Introducing The Outpost

RRMH CEO Joe Hooper
28 Sep 20
by Andy

Introducing The Outpost

I would like to introduce myself: I am Joe Hooper, the new CEO of Rural & Remote Mental Health. I am excited to be leading the organisation as we navigate our way  through these challenging times. I would like to acknowledge the outgoing CEO, Dr Jennifer Bowers, for her commitment in establishing Rural & Remote Mental Health as a leading contributor to mental health literacy and suicide prevention. On behalf of the organisation, I wish her the very best in her well-deserved retirement.

I am delighted to present our first edition of The Outpost. The purpose of this newsletter is to contribute, in our small way, to ensuring rural and remote Aussies feel a sense of belonging and connection to the whole community.

One thing that COVID-19 has brought is a shared experience to all Australians. This is not a local bushfire or drought impacting just some; COVID has impacted on all our lives. While we must physically isolate, social cohesion and feeling connected to others has never been more important.

Our motto is to leave no community behind. You are not alone and we wish to help you connect through this platform. We intend to support people and communities by bringing attention to any issues that impact on mental wellbeing in rural and remote Australia. I encourage you to share your stories and any coping strategies so others can learn from your experience – your contribution can be anonymous if you choose.

Suicide rates are significantly higher in rural and remote areas, yet these communities access professional health services the least. And, while Australia has recorded more than 870 deaths due to COVID-19, we also recorded over 1700 cases of suicide since January 2020. This figure is predicted to rise in coming months as a result of increased unemployment, stimulus reductions and other social factors. Our goal is to continue doing everything in our power to assist rural Australians and reduce those statistics.

Our core mission is to provide mental health awareness and suicide prevention training directly to rural and remote communities. While we have been hampered by necessary restrictions on travel to remote communities and interstate, our work is more important now than at any other time in our 12-year history. Our managers have been working hard on solutions, including trialling online presentations where appropriate. We will continue to visit communities who invite us where it is feasible to do so.

We were very disappointed to receive an impersonal email from the Federal Government advising us our funding would not continue beyond June 2020. We understand the need to fund increased acute services – but prevention, early intervention and trauma support must be part of the mental health response. Grassroots charities such as ours deliver vital, and often unique, services and need to continue. We are finalising our submission to the Commonwealth Government asking them to reconsider this decision and will keep you posted. Meanwhile, we will be using the generous support we receive from our corporate friends and others to keep delivering our programs.

Finally, I would like to thank our staff for all their perseverance over these months. Together we will get there.

I hope you enjoy reading The Outpost. Your feedback is more than welcome, either in person or via email at outpost@rrmh.com.au. We look forward to hearing about and sharing your experiences.

Take care, stay safe and remember we must all support each other. No community should be left behind.

Joe Hooper signature

– Joe Hooper