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$250,000 Grant to Help Communities Build Resilience

Phoenix Australia will expand its SOLAR initiative in regional and rural Victoria with a $250,000 grant from State Trustees Australia Foundation.

SOLAR, or Skills For Life Adjustment and Resilience, is an early intervention program designed to prevent the development of more serious psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder in the face of natural disasters like bushfires.

State Trustees CEO Matt Carrick said the project was a worthy recipient, promoting mental health and wellbeing in regional and rural Victoria.

“Victorian regional and rural communities have been hit by bushfires, drought, and now coronavirus. Training community leaders and health care workers to deliver SOLAR will significantly improve the mental health in their communities,” Carrick said.

“The program has been shown to help communities recover from disasters like bushfires. We know people in regional Victorian communities are tight knit communities who support one another through times of crisis. By investing in mental health programs now we can prevent more serious psychiatric disorders that often occur following disasters, such as depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder.”

For this grant round the State Trustees Australia Foundation was focussed on improving the wellbeing of Australians, noting that at least 45% of Australians will experience a mental illness during their lifetime and at least 20% of adults are affected by mental illness each year.

“We thank the generosity of individuals and the families who donated to the Foundation during their lifetime or as a gift in their will. This grant follows over $26 million which has been distributed to charities over the past 25 years,” Carrick said.

Professor Meaghan O’Donnell is the Head of Research at Phoenix Australia and explains that, “The SOLAR program has been developed by us in collaboration with other international experts in disaster mental health. It is based on the best evidence and has been tested with survivors of other disasters. We are excited to help improve the wellbeing of Victorians affected by bushfires, drought, and coronavirus.”

Ms Janine Kirk AM, Chair, Phoenix Australia said this grant will help regional and rural Victorian communities respond to recent setbacks.

“This initiative will support people’s wellbeing and resilience, which we know from our trauma research is essential to support recovery and renewal after disaster,” Kirk said.

“We are delighted to be working in partnership with the State Trustees Australia Foundation to assist communities in regional and rural Victoria.”

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