History

Support for mental health carers in Queensland began at the Stones Corner Community Mental Health Service in 1976. This is when a young social worker on his final placement at the Stones Corner Community Mental Health Service, (then the only such service in Queensland) recognised a need among the families of his clients for a ‘relatives’ discussion group’. Such a group would enable families to meet and share their experiences as carers of family members with a serious mental illness. The group initially commenced with five people who discovered, many for the first time, that they were not alone. They began the fragile process of hearing each other’s stories and working through the pain together, with both tears and laughter. 

From these beginnings Arafmi built a model which mutually supports people in one of the most primary roles of humanity – caring for people more vulnerable than ourselves and the ones we love. Arafmi built a model of service which both created and shared knowledge about how to understand who we are, the roles we fulfil and how to take action in the world. From these humble beginnings, Arafmi took action in the world! 

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1970

A Social Worker on his final placement at the Stones Corner Community Mental Health Service, started a ‘relatives’ discussion group wtih five people.

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1977

Discussion group took on the formal name – Association of Relatives and Friends of the Mentally  III, calling themselves Arafmi. Arafmi established its first craft stalls and commenced fundraising. Arafmi’s Logo is a picture of Coolibah tree (The flooded Box tree),  accompanied by the words, “You are not alone”.

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1978

First brochure using the Arafmi motto, “You a Are Not Alone”. The brochure was written for the general community and to provide referral information for mental health workers. Hughie Williams arranged for the Building Worker’s Union to print 500 brochures  as community service.

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1978

First 24-hour volunteer telephone home support line established.

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1979

“Caring and Sharing” Support groups established in Bisbane. First “Young Arafmi’ Group formed – Friendship House New Farm.

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1980

Bisbane Arafmi group organised its first half-day seminar. Cornwall St, Annerley, Gold Coast Support Group started.  

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1981

Arafmi devised a format for meetings with agreed rules for sharing and caring meetings, as they then were called – this format remains substantially the same today. Formation of a Steering Committee – first elected office bearers. Sunshine Coast Support Group started. Warwick support group received an international grant convene a seminar on mental illness.

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1983

Arafmi produces its first newsletter.

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1984

Arafmi delivers its first Coping Skills Workshop and first information reference library established. Arafmi establishes its first information reference library.

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1985

‘Coping with Mental illness: a handbook for family carers’. Ispswich, Atherton and Mackay group first meet. Arafmi provides first community awareness program providing ‘education’ and input the Nursing curriculum at Wolston Park Hostpital. Education talks commenced for students of social work; psychology; occupational therapy; medicine; pharmacy; social sciences; and human service.

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1986

Arafmi invited to talk to new Queensland Police Recruits. Arafmi delivers its first “effective communication”;”lose and grief” and “suicide prevention” workshops. Arafmi starts its “outreach program: volunteers drive around Queensland. Support Groups now established in Wynnum Cairns, Atherton, Bundaberg, Rockhampton, Gympie, Mackay and Roma. Incorporation of Arafmi Bisbane Inc.

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1991

Arafmi appear before and represent carers at the Brian Burdekin National Inquiry into Mental Health

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1993

Her Excellency Leneen Forde, the Governor of Queensland, awarded Ailsa with a Member of the General Division of the Order of Australia at tGovernment House with Eva and Barbara attending the investiture ceremony as Ailisa’s guest.

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1994

John Skelton (Arafmi) lead the initiative to form a statewide peak body  for non-government organizations – later to become the Queensland Alliance for Menthal Health. The Queensland Health Department provided Arafmi funding for the development of mental health program for secondary school students. The Program is now called Mental Illness Education Autralia (ME Australia) and its branch in Queensland is located on the Sunshine Coast.

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1995

Jogn Skelton (Arafmi) inaugural chair of the Queensland Consumer Advisory Group (QCAG). The first Arafmi newsletter produced on a computer was made. Queensland Health provided $20 000 Rockhampton Forum. Arafmi received funding through the HACC program to include HACC workers around the State in training programs for family carers.

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2000

First family support program commenced. Jeredine opened for business at Camp Hill. Premier’s Award for Queensland Seniors, John Skelton was one of their outstandin achievements by the Premier, Peter Beattie and Anna Bligh, Minister for Families, Youth and Community Care. Arafmi Queensland Inc founded. Planned Lifetime Assistance Network (PLAN) Alliance Formed.

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2001

Young Arafmi reformed formed and redeveloped. Arafmi secured grant develop KOPING resource library which is housed at the Institute for Child and Adolscent Psgychiatry, Spring Hill. The International Year of the Volunteer, Certificates of Appreciation were presented to all Arafmi telephone support volunteers. Life Membership has been conferred on. Associate Professor Bob Bland, Alisa, Whitehead, Barbara Grieg, Pat Jones, Evelyn Lyndon, and John Skelton.

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2002

Arafmi publishes books on: Coping with Mental Illness handbook for family carers. Supporting People with Psychiatric DisabilitiesL Information, Skills and Strategies for Support Workers. Future Directions: For a Planned Lifetime Assistance Program for People with a Mental Illness. 30 support groups now established in Queensland.

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2003

Book Launch: “25 Years, 25 Stories”. Arafmi joined with Public Advocate other groups from the mental health sector in a complaint to the Australian Press Council, against irresponsible reporting on mental health issues and the negative portrayal of people with mental health problems. Arafmi Family Foucus project lunched (in-reach to acute mental health hospital – Royal Bisbane PAH). 5,000 copies of  “Coping with Metal Illness: A handbook for Family Carers” now distributed.

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2004

An addition vegicle purchased with thanks to a grant from the Gambling Community Benifit Fund.

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2005

Pilot project launched in New Farm with counselling being offered by professional volunteers. Carer Connect program established, support individual families and carers with the assistance of funding from Disability Service Queensland. Life Long Planning Project Completed (funded by Disability Services Queensland), presenting a model of service to assist family to plan for the future care and support needs of their family member with a disability.

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2006

Arafmi Qld Inc. Incorporates the additional title ‘mental Health Carers’ in the name of the organization.

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2007

‘The Art of Caring’ Conference held at Queensland University of Technology. 30th Anniversary attended by Arafmi’s Founding Patron, Ms Margaret Liles (OAM) and Patron Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce.

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2007-08

Arafmi Qld Inc doubles in size, with federal funding received to commence two new Family Support Programs – Adina (Deception Bay) and Karinya (Ipswich).

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2009

Arafmi adopts an additional Patron, Professor Ross Youch. Chief Executive, Marj Bloor, appointed to the Queensland Carers Advisory Council. First ‘WAlk of Pride’ held in Bisbane. ‘Kui’ Lifestyle Support Program commences under the Arafmi name.

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2010

‘Arafmi House’ opens. First Carers Retreat held and Arafmi’s website launched.

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2011

Mental Health Carers Hub (Ipswich) commenced in response to the January 2011 floods.

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2012

Participated in the national ‘Mental Health Respite: Carers Support – Consultation Report’, prepared for the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.

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2013

Redlands Mental Health Carers Hub ‘Warawee’ commenced. Toowoomba Mental Health Carers Hub commenced.

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2014

Secured core carer support services in the recommissioning of services with Qld Health and Disability Services Qld.

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2015

First Annual Mental Health Carers Forum (Bisbane Convention and Exhibition Centrre).

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2016

National Standards Care support. ‘The Economic Value of Informal Mental Health Caring in Australia: A summary report’ released. NDIS Registered Service provider.

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2017

Submission to National NDIS Parliamentary Enquiry.

September 3, 2020