Grand opening marks mental health legacy

GRAND OPENING: Our Town guardian Emma Gale and peer connector and chairperson Mick Traeger at the street frontage in Cummins. Photo: Lauren Fitzgerald.
GRAND OPENING: Our Town guardian Emma Gale and peer connector and chairperson Mick Traeger at the street frontage in Cummins. Photo: Lauren Fitzgerald.

The Our Town 'village' and office in Cummins celebrated their grand opening on October 15, hosting several activities at their site next to the hall on Railway Terrace.

Since beginning the Our Town journey at the beginning of 2020, Cummins, along with Kimba and Ceduna on the EP were named final recipients of 10 years worth of mental health funding from the Fay Fuller Foundation at the end of last year.

Our Town guardian Emma Gale said it took some time to find an street frontage, but they had been working there for some months now to build their foundation before opening.

The day began from 3pm with a focus on the younger community, followed by speakers at 5.30pm and activities, live music, food and drinks.

The premises hosts a 'village' space, and is being turned into a fun space for young people to connect, already featuring a wall mural painted by Port Lincoln artist Emma Fuss.

It also has office spaces for the project leaders and core team.

Mrs Gale said the opening was about getting the message out there that "Our Town is for everyone".

"It (was) an opportunity for everyone to meet the connectors and learn how to be a part of it," she said.

Mrs Gale said they asked some questions of the community to get some base data, and get them thinking about whether they play an active role for mental health - asking them to answer "yes" or "not yet".

She said they had several volunteers and employees, some of which crossover, making up the team.

"Mick (Traeger) is our chairperson of our core team of volunteers," she said.

Mr Traeger said it was when people get to a crisis point they realise the lack of services available.

"We want to know how to go about preventing the crisis situation in the first place," he said.

"How do we get help to them before they realise they need it?"

He said they were going to test and rollout some of the ideas from the plan based on their research and insights over the last two years, and were now looking for volunteers for working groups.

Mrs Gale said people could have as much or as little involvement as they wanted to, but what was key was that the preventative approach was community-led.

"Our biggest strength is the community," said Mr Traeger.

We work in this space tirelessly because of the tragedies that have happened in this space, and we want to acknowledge the people we have lost and why we lost them.

Emma Gale

Mrs Gale said Our Town had partnered with West Coast Youth and Community Support and Mentally Fit EP, which enabled them to build a foundation and focus on "the stuff we want to be doing".

"We decided to partner with West Coast Youth and Community Support...they've provided HR and admin support.

She said partnering with Mentally Fit EP was important for the team due to Kirsty Traeger's legacy of championing for a mentally fit Eyre Peninsula.

"That's what she started, without her drive and input to start it off, we wouldn't be here," she said.

"We were ready, and Kirsty paved the way for that.

"We work in this space tirelessly because of the tragedies that have happened in this space, and we want to acknowledge the people we have lost and why we lost them."

Follow Our Town Cummins on Facebook or Instagram to know more about the working groups or what days and times Our Town village opens.