Author Archives: Helen Marquez

Aboriginal Community/Cultural Mentors


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience high levels of psychological distress at a rate significantly greater than the non-Indigenous community.

The Hunter PIR Aboriginal Advisory Group proposed the development of a group of Aboriginal Mentors in recognition of this community need.

The Aboriginal Cultural Mentors will provide localised, culturally appropriate mentoring support and ongoing cultural learning for non-indigenous people who deliver services to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people and their communities.

A Better Mum – Mellissa’s Story


Mellissa had been experiencing significant challenges since her troubled childhood. She had lost the most important things in her life before finding Hunter PIR. 

“I put myself in hospital … I was having a very hard time in life … I had nothing … I wasn’t a good mum, I wasn’t good for my children and I had to get better to become a good mum. If I didn’t have Partners in Recovery in my life I would surely be back in hospital.  Since getting better I’ve learned to interact with people again … my kids see a big change … I had to do a lot of work to get back up there.  Hunter Partners in Recovery help people get back up, they care”. 

See other personal stories of other Hunter PIR consumers and carers on our You Tube channel.

Mark – The Unofficial Mayor


Mark is a PIR consumer from the Lake Macquarie area supported by the Charlestown-based Neami National team. He had experienced significant physical injuries resulting from a fall, and had been dealing with mental health challenges for many years before connecting with PIR. 

“Sitting in the house no hope no future … thinking every night you go to bed maybe I’ll get lucky and I won’t wake up, now it’s completely changed.  My connection with Partners in Recovery has been the turning point in my life … my family’s got pride in me now that I’m not a burden to them anymore”.

Help with Hoarding & Squalor

Hunter PIR partner, Aftercare, is heading a working group of key stakeholders trying to tackle the problems of hoarding and squalor that affect many people living with a mental illness in the Hunter community. Compulsive hoarding can pose significant health and safety risks to individuals such as tripping hazards, an increased risk of fire and poor hygiene.  Hoarding and squalor are frequently the result of complex contributing factors, and require a multi-agency approach to resolve.

The Working Group will coordinate a range of activities and services targeting consumers in the Maitland, Cessnock and Dungog areas.  These will include facilitating access to specialist clinician support and group therapy; providing education and training for mental health and community support workers; and the presentation of a community forum to provide practical information and raise awareness of hoarding and squalor behaviours among community managed organisations.

STOP PRESS: See the NBN News story about the Hoarding & Squalor Working Group on Wednesday 17 June featuring the personal story of an Aftercare  peer support worker.  

PIR and the NDIS – Building a Stronger Partnership


Image of CoverThe Hunter Region is unique in that it hosts both a trial site for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and a Partners in Recovery (PIR) Program. Hunter PIR is contracted to provide ‘in kind’ support to the NDIS, and currently both programs share more than 50 joint consumers.

Based on our experiences working alongside the NDIS, Hunter PIR has drafted a discussion paper, “PIR and the NDIS, Building A Stronger Partnership”.  The paper describes the complementary aspects of PIR/NDIS service provision, outlines some of the challenges and outcomes experienced by ‘joint consumers’, and proposes recommendations for future collaboration between the NDIS and PIR.  You can access the discussion paper here.