WOLLONGONG NURSE TO IMPROVE MENTAL HEALTH OF AUSTRALIAN VOLUNTEERS
7 Nov 2018
Australian volunteer organisations do not have a standardised approach to peer support. This places our volunteers at high risk of exposure to critical and traumatic events, which can lead to serious mental health issues.
Louise Murphy, a Towradgi local, has received a Churchill Fellowship because of her motivation to improve organisational approaches for the mental health of vulnerable volunteer workers.
Louise will travel to the UK, Canada and the USA to connect with subject experts, learn about international best practice peer support programs, and bring her learnings back to Australia.
Louise has always been passionate about the importance of supporting volunteers and helping reduce mental health issues in the community.
Louise is a Principal Nurse Educator for Mental Health Services at the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District, and has been a volunteer with St John Ambulance for fourteen years.
When Louise found out she had received a Fellowship, she felt excited and proud as she feels the Fellowship is an opportunity for her to represent thousands of other emergency service volunteers.
“The Fellowship will allow me to meet international experts in the field of peer support and emergency services, and provide me with a better understanding of how to reduce suicide and mental health issues for volunteer emergency service personnel.
“I look forward to discovering innovative programs, research, policies and practices related to peer support and emergency services, and gathering information that will help guide the development of a peer support program that will meet the needs of Australian emergency service volunteers.
“I also want to focus on youth mental health issues. First aid responder organisations, such as St John Ambulance, deploy young volunteers to deliver services to the community. It is therefore essential that we nurture our young people to strengthen their resilience and prevent mental health issues.”
Adam Davey, CEO of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, said that Louise is a terrific example of an ordinary Australian seeking to broaden expertise and bring innovative thinking to Australia.
“This is an extraordinary opportunity for Louise to bring home findings that can benefit the mental health of volunteers who tirelessly give their time to helping others in times of need,” Mr Davey said.
“We look forward to seeing how Louse will apply the knowledge she gains overseas to contribute to reducing mental health issues for volunteers in Australia.”