Chermside Dietitian from Jacaranda Place Honoured with Super Hero Awards

A Chermside dietitian who works at Jacaranda Place has been honoured with the Super Hero Awards for her work, supporting young people needing guidance and structure due to complex mental health issues.

Children’s Health Queensland senior dietitian Ashleigh Hamilton was nominated by a 17-year-old Lily as she provided the teenager with endless support during Lily’s 10-month stay at the facility. 

With Ashleigh’s help, Lily has gained the right tools and the confidence to face the real world upon completion of her stay at Jacaranda Place. From the beginning, Ashleigh was able to establish trust with Lily as they tackled and worked through her needs. 

“The trust between them meant Lily felt she could tell Ashleigh anything and she would really listen and understand. This is what helped Lily reach her goals,” Amy, Lily’s aunt, said.

“Ashleigh gave her the tools. That’s why she was nominated. She just went above and beyond.”

Jacaranda Place opened in May as an “Australian-first centre” that gives young people a safe place to focus on their overall health. Lily worked with Ashleigh because her goal was to increase her diet choices. The Chermside dietician devised a way to introduce new types of food to Lily.

While Jacaranda Place is a new facility, Ashleigh has worked in the health and wellness industry for five years. She loves her job because she sees the positive outcomes. 

“In this kind of setting, we’re helping the young people so early in their journey. The goal is to prevent long-term chronic mental health issues. It’s nice to be able to see the change happening early on,” Ashleigh said. 

Jacaranda Place accepts referrals for their youth program (ages 13 to 18) from the Queensland mental health facility or a private psychiatrist, whilst there is also a day program for teens who are attending school but may require more intensive mental health intervention. 

Mental Health Facility for Young People to Open in April

Australia’s first-of-its-kind mental health extended treatment centre for young people located in Chermside is now complete and is slated to open its doors in April 2020.

The $27-million “Jacaranda Place” replaces the former Barrett Adolescent Centre and will provide a 12-bed residential service and a 10-place day program. Former residents of the Barrett Centre and families of former patients helped out with the design of the new facility and naming process, along with clinicians, educators and Traditional Owners.

“What happened after the Barrett Centre closed was an absolute tragedy which should never have happened,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said. The Premier, along with Minister for Health Steven Miles and Member for Stafford Dr Anthony Lynham visited the 12-bed adolescent mental health treatment centre last 14 February.

Mental Health Facility for Young People to Open in April

Photo credit: Annastacia Palaszczuk / 

 “I remember meeting with the families involved and being deeply moved by their stories, that’s why I made a commitment that we would build a new centre.

“I thank them for their time, their selflessness and their bravery in discussing what must have been times of terrible trial and suffering for them and their loved ones. Their input has been valuable, and will no doubt prove life-saving for future patients.

“I’m so proud to stand here today at the new Jacaranda Place which will ensure young people in need of mental health services get the very best possible care.”

The new facility, Health Minister Steven Miles said, will see upwards of 40 young people annually across both residential care and non-residential day programs. Education Minister Grace Grace, for her part, said that the young patients could still continue schooling whilst receiving treatment through the project’s partnership with Education Queensland.

“Recovering from mental illness can be hard enough, we needed to make sure we could build education supports around them so they can keep up their school-work and maintain those social links,” Ms Grace added.

Jacaranda Place is located on the campus of The Prince Charles Hospital and will deliver 24-hour service providing a safe, supportive, and structured environment for young people across Queensland.

The centre is designed to cater for young people aged 13 to 19, who are suffering from severe and complex mental illness with associated functional decline. However, young people up to 21 years old with developmental needs that are more effectively managed within an adolescent model, may also be treated at the centre.

“The name Jacaranda Place reflects the strength and resilience of the iconic Jacaranda Tree, which is considered by many as a symbol of wisdom, rebirth and good luck,” Children’s Health Queensland Chief Executive Frank Tracey explained.

“The Jacaranda is a hardy tree that can grow in difficult conditions, blooming once a year, when its true beauty is shown in full colour.

“This symbology connects nicely with the challenges and recovery journeys of the young people who will be cared for at the centre.”

Mental Health Facility for Young People to Open in April

Photo credit: Annastacia Palaszczuk / 

Jacaranda Place is accessible to young people who are:

  • Currently receiving treatment from a public child and youth mental health service or a private psychiatrist in Queensland.
  • Aged between 13 and 18 years (young people up to the age of 21 will be considered if developmentally appropriate).
  • Presenting with serious and complex mental health needs.
  • Not having their needs met in their current continuum of mental health care, education and social support, and less restrictive treatment options have been considered and explored.
  • Willing to consider engaging with a recovery model of care.