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HVO grant helps train more Singleton mental health first-aiders


More Singleton residents have become mental health first-aiders thanks to funding through Hunter Valley Operations’ (HVO) community grants program.

Due to the assistance, Novaskill Hunter Valley was able to provide 18 free places for its Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) courses this year.

“MHFA training gives people practical skills to be able to support someone with a mental health problem, or worsening of a mental health problem,” manager Kelly Cooper said.

“It includes recognising common mental health problems in others, knowing how to respond and safely provide initial help, as well as knowing how to and where to seek appropriate, professional help.”

About one-in-five Australian adults experience a common mental illness each year.

Ms Cooper said the HVO-funded free places were taken up by Singleton locals including volunteers at the Singleton Neighbourhood Centre, as well as those working in disability support organisations, sporting groups and high schools.

Courses occurred in June and August, with another coming up on 26 and 27 October.

Singleton-based Novaskill Hunter Valley is the only local training provider to offer MHFA training.

“We are very appreciative of HVO’s support, which has helped us train people who’ll really benefit from it but may not have had the capacity to fund a place,” Ms Cooper said.

“Our initial goal is to train 100 locals.

“If those people share their skills with, or help, five people then 500 benefit.

“The feedback from participants about the value of the training to date has been fantastic.

“They’ve said they will use the tools we share in the course daily in their work and community roles and with family and friends.

“One participant added: ‘I have already put the knowledge gained into action over the past few days during work. I feel very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to attend and complete my mental health first aid thanks to Hunter Valley Operations’.”

If those people share their skills with, or help, five people then 500 benefit.

Kelly Cooper

While free funded places have been allocated, Ms Cooper said there were limited spots remaining in the course on 26 and 27 October.

All MHFA courses are run over two consecutive days and cost $312 per person.

Discounts may be eligible for group bookings.

Contact Novaskill Hunter Valley at 6575 3700 or email [email protected] for more information and to register your interest.

Applications are now open for HVO’s second round of funding.

Environment and community manager Andrew Speechly said the mine’s grants were awarded twice a year to smaller scale projects of not-for-profit organisations working in the Muswellbrook, Singleton, Cessnock, Maitland or Upper Hunter LGAs.

“We look to fund projects that make our community stronger, improve the skills or lives of local people or protect and enhance the environment,” he explained.

“Funding mental health training helps to build capacity to make our community more resilient.”

More than 90 projects have received in excess of $380,000 in HVO grant funding since 2018.

This is in addition to its other charity partnerships, sponsorships and workplace giving programs.

To find out more or to apply for a HVO community grant, visit www.hvo.com.au/community or email [email protected].

Applications close 30 September.

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