ON FIRE peer support program – South east and south west Sydney, Wagga Wagga, Newcastle

Programs for children and youth of parents with a mental illness (peer support and education programs)

ON FIRE is a strengths-based, peer support program offered under the auspices of the Schizophrenia Fellowship of NSW Inc.

The ON FIRE vision is for children and young people to flourish. The purpose of ON FIRE is to cultivate greater hope, resilience and wellbeing in children and young people aged 8-17 years whose parents or siblings have mental health issues.

Children (members) are referred to the program by various agencies including schools and health services. Children and families can also self-refer.

The program objectives of ON FIRE are for members to have fun, make friends, learn and grow, develop understanding about wellbeing, and make a positive difference in the community.

ON FIRE offers two main program activities.

  • REGULAR FUN DAYS occur throughout the year, offering participants the chance to meet new friends in similar family situations, have fun, and have a break.
  • TWO DAY CAMPS are run twice a year, combining fun activities, peer support, mental health and wellbeing groups, life skills and respite.

Each ON FIRE activity begins and ends at a central meeting point. It is the parents/guardians responsibility to organise transport for the participant to the meeting point before the activity and from the meeting point after the activity as ON FIRE staff cannot make these arrangements.

ON FIRE is a community comprised of paid workers, volunteers, the local community and most importantly the participants. ON FIRE encourages all the participants to have a say in the activities of the group, to ensure relevant activities are undertaken and ownership of the program rests with not only the workers, but with the participants and volunteers.

ON FIRE has been run on a voluntary basis at South East Sydney for ten years. Funding by the nib Foundation enabled ON FIRE to be piloted during 2011 at three further sites (South Western Sydney, Hunter and Wagga Wagga). ON FIRE is now funded by the Department of Social Services.

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For use by families where a parent has a mental illness, their supporters, and services who work with them.