Matthew James knows all too well about the challenges that mental health can bring.
Mr James has assisted Macarthur’s Indigenous population as a mental health practisioner at the Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation for the past year.
The nurse leads Tharawal’s Byala team, which supports people struggling with mental health issues, or drug and alcohol-related problems.
Byala means “Let’s talk” in the local Dharawal Aboriginal language.
Mr James was rewarded for his dedication to the cause when he was named 2018 Australian Mental Health Nurse of the Year award late last month.
The Orangeville resident said he was nominated for the award by a Thawaral colleague.
“I’m stoked, it was really nice to get recognition at a national level,” he said.
Matthew always makes people feel comfortable… he is amazing.Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation team manager Tina Taylor
He received the honour at an Australian College of Mental Health Nurses seminar in Cairns.
Mr James, who has more than 20 years of industry experience, joined the Tharawal team in October 2017.
He said his role included providing counselling, diagnosis reviews and medication for Indigenous people
“There is a huge amount of disadvantage here in Macarthur and there are challenges, such as helping people with trauma issues,” he said.
Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation was formed in 1983 to provide medical and community health services to Indigenous people.
Mr James said Tharawal did a great job supporting Macarthur’s Indigenous community.
“Tharawal offers the leading Aboriginal health service in Australia,” he said.
“I am very proud of our work.”
Tharawal’s social and emotional well-being team manager Tina Taylor said Mr James was a great leader and compassionate with his clients.
“Matthew has brought a whole new dynamic to the team,” Ms Taylor said.
“He always makes people feel comfortable… he is amazing.”
For more information about these services, visit the Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation Airds Facebook page.