Mindful Margaret River is a community group of volunteers who undertake local action to support good mental health and wellbeing in the Shire of Augusta Margaret River.

Mindful Margaret River works with local services, community groups and individuals to respond to community requests for mental wellbeing training, facilitated discussions in workplaces, awareness raising, and supporting community groups to build their wellbeing literacy.  Mindful Margaret River does not provide clinical mental health services to individuals and does not seek to replicate or replace any existing services. 

In essence, Mindful Margaret River is a local, sustainable, community response focused on supporting and building social capital in the Shire of Augusta Margaret River. 


How did Mindful Margaret River start?

Summary from The Beginnings of Mindful Margaret River: 2018-21, Notes on how and why Mindful Margaret River was created. (2021, May). Stuart Hicks AO

In 2018, the Lishman Health Foundation commissioned research work from the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health at the University of Newcastle.  This research was instigated as Lishman’s contribution to the mental health and wellbeing in the Shire of Augusta Margaret River. 

At the conclusion of the research, Mindful Margaret River arose from the need to ensure tangible benefits flow from both the “Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Shire of Augusta Margaret River” report commissioned by the Lishman Health Foundation and the GP Down South and WAPHA “Health and Community Services Mapping Project” prepared over 2018-19.

A few members of the Lishman Project Advisory Committee agreed to work together to form an alliance of community representatives, professional practitioners and key stakeholders in the Shire which might be in a position to respond pro-actively to the Lishman report and help guide a collaborative, co-ordinated response to the mental health and wellbeing challenges.

In 2019 the interim Taskforce composed of Stuart Hicks (Chair), Di Ritson (CEO of the Lishman Foundation), Andrew Ross and Stacey Hutt (Shire of Augusta Margaret River) worked hard to provide the leadership and meaning to the idea of a community alliance on mental health and wellbeing. There were few if any regional Australian models to be found. The proposed alliance was explored in detail whilst they met with countless individuals and institutions to enjoin their participation and trust in a collaborative response. This proposed community collaboration was not intended itself to attempt to provide mental health services. Rather, its fundamental contribution would be to improve linkages and communications in the area of mental health and wellbeing in the Shire. Locals talking to locals. Helping join people up. Helping overcome stigma. Modelling better mental health practices. Influencing options. Promoting discussions. Opening doors. Talking to policy makers.

In October 2019, the proposed Alliance was advertised for community volunteers to join a group.  Expecting a small response, the community applied in great numbers.  The interim Board invited a small number of volunteers to join the ‘Board’ which consisted of key local services, mental health professionals and community members.

All community volunteers were invited to join what they called the ‘Taskforce’—around 40 eager community members who were happy to be each assigned to one of four ‘Teams’. Each Team, under a Team Leader, was responsible to develop and pursue actions in relation to one of the four main themes that the Lishman Report identified, namely:

  • Access – to address community clarity about what mental health services and support are available, and how to access them,
  • Knowledge – to address inadequate community knowledge about good mental health practices,
  • Services – to address inadequate locally-available services, 
  • Collaboration – to address inadequate connections and inter-relationships between various mental health practitioners.
22 Feb 2020

The main planning workshop, bringing the four Teams together, facilitated with the help of the Mental Health Commission via the St John of God South West Community Alcohol and Drug Services, was held on 13 February 2020.   This Alliance was coined Mindful Margaret River.

With the first Australian cases of COVID-19 in March 2020, social separation requirements made it impossible to assemble the Taskforce in one place. At the same time, the need for the sort of community support Mindful Margaret River (MMR) had planned to give was rapidly increasing.

A special fund established by the Shire of Augusta Margaret River to provide COVID-specific support provided an opportunity for Mindful Margaret River to engage Pip Close as a counsellor to provide support to individuals who were suffering financial strains through the impact that COVID had on businesses and employment in the Shire. 

The Teams pushed on with their respective responsibilities within the shared strategic plan.  Voluntary team leaders, supported by the St John of God team and the Shire of Augusta Margaret River, helped coordinate and lead the teams.

Meantime, Mindful Margaret River was supported by the Shire in a submission to Lotterywest in a proposal which aligned with re-established Lotterywest criteria. Mindful Margaret River was pleased to receive a grant to pursue the strategic and business plan with the help of a paid Project Implementation Officer.

Mindful Margaret River was incorporated on 8 December 2020. The new Board comprised Miriam Avery (Deputy Chair), Martin Ringer (Secretary), Brian Middleton (Treasurer), Di Ritson, Dr Mike Wood, Dr Peter Durey and Stuart Hicks as Chair.  

In April 2021, the new Mindful Margaret River Project Implementation Officer, Erin Statz was employed as the sole paid employee of MMR.  On 1 July 2021, with the Board’s unanimous support Stuart passed the chair to Martin Ringer.

On the 12 August 2021, at the MMR Annual General Meeting, the members elected Martin Ringer as Chair, Miriam Avery as Deputy Chair, Mike Wood as Secretary, Brian Middleton as Treasurer and Marilyn Hopkin and Judith Maechler as ordinary Board members.

The membership also took part in the launch of the new nine teams format. To find out more about MMR current activities and priority areas see the Action Plan and Taskforce pages.  Community members are able to apply to become a member at any time.  Visit the Join Us page for more information.