Thanks to your support this year, cohealth has been able to continue our mission to improve health and wellbeing for all and tackle inequality, in partnership with people and the communities they live in.
In 2023, we provided over 1 million high-quality health, wellbeing, and social support occasions of service to communities in need, through 45 different programs, in 110 languages, at 34 locations, and working with clients from over 160 cultural backgrounds.
This year also saw cohealth become a national organisation with the addition of two new locations in Tasmania, in addition to our 32 locations across Victoria. We are enthusiastic about introducing the cohealth community health model to ensure residents in these rural areas have access to timely health services that best meets their needs.
In Brimbank, Victoria we opened the doors to the state’s first Mental Health & Wellbeing Local, where people can access vital mental health support delivered by a team of 30 clinical and lived experience workers.
One client who engaged with our mental health services told us: “this is the first time someone has listened to me in my life – I felt heard, understood, and not judged”.
The team at Brimbank Mental Health & Wellbeing Local also won WorkSafe’s ‘Best Solution of a Work Health & Safety Risk’ award at the National Safety Awards in September 2023, recognizing their exceptional efforts in identifying and implementing a strategy to create a safe and healthy work environment for staff.
In addition to this new service, our Early Intervention Psychosocial Support Response, Commonwealth Psychosocial Support, and Youth Outreach Recovery Support programs each secured two-year extensions, with our Youth mental health team also winning the 2023 Australian Pride in Health & Wellbeing Award for Gold Tier Service Provider of the Year.
We recently launched the Public Intoxication Response Service after a successful 12-month trial in Fitzroy. The service will work to ensure that people in the community who are publicly intoxicated can receive the support and care they need. It comprises of street-based outreach teams, transportation services, and a 20-bed support centre in Collingwood.
We also established a community-based addiction medicine service (pharmacotherapy) at Innerspace, and reopened drop-in spaces there and at Healthworks, which are serving an average of 80 clients per day.
Embodying our standards for high-quality, evidence-based, and person-centered services, our AOD Treatment Services team recently began providing Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, which supports individuals to heal from distress caused by traumatic experiences. This will help us support individuals throughout their journey toward healing, recovery, and improved overall well-being.
Our work in Homelessness continued with the establishment of the Buckley Street Supportive Accommodation Program, which is housing more than 50 people with complex health and social issues. Our Make Room Project in the City of Melbourne is also in its final stage of planning, which will provide transitional housing for 55 rough sleepers.
As part of our commitment to providing comprehensive and accessible services, we opened two new allied health services at Glenroy and Flemington, expanding the availability of services in these areas. These services are a key component of our Healthy Aging team’s work in improving the well-being and quality of life for older individuals.
Our Healthy Aging team also forged partnerships across housing estates and Older Persons High Rise (OPHR) buildings in order to enhance social connections and combat social isolation. We’ve also worked to improve the accessibility and efficiency of our services for allied health clients and older individuals, so they can access the care they need in a timely manner.
Hundreds of cohealth team members this year had the privilege of attending cultural safety training provided by our Yakeen Tharn Aboriginal Health team, who launched the program on January 26th. The full-day training aims to strengthen engagement with First Nations clients.
The team was also crucial to our advocacy throughout the Voice to Parliament referendum campaign, which was an opportunity for truth-telling, treaties, health equity, and reconciliation. Despite the outcome, these all continue in our commitment to advocating for social and health policies that reflect the needs and experiences of the community.
In 2023, cohealth made ten submissions to state and federal inquiries and policy reviews to influence national policy and address the social determinants of health, such as mental health, social services, homelessness, drug law reform, autism support, and sexual harassment. These submissions demonstrate our dedication to advocating for social and health policies that meet the needs and experiences of our clients and their communities, promoting equity, inclusivity, and social justice.
Our advocacy also extended to partnering with community and creating employment opportunities for individuals with lived experience and peer workers in our services. Lived experience workers play a critical role in bridging the gap between service providers and clients. They offer support, understanding, and advocacy based on their own experiences. These team members help us ensure that our services are person-centered, culturally sensitive, and reflective of the diverse needs and experiences of our clients while helping deliver transformative services.
A client, who after 20 years of struggles, said their support from cohealth has “changed their life”. They said, “the support showed me that I wasn’t alone, I now have the tools, courage, and hope to continue on the journey I’ve started for the rest of my life.”
Another client said: “I’m blessed to have been introduced to cohealth. The bad place I was in a year ago compared to where I am today – there’s no comparison.”
These testimonials emphasise the impact our services have had in our client’s lives in 2023. Thank you for your ongoing support and commitment to our mission of improving health outcomes, reducing inequities, and creating a healthier and more inclusive community for us all. We hope you have a safe and restful holiday season and are excited to continue this important work together with you in 2024.
cohealth is a not-for-profit community health organisation. We provide essential health and support services in Melbourne’s CBD, and northern and western suburbs.