ConnectGroups is the WA Peak body for Support Groups in WA. Its purpose is to connect community through sustaining a peer Support Group sector which combats isolation and gives hope for the future. The diversity of its member Support Groups provides valuable insight into areas where individuals, families or communities are falling through gaps in existing services and contributes to Government reforms and strategies to ensure inclusive and empowered communities.
ConnectGroups contributes to strong families, safe children, empowered people, and inclusive and accessible communities across WA by:
- Providing sector development opportunities to build the capability of the Support Group sector. The service model is founded on strengths–based practice and asset-based community development;
- Increasing access to pathways to build new networks, partnerships, collaboration, and collective impact between the Support Group sector, Government, non-government and the broader community;
- Building the competencies of individuals, families, and carers engaged with the Support Group sector;
- Conducting research and consulting the sector in order to identify trends, emerging issues and priority areas;
- Advocating for and raising awareness of the issues confronting Support Groups and empowering them with a sense of agency.
ConnectGroups responds to gaps in the health and mental health landscape to drive innovation and improvements to address those gaps. The organisation applies a co-design philosophy across all services to ensure currency and relevancy for those accessing its services.
ConnectGroups manages two small grants program which promote mental health and operate to build upstream protective factors.
The Dream it Forward Program is a healing-focused program which positively impacts the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait families and communities by strengthening and activating culture and promoting protective factors against mental distress. Dream it Forward is community-led and fosters a decolonising approach to community engagement. Place and strengths-based solutions re-engage community, strengthen cultural identity, give community a voice in their own healing, and disrupt risk factors. The model has been operating since 2014, is delivered as a partnership with community and supports a range of methodologies to increase community protection. Dream it Forward has recently been endorsed by the Centre of Best Practice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention (CBPATSISP).
The Pay it Forward Plan is a mental health-focused initiative supporting the community-based mental health service provision of peer Support Groups in WA since 2011. In that time, more than 220 projects have been awarded to over 140 Support Groups building peer support capacity, strengthening service delivery, interdicting risk, and promoting good mental health and mental health recovery. Pay it Forward also supports a workforce development component to empower and qualify peer Support Group leaders in community services and mental health, contributing to workforce capacity in those sectors. Pay it Forward is a unique opportunity for mental health-focused peer Support Groups to secure small grants funding to encourage their sustainability, to support the mental health journey of their members, and to upskill. By promoting best practice at every stage, Pay it Forward demonstrate that limited funds can lead to exceptional outcomes.