Ballerrt Yeram-boo-ee service celebrates second birthdayZoe Simmons
On Monday 13 November in 2017, Forensicare’s Ballerrt Yeram-boo-ee forensic mental health service at the Ravenhall Correctional Centre welcomed its first two patients.
Now, two years on, we take the time to celebrate the achievements of our incredible team.
But what is Ballerrt Yeram-boo-ee?
Meaning “strong tomorrow” in the language of the local Wurundjeri people, Ballerrt Yeram-boo-ee is a 75-bed forensic mental health service, helping male prisoners with a mental illness at the Ravenhall Correctional Centre.
The service provides both inpatient and outpatient services for hundreds of prisoners each year, and at the time of construction, was the largest forensic mental health service in the southern hemisphere.
We help people.
In fact, we’ve helped over 1000 consumers at the Ravenhall Correctional Centre in the past two years with our inpatient and outpatient services.
We provide beds for people living with an acute or sub-acute mental illness, complex and challenging behaviours, as well as beds for those with a mental illness transitioning back into the community.
We also provide intensive case management, specialist consultation, at-risk and mobile crisis assessments, as well as specialist training mental health training to GEO Consortium staff.
“We look after most of the mentally unwell men in custody in Victoria,” Acting Operations Manager of Ballerrt Yeram-boo-ee Lee Towell said.
“Our team at Ravenhall is passionate about the work we do, and are strong advocates for the men in our care.”
“We strive for the best possible outcomes for our consumers and certainly make a positive difference in their lives.”
What our staff say about working with us
“It’s a very rewarding experience,” Tambo Program Manager Dani Ashley said.
An occupational therapist by trade, Dani says a big part of what prison-based mental health services do is to not only assist consumers in their recovery journey, but to prepare them for life outside prison, too.
“Our team does such great work in supporting consumers in their recovery journey,” Dani said.
“Some of our consumers haven’t always had the best experience of mental health care in the community, which is why it’s so important to provide a good experience here.”
Challenges and worthwhile rewards
Any new service will have its challenges: but those challenges are diminished when our consumers are able to reap the rewards.
“Our work is incredibly important,” Principal Psychologist Flora Gilbert said.
“At one end, we might be assisting to understand and stabilise someone who might be acutely unwell, and who may have had difficulty engaging in community mental health services.”
“At the other end, we might be supporting people with a mental illness who are struggling with the overwhelming prospect of being released after a long sentence.”
Flora says the sheer number of consumers who have been assisted by our services are a clear testament to the good, innovative work the Ballerrt Yeram-boo-ee team does.
“Our staff are extremely committed to caring for consumers, and finding ways to enhance their well-being.”
It’s that commitment, Flora says, that allows Forensicare to truly help its consumers–particularly those with complex and high-care needs that challenge our service delivery models.
“It requires collaboration, innovation and persistence. But it’s rewarding to see consumers progress in response to our interventions, and be able to develop a sense of confidence in being able to cope effectively with the adversity of prison life.”
“Especially when we can offer things that they might have never had available before, like neuropsychological assessments, a multi-disciplinary team approach to recovery, and a broader range of therapeutic interventions.”
A rewarding career and celebrating the little things
Dani Ashley says the most rewarding part of the job is when you see those small changes in consumers.
“Just this morning, I had a lovely experience of one of our consumers showing me a zucchini plant starting to grow from a seed they’d planted a few weeks ago,” she said.
“Seeing their pride in recovery–and in those small changes–reminds me of why I do what I do, and why it’s so important we help our consumers flourish and grow.”