More support for Canberrans experiencing emotional distress


The ACT will open its first Safe Haven tomorrow so Canberrans experiencing emotional distress, mental health concerns, isolation or loneliness can access support in a welcoming, community space.

Minister for Mental Health Emma Davidson said this is a new service in Canberra’s mental health system and where people can seek support in a warm, safe, and non-clinical space.

“The Safe Haven space will mean more access to mental health support in the community in a non-clinical environment. It will support people before they reach crisis point and offer an important alternative to the Emergency Department," Minister Davidson said.

“I’m really excited about the Safe Haven’s focus on a peer worker model, to provide a familiar, understanding ear to people who may be going through a challenging time and need to talk through their emotional or mental health distress.

“People will be able to visit the Safe Haven and speak with peer workers who can offer them support in managing their distress. It is not just for people with mental health conditions but is available to all Canberrans aged 16 and over, including people in caring roles, who may be facing some challenges and additional stress in their lives.

“It’s important that people have access to services and environments which best support their needs. The Safe Haven space will play an important role supporting people before they reach a crisis point."

The ACT’s Safe Haven pilot model was developed using a comprehensive co-design approach, resulting in a service that a provides a strengths-focused recovery framework.

“This service has a strong human-centred approach and has been guided by people with lived experience, peak mental health organisations, carers, community representatives and emergency department clinicians,” Minister Davidson said.

“Their contributions and insights have been critical to ensure Canberrans have alternative pathways to support when they are experiencing distress.”

Stride, who has extensive experience across the country delivering mental health support, will operate the service. They currently deliver two safe spaces in New South Wales.

The Safe Haven at the Belconnen Community Health Centre is a 12-month pilot program, and it will initially be open 4.30pm to 9pm, Tuesday to Saturday.

Quotes attributable to Juliet Middleton, Stride, General Manager Community and Residential:

“Stride is delighted to be working with ACT Health and Capital Health Network to deliver Canberra’s first Safe Haven.  We have a strong track record in the delivery of safe havens and are excited to be working with the local community partners.”

Quotes attributable to Megan Cahill, CEO of Capital Health Network, ACT’s Primary Health Network:

“Safe Haven is an important step in bringing to life the five-year integrated ACT Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan.  Safe Haven is the first new service to come out of the ACT Plan, and has been a joint venture between ACT Health and CHN.  The co-design process has ensured it is person-centred and integrated with other new services which offer mental health assessment and treatment, including the new Head to Health Pop Up Clinic at Deakin.  Safe Haven will provide a safe space for people experiencing high levels of distress and if needed, help to connect them to other services through a warm referral.”