3rd African Leaders & Elders National Mental Health Conference held in Sydney

The third African Leaders & Elders National Mental Health Conference was held on 19-20 April, 2013. The conference was organised by the Federation of the Congolese Council of Australia, funded by the Department of Mental Health and Ageing and supported by the Great Lakes Agency for Peace and Development (GLAPD).

Mental health is a key issue facing many refugees and migrants in Australia today. The annual conferences aim to raise awareness about the existence of mental health in African communities and to provide practical information to their representatives for use in their own community.

The conference was officially opened by Hon Chris Hayes (Federal MP for Fairfield) and was attended by approximately 100 people from Congolese, Rwandan, Burundian, South Sudanese, Ethiopian, Liberian, Somalian and Kenyan communities around Australia and many special guests, including Dai Le (Deputy chairperson of Ethnic Communities of NSW).

Some of the topics discussed during the conference include:

  • Mental Health First Aid
  • Promoting Mental Health education in my community
  • Factors impacting on Mental Health of my community members
  • Problems faced by carers of those suffering from Mental Health of my community members
  • Mental Health support in home countries

Presentations were given by, among others, the Transcultural Mental Health Centre,  STARTTS and Karitane. Louise Starr (Mental Health Support Worker) shared her personal survival experience. Discussion group sessions provided a great opportunity to share experiences and to develop new initiatives for improving mental health services in African communities. We thank Sheila Matete-Owiti, a GLAPD consultant, and Nadine Shema from GLAPD, for being the MC’s for the conference. Special performances were given by the Jerusalem Rumba Band from Melbourne, Abeza Rwandan Cultural Dance group from Sydney, and Umoja Youth Productions of NSW.

Notes and key findings from the conference will also be made available on this website shortly. Photos are courtesy of Louise Whelan.