Students finding a voice continue to spread a possitive message.

River 2 Recovery features on Compass ABC.

As part of Mental Health Week, ABC TV’s Compass program follows an ambitious scheme helping people with mental health issues turn their lives around. This Huckleberry Finn style adventure called River to Recovery, involved participants from Albury Wodonga who spent two years building boats from scratch and then rowing them down the Murray River. The course was designed to develop confidence and trust, but along the way this unlikely group found their river trip was more a journey of self discovery.

ABC TV Sunday 12 October, 2014 6.30pm

Congratulations to Seb, Dave and Maz.   All three and other stars featured in the ABC Mental As…………., Mental health week programme. A great deal of effort and personal time was committed to assisting the ABC compass team to produce a mental health week story. It was largely filmed last June and was produced a bit like a re-enactment of the R2R trip. Thanks must go to the Hawksview cattle property management for providing a ‘River like’ setting for the re-enactment. The boats, past and present students, and St Luke’s staff were featured within an idyllic setting and the film emphasised  ‘the healing effects’ of the river environment.

What happens in the future will be up to the R2R crew and St Lukes. The outcomes have been very positive regarding students assisting in the mental health field via mentoring and actual employment. Some have returned to TAFE this year and all have gained confidence and are engaged in meaningful activity.

This year we are coming close to completing a training partnership with Albury Wodonga Parklands and a small group of students completing Certificate one in Work Education. Next year we will continue with our REAL Options units in Work Education for students with mental health issues.

After 12 years of developing this unique form of vocational training for students with mental health issues it has been pleasing to see our students from this R2R course gain national recognition via the Compass programme and for one of our courses for students with mental health issues gain some brief time on the national stage.

At Wodonga TAFE we value our partnerships with community support groups such as St Luke’s and fully expect continued co-operation and support in training programmes in the future to assist individuals with mental health issues ‘find their voice’ , confidence and re-engage in the activities of life that are often taken for granted by others.

Bryan Winnett.

Teacher Foundation Studies Dept. Wodonga TAFE.