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Showcasing Kiribati’s ‘Te Meeria’ (Frangipani) Mental Health Service.
April 21, 2015
The Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop was warmly welcomed at the Kiribati’s mental health inpatient unit in March 2015. Ms. Bishop officially launched a project supported by DFAT which will see major construction work commence this year. One of the main benefits of the facility improvements will be a less restrictive and improved safe space for women staying at the inpatient mental health unit in Kiribati.
This project has evolved from long term mental health partnership between Kiribati and Australia. Medical Officer in Charge Dr. Mireta trained with St. Vincent’s Mental Health in 2006 through the POST program. Since January 2014, the Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) program (an Australian Government Initiative), key Kiribati Ministry of Health leaders and Asia Australia Mental Health (AAMH), have supported the sustainable development of mental health services in Kiribati. This innovative international partnership provided a solid foundation for service improvement and contributed to important developments in the mental health service system, allocation of resources and mental health promotion.
As part of the World Mental Health Day celebrations on 10th October 2014, the Kiribati mental health service was officially re-named ‘Te Meeria’ (meaning Frangipani), reflecting a more positive image of mental health in the community. The name was chosen by a mental health consumer living with schizophrenia as part of a naming competition, part of the initiative to engage community resources in mental health care… The event was a success with more than 500 community members and prominent Ministry, business and community leaders in attendance, helping to reduce stigma attached to mental illness in the Kiribati community.
The pioneering relationship between the DFAT program and Kiribati mental health leaders was a catalyst for change, bringing many partners to the table with resources and improved ways of thinking. AAMH supported the partnership in the capacity of an Australian Partner Organisation (APO), providing volunteer support, resources and networking opportunities to enhance local development.
Hon. Julie Bishop, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian Government with Dr. Mireta Noere, Medical Officer in Charge Te Meeria, Ministry of Health and Medical Services
Hon. Julie Bishop, Hon George Fraser, the Australian High Commissioner to Kiribati, Teatao Tiira, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health and Medical Services and Australian Aid program leaders enjoying the music performers at the inpatient unit.