Posted by Vince Costantino on Nov 05, 2019
Rotary Club of Pinjarra member Rhoda Cope introduced Craig Waterman from Squared Away to the meeting.


Squared Away started around 12 months ago, in mid-2018, offering accommodation, support and guidance to men in the Peel region. The headquarters is an old two-storey building sited on a five-acre block with a therapy horse, chickens and abundant space for residents to kick a football, go for a walk or explore, located on Ronlyn Road, in Furnissdale. It is a first-of-its-kind charity offering transitional accommodation to men who are struggling with mental health issues, alcohol addiction, family problems and homelessness. Craig described this to his audience as a place which is striving to "repair broken men."

Since starting, Squared Away has assisted approximately 400 men;100 have been housed in that time, and currently 21are assisted with housing. Squared Away has access to 4 other properties in Mandurah, where homeless men are being housed, and from which assistance can be extended to them.
Craig advised the meeting that mens mental health, as an issue, is grossly understated in the community. It is rarely focussed on in the media, but it is a sad reality that many men die from lack of appropriate help becoming available to them in time. Funding from Government and other agencies to charites addressing "Men's Mental Health" is mostly non existent; Squared Away is self-funded.

Craig was accompanied to the meeting by Lynda Rees-Mogg who has a background is criminology, community service and work within the mental health sector.   Lynda left
the system dissatisfied observing that satisfactory outcomes for the recipients of various services were not being achieved.  Since joining Craig at Squared Away, Lynda believes that the charity's unique methods are delivering improvements to the clients.

Men who come to Squared Away are attempting to deal with a multitude of issues, varying from having difficulty dealing with the Child Support Agency, the Family Court, and the fall-out following being bound by Police or Restraining Orders. In addition, these men often are suffering from mental health problems. Their problems may be complicated by other isses such as alcoholism, drug abuse, or unemployment. The Charity attempts to start these men on working their way through the issues confronting them, particularly encouraging them to attend consultations with medical practitioners, and assisting their interactions with Government agencies. The initial problem the client is faced with can include the overwhelming sense of "there is so much going on, I can't see where to start."
Craig stated his organisation is not welfare oriented, but wellness based; the problem is addressed by identifying a pathway forward that can be followed, and therefore as men begin to recover their sense of "self", their mental health recovery also begins.
The goal is that once the man can recover his health, it follows that the family problems can also be addressed, and hopefully recover. However, there is no quick panacea, and the help needed is different for each client.

At the Ronlyn Road property, the clients have a large round table where all men can sit down relax and talk in a non-confrontational environment; where others have or are experiencing similar issues to one another.The men who get to the organisation are helped immediately, with Lynda’s experience helping to structure the type of help each individual needs.
When a man is served with either a Police Order or Restraining Order, he is often required to leave his home. As a result, he becomes homeless in an abrupt manner. The Mandurah Police are aware that Squared Away is secure option for these individuals, and direct them to attend the Ronlyn Road location so that their immediate need for shelter can be addressed.
Craig mentioned an anecdotal statistic that a surprising amount of shift workers at Alcoa "sleep homeless" in their vehicles because of circumstances such as these, to illustrate the extent of the problem in the Peel area.
Other charity organisations also request help from Squared away to house men who need assistance. In many cases, all the men need is a change in circumstance and help to get them on their feet. Unfortunately, a lack of funding has caused their organisation to refuse some men when they were needing help. With regard to family-related matters, there may be other problems that need to be addressed in addition to the mans issues. These issues include matters such as alcoholism, drug abuse, or unemployment, and regrettably, often include issues relating to family violence.

By analysing the overall situation a broader approach to the problem may identify other ways that could lead to improved outcomes. Community groups are often well placed to identify and assist with community-based problems such as a person noticing that his neighbour is struggling. Unfortunately, the Government services can be weight down with bureaucracy, which can bog down the process of intervention, and consequently, impede the individual's recovery.
Craig believes there is a need to improve communication within the community, with a focus on such activiites beginning with neighbours rebuilding conversation with one another.

Squared Away has some means of fund raising through a catering trailer used to assist firefighters and at other events. In addition they have a large ferryboat awaiting repair work to allow this to get up and running, so it can be hired out, thereby raising funds.
Squared Away is a registered Charity but is in need of more volunteers to ease the workload undertaken by too few volunteers. Craig noted that Rotary and Lions have both assisted  the organisation in a number of ways. Craig offered an open invitation for members to visit the Ronlyn Road property. He also reminded the meeting that their catering trailer is available for use if required.

While Craig was taking questions from the floor of the meeting, Rotarian Jack Ricks mentioned hearing on a recent ABC radio program that mental health issues in general costs Australia $500m per day, and  that there are 3000 suicides in Australia annually as a direct result of these issues.
Craig advised the meeting that it costs around $6500 per month to run the Squared Away recovery programs, which is achieved without any outside funding. Men housed at the group's residential locations do pay a small fee for their accomodation, and the catering trailer is used to raise funds. It is hoped that the ferryboat could provide a great opportunity to increase fund raising results in the future. Both Craig and Lynda’s families assist in the funding of the organisation.
Squared Away has a presence on Facebook:

Ray Cope thanked Craig and Lynda for their highly informative insight into how a major Australian problem is being addressed locally.