New $5 million facility aids families in tackling mental health difficulties

A new $5 million facility to help Victorian families tackle the challenging issues of mental health will be officially opened today.

La Trobe University is pleased to announce the official opening of the Bouverie Centre-Victoria's Family Institute, today at 4pm. The ceremony will celebrate the centre's new, permanent home, located at 8 Gardiner Street, Brunswick.

The Centre is part of La Trobe University's Faculty of Health Sciences and today's event will host a range of speakers, including Mrs. Sylvia Walton, Chancellor of La Trobe University, Ms Dassi Herszburg (who will be speaking on behalf of families who are current and past attendees of the Bouverie Centre), Dr Colin Riess, the Director of the Centre, and Professor Hal Swerissen, who is the Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at La Trobe University.

Today is an important milestone in the history of the The Bouverie Centre, which has been residing in temporary homes since 1983. Despite this, the Centre has built a national reputation as the founder and leader in providing family therapy, particularly in cases where there is a significant behavioural, emotional or mental health difficulty. The Centre also provides clinical programs over a number of specialist areas, including Acquired Brian Injury, and sexual abuse. The Bouverie Centre's community services team has implemented a range of successful workforce development initiatives in mental health, community health services, alcohol and drug services. More than 250 new families a year as assisted free of charge.

The Bouverie began its existence as the Bouverie St Clinic in 1956 a 'Child Guidance Clinic' with six specialist staff. By the mid 1970's the Centre ran a State-wide training course, before 'mainstreaming' with La Trobe University Faculty of Health Sciences in 1996.

Over the years, the Bouverie Centre has developed new ways of approaching the challenge of families dealing with mental health issues. The term "Family Sensitive Practice" was coined by the Centre's mental health team which has helped influence the attitude of many towards family development in mental health services.

The Bouverie Centre has an active academic program which includes 4 day introduction courses to family therapy; industry based graduate certificates, clinical masters and research PhDs. After joining La Trobe University the research component of Bouverie has grown.

Now, among many new initiatives, it is managing the implementation of the "Families where a Parent has a Mental Illness (FaPMI)" strategy supported by the Victorian Government's Department of Human Services.