Moriarty Foundation prioritises mental health

Indi Kindi wellbeing sessions

We have sprung into our first week of National Mental Health Month, and it is only fitting for us to talk about the steps the Moriarty Foundation takes to support staff and children with their mental health.

There are a range of ways the Moriarty Foundation works within communities. For instance, through the Indi Kindi early years program for children under five in remote Aboriginal communities, and the John Moriarty Football (JMF), a transformational skills mastery program for 6-16 year olds that uses football (soccer) for talent and positive change.

The approach to mental health for both programs includes a holistic wellbeing approach as they work within Indigenous communities, it is important to note the history of Trauma that Aboriginal people in Australia have gone through therefore mental health needs have to be met through a holistic lens.

According to the 2012-2013 Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (AATSIHS)*, almost one-third of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults reported feeling high or very high levels of psychological distress in the previous year. This is compared to one in five Australians experiencing a mental health illness.

Jamie Morriss, JMF Program Manager says, “Every JMF session either starts or concludes with regulated breathing exercises, as well as clench and release techniques. This is intended to be a progressive practice for each individual to improve their self-emotional regulation and learn practical techniques they can use when they are stressed.”

JMF breathing exercises
JMF players practicing pre-game breathing exercises

“Some of the schools we partner with also take the breathing activities into the classrooms, to support focus and calmness,” added Jamie. He also adds how JMF uses mindfulness techniques, such as mindful drawing, mindful walking and meditation.

Indi Kindi has a number of amazing approaches to mental health and wellbeing, stemming from staff training to the ways they deliver their lessons.

Fiona Hekking, Indi Kindi Early Learning Program Director, says, “The Indi Kindi team receives ongoing training to learn practical mental health first aid (MHFA) skills to make a real difference to people in the community by weaving a safety net of support.”

She mentions that through COVID-19 Indi Kindi team members were equipped with a mobile tablet device to enable further participation in MHFA training via online workshops.

“The series of workshops are based on a collective narrative therapy methodology, workshopping how to uncover stories of parenting skills, knowledge, beliefs and abilities to help reduce the influence of problems in their lives, promoting resilience and empowerment. The Indi Kindi team share stories and reflections, followed by home activities and ‘home yarning’ in between sessions,” added Fiona.

Indi Kindi mental health first aid training
Indi Kindi and JMF team members participating in a mental health ‘Tree of Life’ workshop

The Moriarty Foundation prioritises mental health and wellbeing through its programs and in the workplace. This is done by putting in place support systems for its teams, providing education and training, and delivering best practice and community-focused programs that address the needs and the challenges of the communities they operate in.

*Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2013). Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health survey: first results, Australia, 2012-13: Table 7 [data cube]. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics.

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