A program which provides support to young people who live with a parent with mental illness will benefit from the Inaugural Menzies Alumni Community Leadership Grants, awarded in Sydney this week.
The small grants program, which encourages Menzies scholars to pursue their community leadership and volunteering activities, has been launched by the Menzies Foundation and its alumni. When Menzies Scholars are awarded their scholarship, it is based not only on leadership and academic excellence but also on their interest and experience in the service of others.
The Satellite Foundation in Melbourne is the only not for profit in Victoria which exclusively focuses on supporting children, young people and their families where a parent has a mental illness.
2004 Menzies Research Scholar in the Allied Health Sciences, Dr Kerry Proctor, who volunteers as a mentor with the Satellite Foundation, submitted the grant proposal for funds to help run a program called Satellite's Engaged Leaders for the Future (SELF).
The 12-month program for eight young people, will train participants (SELFies) in leadership, peer group facilitation, conflict resolution, teamwork and empathy-based communication. A current SELFie will co-lead the project. The young people will then be offered opportunities to work with Satellite as volunteers on programs for younger children and to be involved in every aspect of the organisation as young leaders and ambassadors.
Executive Director of Satellite Foundation, Rose Cuff, says living with a mental illness in the family can be very challenging for young people, but the ability to tap into their own wisdom and help each other can make a significant difference in their lives.
"When we give them the space to talk to each other about their difficulties, but also the things they've learnt, their enormous wisdom, and the potential that they have inside them to make a difference to other young people (and discover their potential as leaders), that can make a massive difference to their lives. It's very, very affirming for them."
Ms Cuff said the Foundation was thrilled to be able to run this program again with the support of the Menzies Alumni Community Leadership Grant.
Approximately 250,000 children in Victoria live in households where a parent has a mental illness.
Satellite Foundation is run by volunteers, many of whom work in health and mental health fields. The vision is that children, young people and their families become more resilient to the challenges of living with a mental illness.
Menzies Scholar, Dr Kerry Proctor, and Rose Cuff, the Executive Director of the Satellite Foundation, accepted the grant from the Menzies Alumni at their annual scholarship presentation. See the video of their thank you message to the Menzies Alumni.