Funding challenges force closure of Coffs Coast suicide prevention program

WESLEY LifeForce Aftercare, the Coffs Harbour-based suicide prevention program, closed at the end of November due to the inability to secure funding from the State government.

While a new program is being introduced by Healthy North Coast in the second half of 2024, there’s a six-month gap for a service that was helping numerous people across Coffs Harbour.

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Set up in early 2021 in recognition of the high rates of suicide and suicidal distress in the area, Wesley LifeForce Aftercare supported many locals and their friends and family through an innovative and multifaceted fourteen-week program of recovery.

The program worked to help people who had experienced suicidal distress integrate back into the community.

A key part of the program was the Peer Support Group which operated as a safe space for people to share their experiences and connect with each other.

Speaking with News Of The Area, Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh said, “There were lots of losers in this year’s state budget and this is one of those services that has missed out on funding from the Minns Labor Government.

“It was a crucial cog in our mental health services on the Coffs Coast and until it’s funded by Healthy North Coast next year there will now be a gap in our local mental health services.

“By the time they hire people and get it up and running it could be nine months.

“Mental health services are in high need on the Coffs Coast.

“The Wesley LifeForce Aftercare service was targeted – it filled a gap that no other provider did in our area.”

Monika Wheeler, CEO of Healthy North Coast told NOTA, “Healthy North Coast will continue to invest in suicide prevention and aftercare services for the North Coast community through The Way Back service (Tweed, Byron, Lismore and Grafton) and the Care Connect program in Port Macquarie, Kempsey and Bellingen.

“We’re working with Social Futures, who are delivering the Care Connect program, to offer supports to Coffs Harbour until 30 June 2024, at which point we will have appointed a provider to deliver The Way Back service on the Mid North Coast.

“For anyone needing immediate mental health support, we encourage you to call Lifeline or the 24-hour Mental Health Line.”

For immediate crisis support, contact:

Emergency 000

Lifeline 13 11 14

24-hour Mental Health Line 1800 011 511

Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467

13YARN 13 92 76

QLife 1800 184 527


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