Jacqui O'Loughlin headshot
Jacqui O’Loughlin/National Networks Program Team Leader
3 mins read·February 16th, 2021

Our network coordinators are ready for another year of engaging network meetings. Network meetings help break down professional isolation; and allow you to gain and share knowledge with your peers.

MHPN-supported networks are looking forward to planning and meeting online and face-to-face in the coming months according to local, state and national government directives for COVID-19 rules.

Interdisciplinary practitioner networks are a crucial part of the MHPN program. We know how important networks are to our participants for peer support; sustaining mental health and physical self-care; and sharing knowledge of local services and resources.

Our members’ health and wellbeing remain our highest priority. Due to the potential risks of COVID-19, networks are finding new and creative ways to meet in the context of physical distancing whether it’s an online or face-to-face meeting.

In some cases, networks are choosing to have every second meeting online or they are offering a ‘hybrid’ meeting where members attend a meeting both online and in-person.

Our project officers are here to support networks to meet any way they feel comfortable. If you are ready to attend or organise a network meeting, please visit our network search section.

We have compiled examples of upcoming and meetings held recently to give you inspiration for meeting this year.

Upcoming meetings

  • On 18 February, the Queensland-based Granite Belt Network is meeting for a hands-on art therapy session using collage: ‘Self-Expression Through Collage – Creating the Story of You’. Register now!
  • After a 12-month break, the Kew Perinatal MHPN is meeting face-to-face on 3 March. The network has two new coordinators, Robyn Ball and Lucy Bire, who will be discussing baby brain development in the first 12 months. Register now!

North Shore Internal Family Systems (IFS) Peer Group, Sydney NSW

  • The North Shore Internal Family Systems (IFS) Peer Group held their first 2021 meeting at a network member’s home.
  • Nine members enjoyed a festive lunch on the balcony with views of the bush and the ocean.
  • The meeting was entitled ‘Welcome 2021’ and it provided an opportunity for the members to reconnect and plan for 2021.
  • This network held eight online meetings during 2020, four of which were offered as hybrid meetings for those who wanted to attend in-person.

It was great to see this network meet after the easing of COVID-19 restrictions on Sydney’s north shore.

Woodend/Gisborne Network, VIC

The Woodend/Gisborne Network thought outside the box for its first 2021 meeting and organised an equine-assisted therapy session with Equine Insight on the outskirts of Melbourne. Founding principal Helen Shaw and colleague Fay McCormack facilitated an equine-assisted therapy session for seven members which included a psychiatrist, a community mental health nurse and a suicide prevention project officer.

This was a fantastic opportunity for hands-on learning and a simple way to practice physical distancing.

Sunshine Coast Expressive Arts Network, QLD

Last week, the Sunshine Coast Expressive Arts Network held a play-therapy session facilitated by Sabine Schroeder from Empatherapies and network coordinator Nicola Turschwell. Nicola reported that nine engaged and enthusiastic participants attended and “we all played”. “This involved things such as ‘jumping for joy, jiggling and playing chasies on paper’. As silly as this sounds, it is all actually very evidence-based practices of myofascial release; stress reduction breathwork, and activating of mirror neurons to connect. (None of that sounds as fun does it?)”

Alice Springs Mental Health Professionals Interagency Network, NT

The Alice Springs Mental Health Professionals Interagency Network usually meets six times a year and last year adopted online meetings while COVID-19 restrictions were in place. This network has decided to continue to meet online as more people attend online than at face-to-face meetings.

It’s an excellent example of how MHPN-supported Online Networks work to bring together practitioners in regional, rural and remote locations.

Casey Cardinia Family Violence Network, Melbourne VIC

The Casey Cardinia Family Violence Network held its third online meeting in six months on 1 February. Alison Krusec and Selma Ramic from Anglicare led this interactive session titled ‘Anglicare Beyond the Violence Program’.

They included network participants in the Acknowledgement of Country and asked participants to provide service updates of behalf of their organisations.

Network participants were involved in an activity where they draw a picture based on a series of instructions and the result was several different drawings. This powerful exercise demonstrated how information can be interpreted very differently between people.

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The Mental Health Professionals’ Network (MHPN) respectfully acknowledges the Wurundjeri and the Boon Wurrung people of the Kulin nation, the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the land on which our office is situated. We also acknowledge Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and pay our respects to their Elders past and present.