THE seeds of ground-breaking mental health support service Barrier Breakers were sown decades ago, when founder Derek Amos was growing up in the 1950s with a mentally ill family member.
Sadly, in those days mental health services were pretty primitive, and the family faced an ongoing battle to get the support needed.
Wind forward to 2021, and Mr Amos can be proud of the growth of Barrier Breakers, a service he co-founded in 2006 which has grown from strength to strength, and now provides a vital Gippsland-wide service for parents and carers with family members suffering mental illness, patients and consumers, medical practitioners and other concerned people.
Speaking last Friday at the renaming of its Desailly St building and community hub to the Derek Amos Community Hub Centre, former Morwell MP Derek Amos OAM said the renaming of the hub was a touching and special occasion that recognised the work he and others had put into growing Barrier Breakers.
“I am so proud of the team and where we have come and what we provide today, because it’s been a long struggle to get here and to get the people with mental health issues the help and support they need,” he said.
“When I first started the service like this in 2006, I was basically doing it on my own and it was a long, hard battle.
“It is amazing to see what the service and support can do for sufferers and their loved ones.”
Barrier Breakers is an advocacy service for people with mental illness. It focuses on the needs, wishes and rights of clients, protecting confidentiality.
One of its aims is to increase clients’ control over goods, services and quality of life, and to develop a sense of empowerment and of being valued.
The Derek Amos Community Hub Centre is in the former Sale High School building, sharing the large, heritage building with several other community groups, including the Wellington Toy Library, Bug Blitz and U3A.
Barrier Breakers chairman Dr Cameron Hogan said advocacy for people suffering mental health challenges in Gippsland communities meant clients were not alone in facing the process of seeking help and support.