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Victorians in regional and rural communities have been through a very tough time dealing with bushfires, floods, and the impacts of COVID-19 in the past year. These disasters have affected the mental health of many Victorians.
To help Victorians deal with the stress of these disasters, the State Trustees Australia Foundation has awarded funding to Phoenix Australia to expand the successful SOLAR Program in disaster affected regional and rural communities in Victoria.
The Skills for Life Adjustment and Resilience (SOLAR) Program is a skills-based program that has been proven to improve community mental health and wellbeing following disaster. Importantly the SOLAR program can be delivered by trained local and community leaders and health care workers who best understand what each community is going through.
“Our research tells us that when we can deliver early intervention programs to communities after a disaster, we can promote recovery and prevent long term mental health problems,” Professor Meaghan O’Donnell said.
“We’re incredibly grateful to the State Trustees Australia Foundation for this grant. It means that we can expand the SOLAR program and work directly with disaster impacted communities to train more SOLAR Coaches to deliver this resilience building program. Importantly it will allow more people who are struggling to cope after these disasters to participate in the SOLAR program.”
In partnership with the Mental Health Professionals’ Network (MHPN), engagement of SOLAR Coaches has commenced, with many practitioners and community members already participating in training.
“In training as a SOLAR Coach, I have an avenue to make a real difference in the lives of those who are doing it tough in my broader community,” Angela McCann-Bateman, SOLAR Coach from Gippsland Region said. “It’s been wonderful to see how much of a positive difference this program has already made in the lives of participants.”