Counselling & Support Mon - Fri 9.30am - 5pm

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ARAFMI Hunter provides a range of high quality and holistic services that support individuals, couples, families, children and organisations.

We are a community managed charitable organisation working in partnership with mental health services to ensure our community understands and responds to the impact of mental illness on families, relatives and friends.

Model of Care

Our unique model of care encourages anyone who provides support to a person with a mental illness or disorder, to reach out and access our services – no diagnosis or referral required with access to unlimited counselling sessions. We will work in partnership with you for as long as you require.


Our accredited and professional counsellors understand the difficulties that mental health carers face and will respond with compassion and respect, and ensure you get the right care at the right time to meet your individual needs.

  • No cost, face to face counselling in a relaxed, safe and therapeutic environment
  • Remote telephone and Skype counselling, if you prefer
  • Assistance to navigate Hunter New England mental health services
  • Information on psychiatric illnesses


Attendance at workshops is via an expression of interest. To register your interest in attending a workshop call 02 4961 2842. We will confirm your availability to attend one week before the scheduled workshop.

Workshop costs: ARAFMI members $20, Non-members $30 (less $10 for concession holders).

Catering: Light lunch is included.

Eligibility: If you provide support to a person who lives with mental illness you are welcome to attend our subsidised workshops. If you are employed to provide support to a person who lives with mental illness, then please contact our office to enquire about workshops tailored to your professional requirements.

View workshops

Support Groups

Our support groups are a place where you can share and be supported by others who are having similar experiences. All our groups are attended by one of our counsellors. The person you support doesn’t have to have a mental health diagnosis or be a client of the hospital where the group is held for you to attend. Just choose the location and group type that best suits your support needs.

  • Borderline Personality Disorder Support Group: 22 Stewart Avenue, Hamilton East. 2nd Tuesday of the month, 6:30 – 8:30pm
    • 2018 dates: 13 February 2018, 13 March 2018, 10 April 2018, 8 May 2018, 12 June 2018, 10 July 2018, 14 August 2018, 11 September 2018, 9 October 2018, 13 November 2018, 11 December 2018.
  • Lakeside Carer Support Group: Lakeside Private Hospital, Warners Bay. 3rd Thursday of the month, 6:00 – 8:30pm (except March)
    • 2018 dates: 15 February 2018, 8 March 2018, 19 April 2018, 17 May 2018, 21 June 2018, 19 July 2018, 16 August 2018, 20 September 2018, 18 October 2018, 15 November 2018.
  • Maitland Carer and Family Support Group: Maitland Private Hospital. 1st Tuesday of the month 6:30 – 8:30pm
    • 2018 dates: 6 February 2018, 6 March 2018, 3 April 2018, 1 May 2018, 5 June 2018, 3 July 2018, 7 August 2018, 4 September 2018, 2 October 2018, 6 November 2018, 4 December 2018


  • Family Carer Connections: ISMHU James Fletcher Hospital, 72 Watt Street, Newcastle. Alternate Wednesday 5:30 – 6:30pm
    • Our counsellor attends ISMHU on alternate Wednesdays to provide support and information to families and carers of loved ones who are ISMHU participants.
  • Magistrates Tribunal Support, Calvery Mater Hospital, Edith Street and Platt Street, Waratah. Thursday mornings.
    • Our volunteers attend the Magistrates Tribunal each Thursday morning and provide support to families and carers whose loved ones are involved in a Hearing.

Telephone and Carer Support

You may feel overwhelmed and isolated by your caring role. If so, reach out, debrief and chat with our trained peer support workers, or alternatively you may wish to register to receive a weekly wellbeing call.

Community Partnerships

ARAFMI Hunter is  hosting Newcastle’s annual Mental Health Wellness Walk on Saturday 27th October  2018. The walk commences at 10am and concludes at Civic Park, Newcastle with a festival celebrating mental wellness through music, art and exercise. The designated meeting spot for the commencement of the walk is yet to be confirmed. We’ll keep you posted.

The aim of the walk is to bring our community together by raising awareness of mental health. The walk encourages all of us, whether we have experienced mental illness or not, to recognise the importance of looking after our mental health and wellbeing. Together as a community, we can stomp out stigma.

Visit the Mental Health Wellness Walk page

How to Access our Services

Call our support line on 02 4961 6717  to make a counselling appointment, chat with a peer support worker or register your interest in attending a workshop or support group.



Next 2 day workshop Friday 16 February and Friday 23 February 2018, 9:30 to 2:30pm

22 Stewart Avenue, Hamilton East

Assertiveness is the ability to express yourself without violating the rights of others while developing a more positive sense of self. This course will teach you practical assertiveness techniques that can help to:
•    Improve communication with family, friends and service providers;
•    Develop a positive frame of mind; and
•    Manage the caring role more effectively.


Monday 5 March 2018, 9:30 to 2:30pm, 1 day workshop

22 Stewart Avenue, Hamilton East

This one day workshop will help you make sense of BPD, show you how you can support someone with BPD, identify triggers, explore tips for coping and managing challenging behaviours. You will also learn about the importance of boundaries and self-care.


Monday 9 April 2018, 9:30 to 2:30pm, 1 day workshop

22 Stewart Avenue, Hamilton East

It would not be possible to enjoy healthy relationships without the existence of personal boundaries, or without our willingness to communicate them directly and honestly with others. In this workshop, you will learn to set healthy personal boundaries that support positive self-respect and self-worth.


Monday 12 November 2018, 9:30 to 2:30pm, 1 day workshop

22 Stewart Avenue, Hamilton East

Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and to not be overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. In this workshop, you will learn skills to be more present in the moment, to accept thoughts and emotions, and some useful practical exercises to take home.



Wednesdays from 2 May 2018 to 4 July 2018, 9:30 to 12:00pm, ½ day workshop over 10 weeks

22 Stewart Avenue, Hamilton East

This eight to ten-week program is designed to help carers move from ‘just coping’ to living better with the impact of mental illness while bringing the focus back on their own life journey, healing the hurts of the past and moving forward.

To attend this workshop, a referral from one of our Counsellors is required, and only one family member can attend at a time.


By arrangement

Venue to be determined

We can deliver bespoke educational workshops for organisations and their staff. To discuss your specific training requirements please contact our Operations Manager on 02 4961 2842.