Our Programs

EVERY MIND MATTERS -Our programs are designed to bring the community together to support and improve mental health

Women’s Wellness Hub

We exist to promote the wellbeing of women through activities and programs that educate, support and provide meaningful connections for women. We partner with a number of other organisations throughout the year to run events for International Women’s Day, Women’s Health Week, Mental Health Month, Seniors Festival and also partner to offer a free Cafe Connect Barista Training program for women who are looking for work.

We are female focused, men and family friendly.

Bliss 2 Bless 

Bliss 2 Bless offers beautiful, relaxing weekly online sessions to release tiredness, stress and worries with Sheng Zhen Meditation. Women are invited to gift the body, heart and mind with precious wellness and happiness through these wonderful slow movements. Bliss out today to bless others tomorrow.

wellness hub

Get Cooking

Bliss to Bless

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Connect to life

Communities play a crucial role in suicide prevention as they help create greater awareness of suicide and suicide prevention, change the way suicide is understood and discussed in the community, and connects people to support services.

The impacts of suicide are immediate, far-reaching and last forever. They are felt by families, friends, work colleagues and the greater community

While not all suicides are preventable, increasing individual and community capacity and resilience, and supporting individuals and communities at risk to seek and receive help can reduce the number of people taking their lives.

As part of the NSW Strategic Framework for Suicide Prevention 2018-2023, The Women’s Shed Hills Shire under the auspices of Mind Connections Foundation is excited to receive the Hills Shire Council funding for 2021. The initiative plans to have a program where trained ambassadors bring together voices and perspectives of vulnerable members in the Hills Shire and outer suburbs. The program will provide opportunities and a better understanding of how suicide prevention services can better meet the community needs.

Mind Connections Foundation plans to provide regular MENTAL HEALTH FRIST AID COURSES to improve mental health literacy for a cohort of up to 20 members. The Foundation will provide the funding for mental health first aid course for prominent role models in the Hills community selected due to their demonstrated ability through leadership and business affiliations. The training will assist them to have an impact on their community. The expected outcome for the program is the prevention of suicides by reducing the stigma of mental illness and promoting early help-seeking behaviour in the Hills shire community.

If you are a community or business leader and are interested in participating in the Mental Health First Aid Course, please contact us.



Since its inception in 2011, the event has promoted mental wellbeing to create strong communities around the concept of ‘healthy mind and healthy life. That goal is as pertinent today as it was then. In addition, its goal is to reduce the stigma attached to mental illness and understanding that this stigma often prevents people from seeking help soon enough drives us to implement events that celebrate a holistic approach to wellbeing.

“Spread the word, and not the stigma” is our value proposition

Pawsitive Steps event is a community fun day with doges and families; The day starts with a walk to signify the importance of mental health.

We try to highlight the importance and association of dogs, the importance of nutrition and general health and wellbeing, enhance knowledge on mental health issues, create a family fun day and raise awareness by having a walk.

The Mind Connections Foundation works with Mental health, general health service providers, Government and NGO organisations, other health professionals, nutrition, various health food providers, yoga. The event includes Thai chi, dog shows, talks, information outlets, kids play areas—balloon man and many activities with Dog Clubs.

Community Social Responsibility; Invitations to sponsors, partners, stallholders

We invite private mental health and general health providers to be a part of the event to show your community social responsibility. In addition, you have a great opportunity to show your Brand and what you do the community. Your support for this event is vital to us to run our programs and it is you CSR the local community.

Please click here to see pawstive website and get the necessary information for sponsors, partners and stallholders


About Pawsitive

Pawsitive Steps 2019 brought an array of programs that not only delivered fun, fitness and health but also educated the public on some key challenges around mental health. Be part of an organisation that assists communities to remove the stigma of mental health.

Why Attend

The only festival that brings dogs and mental health together in a fun filled family day out.

  • Be part of a cause that understands the therapeutic nature of dogs and the love they have for us humans
  • Remove the stigma of mental health by attending a festival that activity promotes wellbeing and mindful training
  • Incredible and exciting day out for the family that includes a main stage, a playdome, dog arena and more.
Youth Program

The development of common mental health conditions occurs predominantly in adolescence to mid-20s, making these years critical for early intervention.

  • We aim to engage young people in a casual  environment to discuss about the prevention of the onset of anxiety, depression, and psychological distress.
  • Mental ill health starts at a young age
  • About three-quarters of common mental health problems emerge before the age of 25 years old.
  • Young people report high levels of symptoms of mental ill health
  • More than 40% of Year 12 students report symptoms of anxiety and depression higher than the normal range for their age group.
  • Young lives are being lost
  • In Australia, suicide is the leading cause of death for people aged 5-17 years old.

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Western Sydney University - Research Program

MCF is working with the Medical Faculty of Western Sydney University for research with fourth-year medical students to identify mental health needs in the community based on demographic data. The data are focused on identifying demographic areas, socio-economic factors most prevalent locally mental health issues. The outcome of research findings is going to be helpful to local Government and Federal Government’s commissioning bodies to provide more support to some geographical regions.


Promote the use of information on evidence-based research


Study geographical, social, economic data, and prevalence of mental illnesses in communities around us
Train undergraduate medical students on primary mental health research


  1. Provide information to Government and Commissioning bodies for necessary actions to support the most needed and vulnerable communities and age groups locally
  2. Consult with the Government authorities to support these needy communities

The Annual Mental Health Award Western Sydney University

In affiliation with the Mind Connections Specialist Health Services, Mind Connections Foundation has been proud to continue with this annual award in the School of Medicine curriculum since 2016 and commissioned $10,000/- prize money. Each year, 2nd-year medical students, faculty of Medicine, WSU enters the competition, and the highlight is addressing own mental health and wellbeing.

Every year, we hear news about young doctors ending their own lives. The demands of clinical work, post-graduate education and training must be balanced with life outside of medicine and is relevant to all health professionals, particularly young doctors. We have created this annual award to create awareness, encourage them to take control of their lives, seek help, and look after their fellow doctors.

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The Hills Mental Health Interagency (THMHIA)

The photograph below shows the founding members of THMHIA.

2012 March – photograph with founding members. Seated from left – Dr Michelle Byrne, Deputy mayor, Dr Padmini Howpage, Consultant Psychiatrist, Mrs Celia Pace. Standing from left – Mr Robert Craig, Dr Daya Howpage, Mr Chad Hookey


The Hills Mental Health Interagency (THMHIA) was established in the Hills Shire in June 2012 to fill a gap in the Hills community and people live in adjacent suburbs. Accessing local mental health services was a challenge due to a lack of information about service providers. In addition, service providers struggled to inform the community about their services in the opposing pole. To address this gap Dr Padmini Howpage, Consultant psychiatrist, joined forces with like-minded local mental health service providers and then the deputy Mayor Dr Michelle Byrne. Dr Howpage and Dr Byrne founded the organisation in 2012.

THMHIA aimed to establish a platform for service providers to network, and the potential was there for collaborative activities to promote Healthy Minds in the Hills Shire. THMHIA members are expected to become more effective in their service provision through the network, with the critical outcome of providing easier access to services within the community that need assistance.

THMHIA aims to work together as service providers and as an advocacy group to raise awareness about mental health issues and improve services for Mental Health in the Hills Shire and adjacent suburbs.

Our Goals

We goals:

  • Work collaboratively as services providers to the people of the Hills area.
  • Create awareness of services available and pathways to access those services.
  • Promote healthy minds through preventative and recovery-based initiatives.
  • Raise awareness of Mental Health issues impacting people in the Hills area.
  • Advocate collectively for Mental Health awareness to corporate & government bodies.

We will achieve goals by being inclusive. We will encourage active contributions by members of THMHIA through an intentional approach to sharing and supporting each other.

There are opportunities to:

  • Actively Learn from each other,
  • Identify service gaps & avoid duplications,
  • Identify how to reduce barriers to service provision,
  • Collective Representation (advocacy) on specific issues,
  • Cross-promotion of activities and services,
  • Thinking outside the square about mental health issues of our
  • community,
  • Understanding what each Service Provider does and what is out of their  scope of service so that referral is possible,
  • Collectively gaining input from and educating the public on Mental Health  matters,
  • Partnering to achieve funding support for programs,
  • Hosting guest speakers at THMHIA meetings to address needs.

Membership Guidelines 

  • Membership is open to all community organisations, service providers (government and non-government), and individuals passionate about improving mental health services and education in the Hills Shire Community.
  • Membership of the THMHIA will be granted to an organisation upon completing the membership application, and there is a fee associated with membership.
  • THMHIA official Members are permitted to display the THMHIA membership logo on their website and other marketing material.
  • THMHIA Members agrees to participate in THMHIA’s activities and subscribe to supporting the goals of the THMHIA as an interagency group serving the Hills community and adjacent suburbs.
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  • THMHIA Members are encouraged to display the THMHIA logo. It helps other organisations identify that you are willing to work collaboratively and actively provide and receive referrals to help solve the Hills areas mental health matters.
  • Guest attendance at THMHIA Meetings – Organisations and their representatives are permitted to attend THMHIA meetings without being members of THMHIA.
  • Meetings will be held quarterly unless otherwise agreed by the THMHIA members.
  • Members will rotate minute taking throughout the year. Should they be unable to  fulfil their duties for a specific meeting, they will organise a replacement before the meeting and advise the chairperson.
  • The Minute taker will email the minutes to the Chairperson two weeks after the meeting. The chairperson will distribute the minutes to the members one week before the next meeting.
  • Members are expected to participate in annual planning and review for the THMHIA.


  • THMHIA Chairperson is a volunteer role, and their authority includes the responsibility for representing the interests of the THMHIA publicly.
  • Whilst acting as Chairperson of the THMHIA, he/she must consider the overall interests of the THMHIA, its mission and goals above their own organisations’ goals, when making decisions that impact or involve other members.
  • The chairperson will serve to ensure consistency throughout the year. If the chairperson is unable to attend a meeting, she/he will
  • delegate responsibly for chairing the meeting to another member.
  • A member can serve as chairperson if there are no other parties to fulfil the role. Currently, the position is fulfilled by the chairperson of the Mind Connections Foundation.
  • The chairperson will act as a spokesperson if there is a need for public statements;  He/she should be sensitive to matters in the best interests of THMHIA membership, and ideally, in consultation with at least two other THMHIA members.
  • The chairperson will ensure that THMHIA subcommittee is formed from interested parties. The subcommittee will meet regularly to set tasks for the interagency and develop a strategic direction for the advancement of the interagency.

Collaborative Events & Grants 

  • For all THMHIA joint events and grants for activities that require funding, a  host organisation with proper Incorporation and insurance statuses will need to agree to bear primary responsibility and coordination of any event.
  • Where funding is required or grant applications are made for the collaborative project, the host organisation will need to agree to auspice the project grant and set up proper accounting to report on funds per the grant application.

Currently, Mind Connections Foundation is the auspicing organisation for THMHIA.

Risk Management

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  • THMHIA is not an incorporated body and does not carry Public Liability Insurances,  volunteer insurance, or appropriate fundraising approvals from the Dept of Gaming &  Racing.
  • THMHIA does not have a bank account to collect fees and grants.
  • Any organisation hosting an event/activity involving a person(s) outside of their  own organisation should ensure that they collect relevant insurance and risk  management material per their own organisation’s risk management and OHS  policies.
  • Any persons attending THMHIA meetings/events should ensure that they and their  organisation are adequately covered for their participation as a volunteer or paid  team member of their organisation/business,
  • Private Individuals attending THMHIA Meetings do so at their own risk, THMHIA membership cannot accept responsibility for an individual’s safety or welfare while attending a meeting.


  • THMHIA maintains a contact list and attendance register. Organisations are encouraged to complete this information to enable referral between services.
  • All persons attending a THMHIA meeting, including Individuals, must include their contact information on the attendance register at each meeting, as a risk management requirement, this information is collected for THMHIA risk management practices only.
  • The Contact List is distributed to THMHIA Members between meetings. Members who do not wish to have your information distributed to THMHIA members may request that the chairperson suppresses this information before it is distributed after each meeting.
  • THMHIA Members are not permitted to email the contact list to other parties. If you wish to pass the contact details of a member or member organisation on to another party, you must seek their permission first.

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Our Partners