Kimberley service helps Raph ‘back to country’

2 November 2017

Before Raphael Hunter accessed help from his local mental health service, he had stopped all his connections to country.

Aboriginal man displaying artwork
Broome man Raph Hunter with artworks, including mental health centre mural

Instead of going out fishing, hunting, teaching language to young ones and spending time with his family as he had enjoyed doing since he was a kid, the now 45-year-old Broome man, as he puts it, stayed home and ‘looked at four walls’.

Raph, as some people know him, had developed schizophrenia and found it difficult to leave the house.

But someone put him in touch with the Kimberley Mental Health and Drug Service (KMHDS), and they started to visit Raph at home to support him.

That was about 10 years ago, according to Raph, and now his life is vastly different.

As well as getting the appropriate care to help him manage his mental health condition, Raph has supports in place to monitor his physical health needs and social support.

Most days Raph has some sort of meaningful activity to take part in, largely centred on his close relationship with his Aboriginal Mental Health Worker and the Broome Community Recovery Centre.

Delivered through KMHDS, the recovery centre provides a network of mental health support, encouraging individuals and local services to engage in community-focused recovery programs and activities.

Raph can be found there drawing Indigenous designs on paintings, shirts and table runners, or participating in the weekly Men’s Group.

“The recovery centre is calming for me, I relax and get a bit of fresh air,” he says.

“It keeps my mind occupied; otherwise, I get stuck at home thinking and it brings back memories.

“It can make you crazy looking at four walls,” he jokes.

He has a message for other Aboriginal people who might be reluctant to access mental health programs due to shame or fear.

“Don’t avoid your problem, talk about your problem, don’t let it get caught up in your mind,” he says.