TODAY in a special online ceremony, the Upper Hunter was awarded the New South Wales Mental Health Matters Community Initiative Award, for innovative actions made through the Where There’s A Will Foundation (WTAW).
The award recognises an organisation working towards improving the mental health of marginalised communities and facilitating access to information and services.
WTAW nominated the Upper Hunter community in July and were one of two finalists alongside NSW State Emergency Service (SES).
Pauline Carrigan, WTAW founder said she cried when she saw the Upper Hunter had won and is bursting with pride for her community.
“Four years ago I had a need to change something and this community could have just walked away, but they didn’t and they backed the idea and I am just so proud of them for trusting us,” Ms Carrigan said.
“We acted more like a conduit for this award,” she said.
“We have 700 teachers and 37 school institutions, all of us on the same team…people are getting active tools to deal with mental health and a new way to live,” she said.
“We haven’t got CEO’s and endless money, so it’s pretty exciting to win this award, I’m pretty chuffed,” said Ms Carrigan.
Back in 2016, ideas for WTAW kicked off when 120 people representing eleven communities attended an appreciative inquiry meeting at Muswellbrook school.
“We worked all weekend to put together a plan of where we were heading and now four years later we’ve been happily announced as the NSW community who are working the best,” Ms Carrigan said.
“Positive education is a hard sell for prevention because positive psychology is such a new well-being science and we don’t fit into many doors,” she said.
“So having this [award] and being recognised, we’re hoping it’s going to open up doors for not only us, but other communities as they start now,” she said.
“We’re all very grateful for this recognition and congratulate all those other organisations and individuals who were part of today’s award, together we’re all chipping away and making a difference,” said Mr Carrigan.