In this week’s episode, Josh is talking to Renee Knapp who was a Finalist in the 2019 Western Australian Regional Achievement and Community Awards.
“My name is Renee Knapp and I am an independent consultant working with people to make effective change through positive action in the areas of student behaviour, mental health and wellbeing and community approaches to mental health. I have over 20 years experience in Education as a Level 3 Classroom Teacher and as a Deputy Principal. I was one of 3 finalists in the 2019 Regional Community & Achievement Awards: Curtin Teacher Excellence Award and one of 4 finalists in the 2019 WA Premier’s Primary Teacher of the Year Award.
I am also the Chair and co-founder of a Community Based Mental Health Action Team and have recently been announced as a finalist in the WA Spirit of Volunteering awards.
I am a strong advocate for utilising a community approach to mental health by working collaboratively across government and private sectors to make real change happen for both our youth and the wider community. I have recently worked with the WA Mental Health Commission to write a Community Wellbeing Plan that is currently being shared with other communities in the area as a model of success. I have also presented this model across various platforms including the 2021 Mental Health Services Conference and the 2020 Australian & Rural Mental Health Symposium. For too long, education, health and law enforcement have worked in isolation when managing mental health issues. Yet each of these sectors play a preventative, intervention or supportive role in communities when it comes to mental health.
I have seen the significant benefits of a community model at an educational level as it allows schools to look beyond their school walls and make change happen by utilising protective strategies, support services and opportunities for belonging and connection in the wider community. This community model for mental health improvement, can not only benefit the youth, but also allows for targeted planning and improvements in mental health across the whole community. I now use my Think Effective consultancy business to help schools, individuals and groups to create effective improvement in their unique setting through community mental health approaches or school wide behaviour or mental health initiatives.”
In this episode:
- We hear how Renee is so passionate about bringing her community together to make a difference, with her mental health programs
- Renee’s Community Wellbeing plan, shows groups how to use their passion, create action plans and checklists and helping them make it happen
- We learn that there are lots of free resources on Renee’s website. See below for the links to the website
Renee’s website, www.thinkeffective.com.au is a fountain of information and resources
Want to contact Renee for a chat to see how she can help? Click here
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00:00:04 Unknown :
Welcome to the inspirational Australian’s podcast, where we chat to people making a difference in their communities and in the lives of others. And here is your host for today, Josh Griffin Thanks so much, Annette. Thanks for that lovely introduction as always, and I want to throw to you, but I can’t because you’re not here. So I’m just letting everyone know the behind the scenes that magic has been disrupted. Annette’s not here today, but I am joined by the wonderful Rene Knapp who i’ll introduce very shortly. But first a quick favor. I do have to ask everyone. Have you rated and reviewed the podcast yet? I’m guessing no, because most people don’t, myself included. I had so many podcasts that are on my favorite list that I haven’t rated and reviewed. And so lately i’ve been writing that wrong because I’m asking you guys to do it. So why shouldn’t i? So jump on. Only takes a few minutes. If you’re not sure how to do it, then Annette’s put a really handy little guide up and awardsaustralia.com/podcast. Check that out ratet and review the podcast because it helps us get it out to more people . At the end of the day, this podcast is about sharing the stories of inspirational people and speaking of for this week’s dose of inspiration, we are joined by Renee, as I mentioned, who is an outstanding educator and an advocate for positive mental health. Renee’s been a classroom teacher for over 20 years, and on top of that, she’s a musician. She teaches music and she’s very involved with the community. In fact, she set up the community mental health action team, which has been integral in supporting the work done at the school level with her school, then Boyup Brook. And it’s been a real journey that’s led to Renee starting her consultancy as well, which will cover up shortly. And I also developed a sustainable and widely recognised music program at the high school called Music Rock Band program. And Renee was a finalist in the Curtin University School of Education Teaching Excellence Award in 2019. Welcome, Renee, how are you this morning? Yeah, very well. Thank you. Thanks for having me. Yeah, absolute pleasure. So you’re in Boyup Brook, and for those who don’t know, can you explain where that is and a little bit about that, that town and that region? Sure, so Boyup Brook is in rural Western Australia. We’re about three hours south of Perth, but inland, in a farming community. So very much a sheep and cropping farming community. Westbrooks a beautiful little town, it’s kind of off the beaten track, but it’s got a great community feel and a very passionate music town and, and I was actually born here many, many, many, many years ago. But only lived here till I was two. But I’ve ended up back on a farm when I married a farmer so feeling very spoilt, although it is a little bit crazy when people tell me they saw me when I was born. Especially because you weren’t here for long and then you Oh no, no. And then you were back. So can I ask, how did you make your way back with something that you’d wanted to do to return to your roots? No, I it was very much love. I met my husband in my late teens and we’ve been together a long time. So I got my first teaching post up in South Hedland, which is right in the north of Western Australia, sort of six hours south of Broome. And I took him up there and we stayed up there for about five years, which was amazing, challenging, but amazing. teaching. Really gave me my grounding in teaching. And then we sort of progressed our way down to Perth and then always knew we’d end up on the farm. And once we’ve sort of been in Perth for a little while, we moved down to Boyup. And then I was lucky enough had three gorgeous boys and have since been living and very much embedded in motorbikes and dirt and everything you could imagine in between with boys and living on a farm. Yeah, so, so three boys that would be getting used to, did you have brothers growing up or was it kind of something new? I had one younger brother, but to be honest, I think having three boys has been wonderful. I think as a mother, you know, I like the idea of having both, you know, both boys and Girls, but I just think it’s the most wonderful thing for my boys that they have each other and I’ve become a real mum of boys. I love, you know, it’s made, it made me live an adventurous life. I think we took our boys travelling and you really geared up around the things I like, which is a lot of adrenaline. So I’ve learnt to love all those sorts of things as well. For sure, and with a born and kind of grown up in Boyup Brook or would they have grown up and moved around now? So we, when I first moved down to Boyup was originally at Kojonup and yeah, probably there a year and then had my first boy and then they’ve all grown up at Boyup and they’ve been such a part of the mental health work that I’ve done. And I’ve been part of this incredible musical town because as much as I say, I was a music teacher, it was just one part of it. There was an amazing rock band music program at our school. And yeah, my, my eldest is now 16 and my youngest is 12, and it’s, it’s really great to see the benefits they’ve had from living in a small community and all that it can bring, which I think it’s pretty, pretty awesome. Yes, we’re speaking of music. One thing I had heard actually I knew that about Boyup Brook, that was music town because there’s a big music festival. Was that right? That it is a country music festival, ironically, i’m not remotely country But it’s a really good association. And I think as well as the country music part, we’ve had this incredible rock band music program that’s existed where I actually met my husband when he was performing in a musical. He would be devastated that I’m telling people that but not particularly a show person when it comes to music, but there’s always been this tradition in Boyup around music. And my boys have been very, very fortunate that we’ve had, we had an incredible musician, John Roberts, who unfortunately is no longer with us. But he taught all of my boys their music and got me up and performing in a band for the first time in my musical career, and just really brought to life the music that exists in Boyup. And I think that’s been amazing. And I think there’s a, you know, as someone who has had to look for an educational program for my eldest, there’s not a lot of it around. There’s a lot of classical music, so it’s really exciting to be part of something that’s quite grassroots in singer songwriting and playing live and it’s, it’s pretty awesome. Yep. And now, am I correct in saying you played a part in developing that rock band program? Yeah, absolutely. And I’ve come from probably myself a fairly classical music background, but I had been doing the music program at the primary school for quite a long time. But through collaboration with this, the, what was going on at the high school level. I then we sort of work together. I do a lot of vocal stuff. I do a lot of vocal ensemble and choir and I’ve taken groups to a Staffords, i’ve had us engage with the song makers program. I’m not sure if you’ve heard of it, but there’s a program that’s encouraging development of songwriters in Australia and they kind of get 50 schools across Australia each year and we were lucky enough. I submitted a submission and we were lucky enough to get Kav Timperley the lead singer of Eskimo Joe and, and Anna Lavern, and also stuff to Boyup Brook. So that was really, really amazing. So, but I kind of see it as, I mean, Yes. You know, I’ve had a lot, i’ve done a lot to do with it, but I really think the strength of it’s been the collaboration that we’ve done in working together. We, we as a band have then played together a lot of the other teachers. We’ve played together in a band and we will get the kids up to perform at local gigs, so they get that experience of playing in front of other people, which is what music’s all about. That excitement of being in front of a live audience. It’s terrifying, but also all the same time. Well, it’s funny, isn’t that music can bring something in people because you know, you could be the shyest most nervous person in singing playing an instrument, whatever it is, performing in that way can really bring out another side in people and show confidence. Well I think that’s a really relevant point you say, because my eldest is a die hard musician. He’s a songwriter and performer and all this sort of thing. And he himself is very shy and withdrawn, but put a guitar in his hand. Totally different. Yeah, he just comes to life, so it’s amazing the benefits and the just the incredible benefits that music can offer. As far as you know, we’re very spoilt at our school. We’ve got an incredible art program and an incredible, really incredible whole picture. I suppose it is, and I think that’s, you know, that ties in so well with mental health because for so many of us people might not be academic or sporty. But those other avenues might play into their mental health and keeping them healthy and all those sorts of things. Yeah, if this is a generalization, so I guess i’ve got you to ask which is perfect, but seems to me in regional areas, sport is huge for kids growing up in our community. And so it must be good having something like music as an alternative outlet for people. Yeah, look, I think absolutely. It’s interesting because I’m really passionate about the idea of a sense of belonging, connection being a big part of mental health. And which is what led me very much you. It’s been a big part of our community approach to mental health, and I really think sport is sport. As you said, sport is huge in country areas of like I said, I’ve been in the north of WA and sport is massive, but I think there’s so many other areas too. And for everybody, a sense of belonging and connection, it’s not one model fits all. It looks different for everybody, and I think it’s really important to have that breadth of opportunities and to tap into the local experts that you’ve got. You know, one of the things we’re doing is looking at intergenerational things and the wisdom from the, our older generation and the wisdom from people who might be talented in an area you never knew about. And I think we’ve got to get our local areas, whether that’s regional or urban sort of thing. tapping into that because we don’t always have to outsource and expensive far away opportunely. We can actually strengthen what’s in our local environment. Yeah, that’s very true. And I want to circle back to this because I love what you’re talking about and I know that your consultancy, you’re working with community on mental health kind of approaches, approaches to mental health. But before we get to that, I think I just need to ask you about, you know, I know that mental health is a big passion for you. A big focus. Where did that come from? Is that something that was really tied into your teaching? And is it a recent thing? Yeah, let us know about some of the background there. Yeah, absolutely. So when I, as I said, I’ve been teaching for over 20 years, is and I probably, in my later I became a level three classroom teacher and had done a lot of work and curriculum. And then as I had children, I became very passionate about both behavior and mental health and wellbeing in schools. And I think that was largely driven. I’d had my own mental health issues and I’d then supported a family member with mental health issues. And it became really apparent, we were in my role as a deputy, we were looking at prioritizing in a school and I just started to say, maybe it’s part of becoming a mom. I think you get that wider breadth of everything that goes on for a child, but I started to see that there’s just so much that is going on. You probably started for me with behavior and starting to look at what was behind the behavior because I’ve had a lot to do with a program called PBS, which is Positive Behavior Support. And I’ve, I’ve done a lot of presenting around that and I’m very passionate about the fact that it’s a process of change as opposed to a program I think is so many programs out there that are fantastic. And we can utilize those. But what’s important is, how do we make those, whether it’s program or whatever it might be, how do we, how do we change the culture in our schools? How do we start looking beyond behavior and seeing what’s really going on for a child? And I think I always remember hearing someone say that when we teach reading in a child makes a mistake we, we teach, but when a child makes a behave and makes a mistake with behavior, we typically punish. And I think that that’s a really critical thing to think about. And what got me very passionate with behaviour, because I started looking at, Well, when can we find the teachable moments to make a difference? And what that led me to is that mental health is such a critical part of that. And I’ve done quite a lot of presenting about how we look at behavior and mental health together because they really, really exist alone. It’s not to say that behaviors are always mental health driven, but I think there’s a large part of it and sorry, just to circle back around again. I guess my part in that mental health came from, as I said, because I’d had my own experiences. It just became, it seemed like why aren’t we in schools considering we teach our kids to eat well to get enough sleep and to exercise, we really should be tapping on looking after our mental health. You know, and I think we talk so often about an early intervention with our students and things like that. And this is something that should become part of what we do and who we are. And so probably about five or six years ago, I actually had spent a lot of time utilizing stuff in schools around kids matters and mind matters which were programs that were being utilized, that I felt really passionate about. And I desperately wanted to form another committee, but being in a small rural town, there’s only so many people to go around. everyone’s so stretched and always putting up their hand and they’re amazing and doing fantastic things. So I sort of, I was at the time I met with a few like minded people in town, our local doctor and a community resource manager and a business woman. And I started to think, why do we have to limit it to just within the school? And I started thinking, if we could look beyond the school walls, we often do like educators just amazing the work they do with students and what they look at and the roles they take as effectively councillor’s these days. Sometimes even though it’s not something that typically we are required to do, and I still see an opportunity to think, why can’t we work on this as a community? So what ensued was, I sort of approach my meds and said, well, what if I took this idea and did it as a community and formed a community mental health action team. So what became was our, what we called our comhat and it just was there’s, I think the reason behind it for me is that there are so many people that are passionate. There’s so many people that are working extremely hard in different sectors. Our health sectors, our counselors, our hospitals, our police, our educators, yet I certainly had never crossed those boundaries and worked with those other sectors as an educator. I’d never work in collaboration. And what I started to say is everybody’s got these incredible strengths. Why can’t we work together to make real localised change happen in our environment to start looking at what the gaps are and how can we fill them to think about will. How can we utilize each other’s strengths? Which in turn minimizes our own stress? Because we’re trying to do everything, and instead we could just be doing what we’re good at and lean on each other to do that. And I think so that effectively is what became our community mental health action team. And I guess my consultancy has grown from that because I now look at, Well, how can I see so many people knowing what it is that they want to achieve? They want to achieve this move away from siloed approaches to mental health and work together. But it’s a little bit light, but how do we do it? Where do we start and my passions come from, both in behavior and mental health looking at the process in order to do that, how can we take it and how can we make sure it’s sustainable? In our pool, volunteers don’t burn out and end up. You know, we don’t want to do this work and we’re, I’m sorry I get carried away and now it’s a passion. But where I get where I get excited is that I think I don’t want to be in a small town. I don’t want to create an initiative or do something, implement change, and then find three or five years down the track. Again and just rejig the wheels, if we’re going to culture of change, whether it be in behavior, whether it be in our community in terms of mental health, let’s do this effectively support the people who are putting their hands up and really think about how change can happen, and so that, that change can apply not only in, in Boyup but so that it can imply in a city area so that it can apply in another rural town. It’s no good for me, in my opinion, having the model that only fits our local scenario, we need something that can then be adapted and used in another area and what we’re finding because in our journey we’ve developed a community, community wellbeing plan. And we’re actually funding a lot of communities now asking to have access to that and utilize it. And because people can see what they want to do, they just don’t know where to start and how to get through those processes and how to manage those things like I want. One thing that I find really important is you don’t want to have a meeting and come away and feel that we haven’t achieved anything because people’s time is so valuable in our busy society. Now that you want to take that passion and the excitement and make sure that something everybody comes away with a sense of achievement or some sense of progress. Yes. So that’s why you get a bad name, isn’t it? Because people tend to think, oh, we’re just going to sit around for an hour, talk, and then we’ll do it again in a week and nothing will have happened, but meeting should be the first time a meeting should be the and I think meetings that I get excited by that really, but I think meetings are of and I and I’m someone who is the chair of this team and my role is actually to be quiet. And that’s, that’s a big achievement for me. Because as you can get an impression, i quite like to talk, but I think, you know, meetings are about getting everybody’s opinion and, and making sure that like we’ve, we have quite a long way down our journey as a community action team. And when we first started, we had an action team of sort of five or six people. And that’s now become a bit of our admin committee that look at grant getting grants. And we look at funding and we’ve now got a community wellbeing plan and that is made up of all the different groups. Like we’ve got our southwest alcohol and other drug. We’ve got our sporting groups, we’ve got our police, we’ve got our community Health services, and they my role at those meetings is to make sure how can those people be involved . So they then have ownership of their plan and they’re not feeling like I’m turning up to a meeting to get told what to do. You know, because you can do that in an email. I just know it’s true because if you’re coming along and you felt like not you, but if one of those groups of people feeling that their concerns are being heard, their questions are being considered and really actioned. Then you leave that meeting, feeling really positive. Oh, that’s great, I had this issue. It’s been heard, it’s been listened to that it’s been valued and now I can go out there knowing that people are supporting me. I think valued is that keyword josh. I think that people feeling valued is just so critical and if you want to implement change, if people don’t feel valued, they’re never going to continue that work. And I think certainly when looking at a community or cross-sector approach to mental health, it is really important to feel to make sure that people feel valued because they may have things that you haven’t considered they. And that’s probably the majority of the time is that, you know, one of the things I feel passionate about is getting data and it makes me, it makes me laugh, thinking that I’m saying that because I’ve never liked data, but I think that I’m really finding out what’s going on, not just assuming that we know what’s going on is really important. We need to actually be creative in the way we get data. Not just stick to a server, but really go out there and talk to people and find different ways to engage people in a changing world. People who don’t have time and then really make sure that what you’re doing is something that people feel empowered by. Because in my example, what was amazing is when we first started, when I first started this community mental health action team, we knew that one of the things we needed was a youth officer because we were really worried about our youth. We have a lot of kids that leaving year 10 and we wanted to make sure there was engagement for them and something to do and, and ways to help them develop their mental health and know that they had support if they couldn’t. You know, one of ours isn’t to mental health support. Our closest town is another 30 kilometers and I myself live 40 kilometres out of town the other way. And a lot of people can’t get to these things. So we had to think ok, well this is our target group at the moment and what can we do to help them and make sure this sort of happens? That’s just really critical to start thinking about. What is it that you can do with this local group and where can you go and how can you make that sort of happen? Because by having a good set of frameworks, you can then look at we’re going to, we’re helping the youth at the moment, but who can we help later on? Like one of our, one of our key came out when we were doing our plan was that we need to start looking at intergenerational opportunities. We’ve got all this wisdom of our older age people and our youth have got passion and probably need to develop an understanding of respect and, and, you know, appreciate the wisdom that comes with how can we tie those two together because it wasn’t just naturally there. And certainly that sense of belonging and connection once again came up because back in the olden days, people came together and gathered, well, that’s not no longer there anymore. So we have to start thinking, well, how can we make that happen? And I’d say there’s a real disconnect or a real lack of intergenerational connection happening outside of maybe family, grandparents and family friends. Because I think it goes both ways in terms of young people perhaps. And this is obviously a generalization. generalizing perhaps, maybe not respecting and appreciating wisdom from the older generations and vice versa. older people not absolutely, maybe take into effect what young people can offer that their skills and knowledge at a young age sometimes I think, oh what, what can they do? What can they contribute? And so you do say, when I first come together, it’s a wonderful i think that’s so critical. And it’s interesting. One of the grants we’ve recently accessed has been a skill learn grant through the ABC Heywire Grants. And it’s been amazing because we’re now getting our youth actually starting today to have some of our business people talk about tax and superannuation and things that kids kind of miss out at a school level. But we’ve also looked at that exact reason. I was lucky enough to go to an amazing conference in perth and heard about a project with the five thousand days project. And one of the things we’re looking at is getting our youth to use this model. And it’s basically that by telling your story, you work through your own mental health and we’re thinking we’ve got these people in it. We have what’s called our home for the aged and our people live there in the past. We’ve had choir go to sing to them. And do other things and we thought, why not get our youth to interview significant people that are in the lodge and get them to tell their stories, which might otherwise have been lost, never to have been discovered. While we could get that person just to do an interview, we thought much better to have a youth. Someone in our youth actually do the interviewing because suddenly they’re getting to see and appreciate the wisdom that those people can offer. And I think it, but I think the trick is to find a way to set those processes up. Like sometimes we assume that they’ll happen incidentally. But if we can actually set up, this is a key one of our community wellbeing plan. We set up a few key outcomes. We said, well, we want to work on that whole idea of coming together and developing a sense of belonging and connection. We want to look at support pathways and where the gaps existed and how to fill it. And we wanted to look at education and awareness around alcohol and other drugs. Now the beauty is we could then change those priorities as we need to. But what’s really critical is that we can take that priority and go ok, how are we going to do that? Who can be involved in rather than just be the six or 10 people of us on the committee, working out doing a little duck feet and peddling and all that stuff. Let’s engage other people and then get them involved. And, and that just reminds me of something I was going to say earlier and I got off on a tangent, but, you know, I think it’s sort of getting, making people feel valued when we first started this committee. As I was mentioning that youth officer thing, we then wanted to find a youth officer and at the time we had a little bit of resistance from our shire who are now our biggest supporters. They’re just incredible, our shire and a great key part of making this action happen. But at the time we wanted to have this youth idea grow. And we ended up getting twenty five thousand dollars worth of donations from our local community, which was just incredible to create a position so that we could employ someone two days a week. And that only came from a just just amazing that came from a local co-op in our arlington park. But it was from that passion from listening to the opinion of the people and taking that supportive idea of passion that we were able to grow the idea. And turn it into something that we’re now looking at, getting bigger grants and, and getting attention. And as I said, I’m talking at conferences and notice, but it came from that starting point of valuing what people had to say. And things that we might not have noticed. So I think that’s really critical. If someone out there is listening to this and thinking like, wow, my community needs something like this, what would be and I’m putting you on the spot here. What would be your advice for, you know, maybe step one and two, how can someone get started? And because you’d mentioned that to start yourself, that’s really sometimes overwhelming just to even get started. It’s actually you mention that because I literally, while I was waiting for an interview, this morning was topping up a bit of an implementation letter about how to go from start to finish. Because it is a question I get asked a lot. Honestly, I really, really think that the starting point is your action team because you can do everything under the sun. We to want to start by going, let’s start doing something. But if you don’t have a really well set up team that support each other and it’s the right things in mind, you’re never going to be able to sustain what you’re doing. So my opinion is spending time whether it’s six months, whether it’s a year might be shorter, but whatever you need to do is thinking about who can we have on this team and, and it doesn’t have to be to start with. We started off with a small group of four to us and it’s going to sort of six to 10. And then we have a sort of a subcommittee that sits under us now that we’ve written a wellbeing plan. But it’s about thinking who’s going to be there honestly, and I don’t mean to say, I feel bad saying this when I am a chair, but find someone who can be a good chair, someone who can keep the motivation going and keep that not do the work not do all the work, but be that facilitator that checks off on that checklist, or we need to get moving on this. So we need to start talking about this and this needs to be on our agenda. I think having really clear, spending the time to start going, how are we going to reach decisions? Let’s be creative and make it a bit enjoyable and all this sort of thing. How are we going to meet when are we going to meet that at a time? That’s suitable to everyone to some people might need to zoom in and thinking about, like I said before, valuing people’s time. So I think the action team part’s really critical. I think the second thing to do is probably not second and probably at the same time is definitely create some form of overview. I think I’ve found over and over again whether it’s PBS behavior, whether it’s mental health in schools because I’ve kind of created a culture of wellbeing document in schools and I’ve created engagement plans and things like that. But have have a document that says from start to finish, this is the process we’re going to follow, not. This is the program we’re going to follow. The program might be one little element of it, but first we’re going to set up a team. Then we’re going to collect that data. bla bla bla bla, bla which lets the people it gives everybody a sense of direction and also a sense of achievement. When you can go yet we’ve done that. Fantastic. We’re moving along because I think at first, when you’re setting up processes like communication and getting the word out, social media or whatever it might be. You want to have a sense of yeah, we’re doing this because as I mentioned before, you need that sense of self achievement so you can feel proud of what you’re doing . So I think that’s really critical. And I’ve found that I’ve developed those for every single one of the work. Every single thing I ever do, I always create this, what I call an implementation checklist. And the other thing, as I mentioned, collecting some data. So I start by thinking what’s going on, what’s actually going on in our local community, and whether that’s a survey monkey thing or whether it’s you take like it. Certainly in Australia, we’re pretty lucky. We, as educators use a program called Be You it’s the beyondblue national sort of framework. There’s also one called the wellbeing network and you can take that and go, all right, well you can get some information about that. And what that allows is the team to then have a snapshot and create some initial goals. So you can yepp some goals now might change once you start getting more in-depth data, but at least you’ve got a starting point and then you can sort of say, right, well these are some things, let’s get some small wins because that’s probably the final picture i think at the start is to go, let’s at least have some small wins and then that might be like running a mental health week event or whether it might be running a little session or getting some money in or something that makes you go. Yeah, we’re doing something and we’re going to feel proud of it because I think when you first start, you’re not going to have everybody knocking on. aren’t you not going to have everybody doing everything that you as a small team want to create that momentum that can then grow to be whatever it is that you are trying to achieve? Yeah, I, I love that renee, can I ask a few questions and absolutely flesh out a couple of details here because I can imagine someone hearing this and going step one, what six months, 12 months like? It’s too long. Yeah, absolutely. But this is more of a comment, i guess, but if it’s an idea that’s worth doing to bring benefit to the community, then you really do need to make sure it is sustainable. As you said at the start, often these things are led by people volunteering their time and effort. And if someone, all of a sudden i’m sick or it’s too much, I cut my family life and work life as a means I can’t commit to it. And that person can’t do it any more than the initiative crumbles. And so that’s where the plan, the team, the overview, those kind of things are all playing a part in helping it to be sustainable. So I guess my question is, you know, two questions really. Who was your person that you relied on at the start when you were forming the comhat? If I remember, yeah, yeah, that’s what we call it. And yes, we can, can overview. We’re talking about when you’re laying at that overview, is that natural or common for it to change order to progress and be more of a living document, or is that something that you try and keep set in stone and work towards? Yeah, absolutely. So when I first started, i get a bit excited, i put my hand up for a lot of things. I really like to have everything well thought out when I start something. So I’d done a lot of that research and groundwork probably myself. I’d spoken to a great guy, Andrew Barrett who at the time was with Principles Institute Australia. But I think he’s just recently gone and joined by YSafe. It was probably more me talking to him and relaying how we were going about doing this. I think for me probably knowing where to go, I didn’t come from mental health. I think I my role in the chair was really about and this is my role, I suppose, even in my consultancy is helping develop those checklists, helping to develop that process. And I’d done, i’d been the chair of a positive behavior support program at school. And I’ve done a lot of work. And what was amazing about that was it wasn’t a behavior program. It wasn’t, you know, a program that everybody followed. It was a process for change and I’d spent a lot of time working on that process for change and had been asked to present at a lot of network meetings and things about the way I was doing it. Because I would kind of take that process of change and change it, but I saw the advantages of that. So I took that idea and took what wasn’t there and what, what like I took the resources for mental health i use at the time mind matters. I used to be you, I used the student mental wellbeing network and created my own overview for that because as you said, I think it does change, but I like to have a really well thought out document. I like to try and think about all the different things now I might end up coming and inserting other stuff in later. But I think by fleshing out that idea and not the how it’s not real, i don’t think that document is the how it’s the, what it’s the like it for example, it might be, consult with the community about what’s happening. And then how might be, you know, evolve, but by having that there, that’s what triggers you. So what I’ve actually found is I really end up changing that checklist. But because I’ve, you know, sort of extracted it so well. But what I do change, what changes all the time, is that for each one of those pointers, i might have an action plan that evolves around that. And that’s what changes, because that’s the strategy. It’s a little bit like you’ve got your outcomes and what you want to do, but the strategies of how it happens that is decided by the team. And that’s decided by the localizes. So that’s why it works quite well to have this checklist and why I’m currently producing that so that people can access it through my website. Because if you’ve got that, then any law, any environment, any local area can do it, it’s not you and make a plan that looks very different to the Boyup Brook plan, but that the checklist of what you’re doing is the same. So I think that’s really critical in terms of doing it. Certainly in terms of my support people on the circuit side, one if you can get your local doctor involved when you first form the team, it’s really valuable and we only had one at the time. And luckily he was really passionate about mental health. You don’t have an urban setting, you might have many know it. But luckily we had the good one and he’s just disappeared to Queensland, so we don’t have any anymore. But we, I think if you can get one of your local doctors on board that has changed the game for us because we’re talking to someone in health and they can, you know, be involved with Education and our police. And that’s been really critical. So having the right people on the team is important, but at the same time, sometimes it’s about getting people who are passionate. I’ve got one person we thought we originally started with myself, the local doctor, the community resource manager, and a local businesswoman and parent. And all four of those people were people that were motivated and action people. Now only one of those other people is still on there. With me, but she is just incredible. She’s an amazing lady, Mary Ingles, i’m just going to call her, who’s our treasurer, and she’s just, you know, we’ve got this through all the different changes we’ve had. Having someone that you’ve got to rely on is really helpful because I think you don’t want to be going it alone in these things because you want that sense of belonging and connection to you. And I think like you mentioned, people have things that go on and drop out. So you’ve got to have a little I think sustainability in your team is really quite pretty cool. So you really have to think that through carefully so that you can put into place things and we found now that our team’s growing, we’ve got one of the best things that we put on. And I’ve just written it onto my checklist is when you get through a little bit, get a dedicated, dedicated grant writer, not someone who’s the chair or the treasurer or the youth officer who’s already got a massively full role. We originally paid someone a minimal amount like they weren’t, we weren’t paying the minimal, but we only had them for a few hours a week. They have brought in way, way, way, way more money to our organization than we have ever outlined like we pay them for all the hours they do, but they are going to try to just get so much because that’s what she’s focused on . And I see it with shiers and with other people as if you can really allow for that it’s, it’s really important. So I think that’s a really critical part of why are all over the place there, josh, but no inscrutable, grand writing is also very specialised. So if, if someone knows how to address a, you know, a grant application correctly, then they’re going to be more likely to succeed, even if I’m not saying any one’s better than another one. But you don’t mean like, you could have two programs that are vastly different in terms of the impact and the quality. But if one grant is addressing all of the criteria and nailing the brief and hitting the guidelines and objectives, that’s probably going to be successful. And this is how grant applications work. So I think that’s a brilliant piece of advice and the grant, i think actually the person, i’m a big believer that relationships are critical when it comes to anything, you know, the relationship familias, a chair with the team and with the community and well, a grant writer, and certainly our grant writer develops relationships when she’s finding out the information and working through things. And I think that’s really important. And once again, she feels valued in her role and, you know, I think, you know, I keep harping on about that thing, but I think that it’s, it’s really important. And it’s just to go back to what you said before about the idea of and I think people actually would be that 6 to 12 to have an action team . But what’s important is that sustainability because you know, whether it’s you, who’s doing it in a volunteer role, or whether that later evolves to a payroll or whatever it might be. By coming to those meetings, you want to feel that you’ve got a sense of belonging and connection. You want people to feel valued and you want to make sure that, that continues on. So our typical first year we spent, we certainly didn’t spend the whole year developing protocols and stuff. We probably spent a meeting or two. But what we did is go, do we all have the same understanding of mental health? How can we develop a shared understanding? So let’s, let’s figure that out for ourselves. Does the community have the same understanding of mental health? Let’s figure out if they do so suddenly we’re getting a little bit of presence in the community. They’re starting to go, oh, how is this community mental health action team because it’s not always gifted to you by the shire or whatever. It’s often someone who’s passionate and it’s taking those strengths and then turning it into something that’s going to be workable and feasible. I suppose, yeah, for sure. And I hate to touch on the same thing over and over, but that six or 12 month idea that is we’re talking about here a long term action that’s really going to be in the community for a long time. We’re not talking about a project, a one off initiative or project, obviously, those things that you can have the idea and run with it and have great success, but that’s more of a one off kind of thing. So I also wanted to ask you, you talked about speaking at other conferences and you know, sounds like you’ve helped a lot of people through your consultancy, which is called Think Effective. I hear you’re off interstate soon to present. Is that right? I am of exciting at the moment, lots going on. So I’ve, I’ve, I’ve just been invited to go and present at the International Mental Health conference in Queensland at the end of July. It’s very exciting. And next week I’m involved there’s a new association called Care Hub, which has been done by the West Australian Mental Health Group. And I’m actually presenting about this community approach to mental health next week. Yeah, I’ve got a few opportunities coming up. I’ve recently presented at the rural and regional conference earlier in the year, which was just just an amazing opportunity. These conferences i’ve ineducation, we used to have district offices and that doesn’t exist anymore. And I think as someone in a rural area, but even in the city that chance to talk to like minded people, you just come away buzzing, you know, you come away excited and excited about what’s going on. And so I think obviously my last two conferences, i did one, there was the mental health network conference as well that was at the end of 2020 . And both of those recent ones were virtually which was great. They were set up really well done, but I’m really looking forward to the opportunity in July to go and actually meet people and talk to people. Because I think the sharing of ideas, the sharing of our strengths, which is the whole idea behind a community or cross-sector approach. But by doing this, the more we can share our ideas and work together and find effective ways to do things. I think there’s so many passionate people who have incredible strength to share and if we can put our heads together and, and really think about this sort of stuff, I think we can make a real difference. I am. I got invited. It must have been last year to be involved in the young people’s priority framework planning with the west Australian government and various different people through the health network. And it was just so exciting to start to talk about some of these things because I think we need to tap in to whether it’s volunteer is or whether it’s leaders in various places and find out what’s working effectively and then take that and make real change happen because I guess that’s what I’m passionate about is I don’t want the work of great people to be wasted. I think. Let’s take that passion, take that great, great stuff and make a process that’s sustainable. And that can make real change happen. Whether you in an urban or rural setting, so that you know, five, ten years from now, the statistics start to change, you know, hopefully earlier than that. But, you know, I think that’s really important. I think the timing is absolutely instrumental now it’s crucial because of the year and the year we’re having now anyway. And some areas and regional towns may not be affected. You over there in WA, and regional WA, a very different experience to what’s happening where I am in Melbourne. That said you still want to about it here, but you still were being affected with it. And people are getting used to different ways of doing community, of being part of a community. We’re talking about kids who had potentially a whole year of not going to school or child care or university and then getting back into it. And so I think this is really important timing to be having a focus on community, on mental health and how we all value each other. And it comes back to that I think absolutely. And I just honestly think that idea of community and belonging, it’s always been there and it’s clear even before covid, but covid really highlighted it. Is that, that, that sense of coming together is critical, but it has to be able to look different for everybody. I’m an extrovert, so I love getting together, but you know, like my husband is, he’s more introverted being and being on the farm. He doesn’t necessarily have that, but he still needs that connection and belonging. And I’ve heard, we’ve had some amazing groups come and speak at Boyup, we had a group called Doors Wide Open, who do a lot of work with addiction and drugs and things like that. And to hear some of the people who had lived experience talk and they’d ended up down the path of addiction because of the connection. I felt because I didn’t have it any of the other ways. kids that I’ve talked to who’ve had gaming addictions and where are they finding their belongings through that game? You know, I think there’s so many different ways that people connect alone. But I think covid has really highlighted that we, we, all, it’s part of being human is that we need that connection and some people need it in a subtle way, or in a way that’s not to in their face. But we all need it in some way. So I think that, and I think this is the ideal situation. You mentioned covid. granted, we’ve been very spoilt in Western Australia, just spoke to my brother in Canada and they’re in their latest lockdown. And I’m very lucky. I think that that just shows why you need a framework for change because at the moment it’s covid. But at other times in a community it could be drought, or it could be bushfires or it could be a local tragedy. If we only ever put into place and I’m not against programs, i think programs are excellent, but it might be that you take and put into place in that framework around what the current local target is like. At the moment we’re having to say it was a drought issue. We need to get these people in. And that’s part of our process. Know, first of all be thinking about who’s needed and what we’ve got to do. But by having that process, by setting up that action team and doing well for the first time in my world, it would be that, Well, that’s a sustainable method for change that can then sit in that local area or that community no matter what the situation is, you know, you can then apply it to whatever it might be. Now, obviously your head is full of incredible knowledge and resources, but I know that your blog on your website has some really great content as well. Where can people find out more and read more and connect with you? Absolutely. So I’m really trying to set up my blog so that what I’m using my head is, is out there for people to access. And I’ve got some resources, like I mentioned, the checklist, a few other things that people can just access straight away for free so I can just get started. But then what I’ve done in my blog is try to piece out each of those things nicely. Because once you take it at your local environment, you want to kind of go, well, how do I do that? And I’m a big believer that, that looks different for everybody. Some people like to have one on one. So someone could want to work with me and I could help support them, do that. Some people like to be able to do it from their computer and do it step by stuff at their own pace. So if anyone wants to get in contact with me, absolutely head to think effective, that’s thinkeffective.com.au today and on there you can access my blogs, my newsletters, resources, and things like that. You can certainly get in contact with me via my email, which is on the website and my phone number, and more than happy to talk to people just to bounce off ideas. But also if anyone wants me to come out and work with them or provide them with resources, then I’d love to be a part of any change we can make happen in this space. That’s wonderful. And obviously you’re on Linkedin as well. And yes, you put your links to your Linkedin and to your website in the show notes of any and, and I’ve got to, if you look up effective consultants, i’ve got a Facebook page, which I try to keep fairly active with my latest blogs and just things that can help people and link them to anything that might be of support in these really important important area. Now, before I let you go, Renee, i do have to ask you, we are on the inspirational australian’s podcast. What do you personally find inspiration or whether it’s a person or anything at all? Wow, that’s a big question. I just throw it on you right at the end. Although I like it, I like it, look. I get it. I really and truly get inspired when I talk to people other like minded people and as I said, going to conferences, i just it brings me to life. Yeah. It’s just, there’s so much passion and excitement out there, but I very much get inspired by my husband and my family. I love them to bits and I can’t. And my friends and my network, I think that they keep me inspired and, and always on track. And I really do enjoy a microphone. I love being the lead singer of a band like that really fires me up. I can understand that I love some karaoke, but I have no musical talent, so it is limited to karaoke to me, but that’s great. You never know what’s hidden in there. Thank you so much, Renee, absolute pleasure chatting to you. And we have to keep in touch. And I do encourage people because I’ve been on your website and it does have some really good content too. And especially if you wanting to get started in this, you need some help contact and you’ll will be an incredible asset for you. So thanks for having me, josh. Yeah, yeah. I hope you enjoyed that interview. If you liked it or any of our other episodes, it would be great if you can rate and review the inspirational Australian’s podcast. 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