9 September 2022

Griffith Aboriginal Medical Service welcomes two new mental health professionals

| Oliver Jacques
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Jack Lyons and Denise Marr in R U OK t-shirts

Jack Lyons and Denise Marr host an R U OK Day. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

While much is written about the chronic shortage of mental health professionals in regional areas, the Griffith Aboriginal Medical Service has some good news to report on that front.

This winter, the AMS recruited new social and emotional well-being officer Jack Lyons, and mental health trainee clinician Denise Marr. This means all vacancies at the popular service have now been filled.

Both were flying the flag for AMS at a free R U OK morning tea at Griffin Plaza on Thursday 8 September, where any member of the public could come along for a cuppa and a chat with them.

Mr Lyons is a Wiradjuri man who grew up in Narrandera and has just moved to Griffith from Wagga.

“I’ve always been passionate about mental health,” he said. “I worked in Koringal High School in Wagga and learned a lot about issues impacting our youth. The work is really rewarding.

“It’s nice to now live in Griffith, I love the food here.”

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As a star rugby league player for the Gundagai Tigers, he hasn’t spent many weekends in town. The prolific try scorer plays on the wing and has been a big part of a successful season. On Sunday 11 September, he will run onto the field for the grand final.

Mr Lyons will be on hand at the AMS for people who just need someone to talk to, for those who need assistance with accessing other services or programs within the AMS or assistance dealing with government bureaucracies.

Denise Marr commenced work with the AMS around the same time and is studying a bachelor of health science and mental health remotely via Charles Sturt University.

“I’ve worked in a lot of youth programs and in the court system, I can help people dealing with intergenerational trauma,” she said.

Mr Lyons and Ms Marr would like to see more funding for the mental health sector, given the higher than average suicide rates across the Riverina.

“I’d also like to see different services working together better … there are still a lot of people falling through the cracks,” Ms Marr said.

READ ALSO Guy Sebastian begins 500km walk from Wagga to Sydney for youth mental health

Given the struggle so many services have had attracting professionals to the Riverina, Griffith AMS CEO Stacey O’Hara is delighted to have Mr Lyons and Ms Marr working for her.

“It’s really good to have them on board, they bring great skills and experience,” she said.

The Griffith AMS is located at 38-42 Jondaryan Avenue. More information on the services they offer can be found on their website.

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