Social Networks: Working Together the Other Way Around

Ms Amanda Akers1, Ms Cathy Faulkner1

1Cranplus Bush Support Services


Community-led actions creating social support to enhance social networks, or the other way around? This paper looks at ‘the other way around’. Starting with social connections, a Senior Aboriginal Health Worker, teamed up with a non-indigenous Clinical Psychologist to use their social networks, firstly with each other, and then with the broader communities, to create social support, resulting in community-led actions to enhance them. This qualitative reflection of the delivery of a series of CRANAPlus Bush Support Services workshops is a positive example of Working Together to close the gap in the area of mental health and also for the retention of Aboriginal Health Workers, whose numbers are not meeting the previous ratio to meet the increasing population. Qualities of the social connections are revealed and outcomes of this small team’s workshop delivery, enhancing social networks, resulting in community-led action, are presented, as are suggestions for improving the social and emotional well-being and retention of Aboriginal Health Workers.


Amanda Akers is a Clinical Psychologist who has worked in rural and outreach settings in Northern NSW in both public and private sectors. Amanda’s interest area is drug and alcohol issues, she also works with people suffering from trauma, anxiety, depression and other psychological problems. Amanda runs a private practice in Helensvale, QLD. Amanda also works with CRANAPlus Bush Support Services on a casual basis. She provides after-hours telephone counselling and supervision for remote area health workers. Amanda’s work with Bush Support Services includes running workshops on self-care, reflective practice, bullying, and presenting conference papers on rural and remote issues.


Cathy Faulkner is an Anaiwan woman who has worked for the health service for 21 years. In her current position she works with Aboriginal mothers and babies providing outreach services from Armidale to Walcha, Uralla, and Guyra. Cathy works with 2 midwives and a gynaecologist, assisting clients at high risk, with complex needs. Cathy is a Senior Aboriginal Health Worker who has the respect of her community as a result of her work, as well as running local activities. Cathy is a mother of 6 children and a grandmother of 14 grandchildren. She plays hockey and touch football and enjoys outdoor community involvement.