Central Coast ARAFMI held an Open Day and community barbecue at its Bateau Bay Mental Health Support Centre, Yakkalla, on June 11.
Central Coast ARAFMI is a grassroots organisation that was established by mental health carers more than 40 years ago.
Yakkalla is a social, recreational and educational centre for men and women 18 years and older whose lives have been affected by mental illness, and is also an accredited NDIS provider for people living with a psychological disability.
At Yakkalla, programs are designed by members for members.
According to Yakkalla Program Coordinator, Kylie Elliot, the centre offers a range of activities for people looking to meet others with a similar lived experience with mental illness who are also still on their journey towards wellness and recovery.
Elliot said the Open Day was a day to celebrate the members, volunteers and staff that have made Yakkalla such an enduring success, but also as a means to raise awareness about the centre and its offerings.
The day was led by members who showcased Yakkalla’s various programs to over 100 guests and culminated in a ribbon cutting conducted by newly appointed Assistant Shadow Minister for Mental Health and Carers, Federal Member for Dobell, Emma McBride.
It was a poignant moment for McBride whose father, former Member for The Entrance, the late Grant McBride, opened the centre in 1995.
According to Elliot, the event was held to reintroduce Yakkalla to the wider community and to highlight the centre’s recent renovations, courtesy of a $17,000 grant from McBride.
Renovations included new floorings, furniture, decking, fencing, gardens and doors, as well as painting works throughout the centre, inside and out, and new technology and equipment.
Elliot said the renovations were a labour of love made possible by the centre’s army of volunteers and staff who gave up their weekends, public holidays and free time over a number of months to ensure the works were completed in time for the Open Day.
“When the NDIS came into effect, we lost all of our block funding, but at Yakkalla we have stood by our ethos of never turning anyone away,” she said.
Elliot contributed Yakkalla’s success to this member driven approach, but said the centre was now more reliant on volunteers and the support of the community than ever before.
“When our members walk through our gates they know they are safe, but when they’re out in the community, they have to hide their mental health problem.
“At Yakkalla, they know they can embrace their mental health struggle and know they aren’t defined by it,” Elliot said.
Interview, Jun 13
Kylie Elliot, Yakkalla
Dilon Luke, Journalist