House debates

Thursday, 12 November 2020


Mackellar Electorate: Community of Calm

4:54 pm

Photo of Jason FalinskiJason Falinski (Mackellar, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise today to acknowledge the work done by the members of a local group on the Northern Beaches. This innovative and compassionate group is known as the TAPS Community of Calm. This volunteer group was first established to combat the silent mental health problems that plague our community. Mental health has been a growing concern on the Northern Beaches, with a rising number of practitioners and support groups required to support those dealing with anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions. The Community of Calm aims to increase awareness surrounding the impacts of stress and trauma on the body by teaching coping techniques through their programs.

The Community of Calm began in early 2019 with Jane Macnaught as the founder. Her intention was to stop the cycle of people suffering in silence on the Northern Beaches, reminding them help is just around the corner. Jane set up her private practice in Mona Vale in 2016. It was here that she brought together numerous passionate practitioners, developing a network of creative approaches to combat stress, grief and anxiety. Generously, Jane and her practice provide mental health training sessions for other local practitioners. To date, more than 90 practitioners have benefited from these training sessions, some specialising in yoga, dance, art therapy, mindfulness, counselling and nutrition.

The Community of Calm places a weighted focus on encouraging trauma awareness, not only for their own practitioners but also for those in the wider community. Being aware of the severe and often lasting impacts that complex trauma may have on an individual allows for increased understanding and support of an affected individual, which is why the TAPS group have included the five core principles of trauma-informed care and practice into their programs. These five core principles are safety, trustworthiness, choice, collaboration and empowerment. Jane has always worked alongside Mandy Loveday, and they both testify to the importance of movement in supporting mental health. The two attended trauma-sensitive yoga training in 2015. Mandy's client base tripled when she made more trauma-informed alterations to her own classes.

The TAPS group also runs the Arts for Wellness workshop. This initiative is led by Mandy herself. This program encourages the community to engage in wellness support. The Arts for Wellness workshop is a month-long program that takes place at Mona Vale and Manly. The program allows members of the community to sample creative and expressive activities and therapy sessions, all whilst relaxing and forming social connections. To quote Jane, 'It is so important for everyone to slow down a little and find some creative outlets as an alternative to other coping mechanisms.' I could not agree more.

Another noteworthy endeavour of the Community of Calm is their partnership with the Big Anxiety Festival, which is not a meeting of parliament but in fact the world's largest mental health and arts festival. In 2019, the festival focused on one central challenge: how do we cultivate empathy in place of stigma, fear and discrimination? The festival highlights the importance of using innovative and engaging tools to encourage Australians to seek help for mental health related issues. The most recent Australian Bureau of Statistics survey in 2017 estimated that 20.1 per cent of Australians have mental or behavioural conditions. The Arts for Wellness Workshop has divided its activities into four categories to suit people's personal preferences around relaxing: movement and rhythm; mood food and natural health; empathy and being heard; and, finally, self-expression.

I commend Jane Macnaught, Mandy Loveday and the entire TAPS Community of Calm team for their ongoing altruistic work, which continues to provide support for those impacted by poor mental health and dealing with mental illness. I thank them sincerely for establishing their proactive program.

House adjourned at 16:59

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Zimmerman) took the chair at 10:00.