What a Ride!!!

The ACT Recovery College Trial

Back at the beginning, I likened the ACT Recovery College trial’s progress with a roller coaster ride, where we held on for dear life and hoping against hope for the momentum to slow down - which of course it never really did. We have had an exhilarating, sometimes scary, sometimes exhausting, but always joyful ride over the last two years. But now as much as we are celebrating the success of the trial, I am extremely saddened to see the carriages slowly coming to a halt.

As a trial it was always going to have an end point, and that is the end of this term. So the College will close to the public at the end of May to allow final reports to be written and things to be wound up.

As the Manager of the Recovery College, I am incredibly grateful to all the people who have joined me on this journey – the staff, educators, students and Canberra community. You have all made the Recovery College trial the success that it is.

MHCC ACT, who hosted this trial, along with the Recovery College staff, put in a strong effort to find a way to continue the Recovery College without a break in service after the end of the trial but due to circumstances beyond our control, this just has not been possible. However MHCC ACT is will continue to advocate strongly for a permanent Recovery College in the ACT, including the Minister for Mental Health Emma Davidson.

We know that Recovery Colleges are tried and trusted, evidence-based services that have been shown to make a difference in many communities around the world, and during our trial we experienced first-hand so many positive outcomes for people in Canberra. The demand for our courses, which all filled quickly and often had waiting lists, shows that the Recovery College is not only desperately needed in the ACT but also filled a gap in available services with its unique model of recovery from mental health challenges.

“Love how we are all referred to as students rather than patients or clients like at other mental health providers. Makes you feel like a real person, helps you feel empowered and valued, not judged or less than for being at the College. The College is such a special place unlike anything else in Canberra - I hope it is able to continue so it can help more people and change and save lives. Such a gentle but powerful place.”

Student quote - End of year survey 2020

Naturally, Twisty, John, Mel and I are all saddened that we are unable to continue our work, but it is fantastic that we have been able to get people back in the College for our last term.

We are really enjoying hearing the murmur of voices and the laughter that often accompanies the discussions. When I look back on what we have done in such a short time, I am truly amazed at all we have accomplished.

During the Recovery College trial, we:

· Established a safe, non judgemental place for people to come and learn about and manage their recovery

· Were able to reach and assist a diverse range of students

· Held nearly 100 incidences of the 36 different courses (20 of which were developed by the College as part of the trial) available at the College, with another five courses currently being held this shortened last term. We have also held 8 seminars over the trial.

· As many of our courses are multiweek courses, this equates to 292 separate 3 hour sessions being held

I am particularly proud that we were able to resume courses in an online format within a week after COVID forced the College to shut down in the middle of term one 2020. This was due to a tremendous effort on the part of all the staff and educators to set up a system where we could continue the work that we loved doing whilst also keeping everyone involved safe.

“The College was so incredibly crucial to my recovery journey. The sense of belonging I felt by attending was what drew me to the College, then COVID hit and it felt like our world was falling apart. Having those Social calls on Zoom was like a breath of fresh air to reconnect with those who understood my day to day levels of anxiety before the pandemic. The staff at the College are all so wonderfully supportive and encouraging, it’s a real credit to the whole team and project” Student quote - End of year survey 2020

Lets celebrate the wonderful outcomes from this trial!

Official end of trial celebration

We will be having an official celebration of all we have accomplished. There will be afternoon tea and a speech by the Minister for Mental Health, Emma Davidson. This will be on:

Friday 4 June from 3 pm.

We are busily working out the logistics for this, so keep an eye out for an invitation with a link to Eventbrite, where you can register to attend.

Open week at the College

We will also be holding an open week at the College, similar to what we did for the official opening. The open week is the week before the official Celebration. You can drop in, have a cuppa, a chat and help us decorate the College for the celebration. The College will be open:

Tuesday 1st to Thursday 3rd June

10am -3 pm each day

How can I contribute to the Celebrations?

We have a number of things planned to for the Celebrations including:

· An Art Exhibition – details of this were sent out in April please see here for details.


· Lots of our logo printed out to create a “Bluebell chain” to decorate the College. We would like you to write a word or sentence on what the College has meant to you on them.

· A fingerprint tree, similar to the one at the official opening so that we can have a lasting reminder of all the people involved over the two years.

· A celebration book where you can leave a message of what the College meant to you, which we can give to the Minister.

We would be happy for you to drop in and contribute to decorating the College over the next few weeks, or if you are attending courses, please feel free to do something then.

We are all hoping that this will be a “see you all later” not a “farewell”

Regards, Dianna

“My experience as a student at the ACT Recovery College has been really humbling and positive. I have been encouraged to grow as a person in a relaxed and supportive peer setting and given the autonomy and respect that often I don't receive in the more medicalised model of mental health 'treatment'.” Student quote - End of year survey 2019

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