered new opportunities for delivering respite and family care services. Project Coordinators worked with interested local services and existing networks to further develop partnerships and networks, and to support individual services and facilitate the development of consortiums to apply for National Respite Development Funding. 

The outcomes of the project are:

  • The development of new and innovative mental health family care and respite programs across Australia that draw on the lived experience of consumers and carers and which effectively target their diverse and changing needs,
  • The establishment of a national framework to support new service development and respite care coordination through the FaHCSIA National Respite Development Fund,
  • The establishment and support of coordination networks that assist community services to access additional funding through FaHCSIA to support their service development and activities

As a result of this project:

  • 3 partnerships were awarded FaHCSIA funding to provide new carer respite services.
  • Key learnings were presented in unique Partnership Development Labs on 16 October 2009
  • Training material was developed to enhance capacity in the sector for carer respite projects in the future 

The 'Family Support and Carers Respite Project' was funded by the Australian Government under the Mental Health Respite Program.