Today, Shane Rattenbury, MLA, will join Vinnies staff, Compeer participants and volunteers to celebrate a decade of the program in the ACT.

Compeer matches volunteers in one-to-one friendship with a person with mental health issues.
The aim is to improve the quality of life and self-esteem of participants through social inclusion, enjoyable activities and the experience of mutual trust in a non-clinical setting.

Minister for Mental Health, Shane Rattenbury said as a community, it’s time we engaged with mental health differently.
“Rather than focusing on just the ‘problem’ of mental illness, we should also consider the resilience and strength that supporting each other can bring. Part of this means tackling the stigma around mental illness, as more people come forward to express their mental health needs,” Minister Rattenbury said. 

Originating in the US in 1973, Compeer started ten years ago in Canberra as a partnership between the St Vincent de Paul Society Canberra/Goulburn and the ACT Health Directorate. 

April* was matched with her friend 13 months ago and gushes about the positive improvements this has had on her life.
“It’s definitely helped me. Knowing that someone wants to spend time with me, that they’re not being paid to see me, and just having someone to talk to and spend time with. I’m much better now, in my health, than I was a year ago and that’s a large part due to my friend,” she said.

Over 270 people have been matched in friendships in Canberra since the program started.

“This program would not be so successful without our wonderful volunteers,” said John Feint, President of the St Vincent de Paul Society Canberra/Goulburn.
“These are people who genuinely want to make people’s lives better and so actively contribute to a friendship with someone who may otherwise be socially isolated due to their mental health.

“We’re so pleased our volunteers were acknowledged this year with winning the impressive ‘Thought and Leadership’ award at the 2019 Volunteering Awards Canberra Region,” said Mr Feint.

Terry* has been volunteering as a Compeer friend for about three years and intends to continue.

“It’s amazing how it becomes a true friendship. It starts off sort of like an arranged marriage, but it really does very quickly become a genuine friendship,” he said.
“It’s been great for me too – I got a new friend out of it!” said Lincoln*, another longtime Compeer friend. 

2 August 2019