Connecting and working together for wellbeing

Wattle Place is based in Western Sydney, but our service extends to the whole of NSW. A large proportion of the support we offer can be provided over the phone, via email, via Zoom and through our website.

However, we recognise that people in the regions aren’t able to access a number of the events and activities organised by Wattle Place, because they live outside of the Sydney region, and therefore, may not necessarily feel as connected to the community as those who live in Sydney.

Connection is key

Each year, Wattle Place travels to regional locations for “outreach”. The main purpose of these trips to regional areas is to meet with existing Wattle Place community members who live there. We meet for a lunch and chat. These lunches are always very enjoyable for the Wattle Place staff and provide the opportunity for clients to catch up with old friends, or meet new ones, all of whom share similar childhood experiences. It is also an opportunity for the clients to let us know how their experience with Wattle Place is going and provide feedback for staff to take to Wattle Place management to consider.

We hope that outreach helps people living outside of Sydney to feel more connected with Wattle Place. We want them to know that they are just as much a part of the community as anyone else who is a part of Wattle Place. Meeting face to face is a lovely way to make connections.

We also take the opportunity, while we are in regional towns, to meet with local community service organisations. Many of the people we work with at Wattle Place have been impacted by childhood trauma. Wattle Place specifically recognises and works to address the affects of that childhood trauma. We may be the only place people feel safe to talk about their past, or feel comforted in the fact that they don’t have to talk about their past for us to understand what they have been through. For people who have felt brutalised, silenced, forgotten and shamed for most of their lives, it can be healing just to be recognised, acknowledged and validated, without having to fight for that.

For those who choose to, they can work with us to better understand and process the impacts of the childhood trauma they experienced and learn strategies to gain some control over those impacts. This is supplemented with accessing care and other records, family tracing, practical support, group work and social activities, including the lunches in the regions.

Working together for greater wellbeing

However, experiences of childhood trauma alter the nervous system to the extent that, put very simply, it becomes constantly dysregulated into adulthood, which has implications in many areas of a person’s life. That means people impacted by childhood trauma will tend to need more support in various aspects of their everyday lives.

Wattle Place is not able to provide all the everyday supports that a person might need as a result of their trauma, such as support for housing assistance, addiction, disability services, leaving incarceration, etc. Or, in the case of Wattle Place members unable to join our social activities, it may just be social support if they are feeling isolated. Our goal is to see our clients thrive, and that requires meeting as many of their needs as possible, often referred to as “wrap-around” service, or wholistic support.

That is where partnerships and connections with other services play such a vital role. Knowing what services are available, where, enables our caseworkers to connect Wattle Place members with other services to meet the needs that Wattle Place is unable to meet, therefore offering a larger support network, which is vital for wellbeing.

The other side of that is that other services learn about Wattle Place and the support we can offer, which will complement and hopefully enhance the work they do.

This year, small teams from Wattle Place have visited Dubbo, Wollongong, Tamworth, Armidale, Glen Innes and Moree so far, with more visits planned through the rest of the year.

A bigger support network means better outcomes

On the recent trip to Tamworth, Armidale, Glen Innes and Moree, we met with a number of services in these towns.

Meeting with these organisations and services firsthand gives us the insight into how vital they are for the regions and the incredible amount of great work they do with very limited resources across large areas.

It is very impressive to see the variety of local services available in the regions to assist people with managing ongoing or day to day issues that they may struggle with. However, sometimes taking that first step to engage with a service can be overwhelming for someone who is impacted by trauma. Connecting service to service enhances our ability to make those “soft referrals”, as they are called, to connect members of the Wattle Place community with other services, so that they feel supported in seeking further support.

This works the other way as well, once organisations know about Wattle Place and the work we do, they can support people to seek our assistance if they could benefit from our services.

Below is a list of some of the community services we visited. We found these meeting incredibly valuable and have already established a working relationship with some of them.

We also had the opportunity to visit the Glen Innes Correctional Centre. This was an important connection as, unfortunately, many people impacted by childhood trauma can come into contact with Corrections services. People may not be aware that we can support people who are incarcerated. Many people who are in jail are eligible for our Forgotten Australian and/or Redress Support Services, but have no way of knowing about us. We therefore rely on staff working in Correctional centres being aware of our services and letting inmates know that we can assist them.

Especially now, with so many external pressures impacting many of us, we understand that it can be overwhelming, but it is important to know that many services, big and small exist to try and support anyone who needs it.  We have just highlighted a few of many, doing really vital work, all of whom are very passionate and committed to the people for whom they exist. As community service providers whose goal is to work with people to empower them to make positive changes in their lives, we recognise our role in facilitating that “wrap-around” service in order to optimise the benefits each of us provide. Working together, combining our knowledge and resources, provides the best chance for greater wellbeing for the people we work with.