How to improve your mental health: 5 things you can do for your wellbeing!

Taking care of your physical, emotional and mental health is fundamental to improving the overall quality of your life.

However, mental health care can easily be neglected or misinterpreted as a luxury instead of the necessity it actually is. No two people are the same and not all issues can be solved with a few self-caring practices, but implementing these changes into your daily routine can help strengthen your overall mental health. In recognition of Mental Health Week, here are the day-to-day practices you can use to improve your mental wellbeing.

1. Look after your body

Exercise is as important for mental health as it is for physical health. Whether it is a strenuous High Intensity Interval Training session at your local gym or a morning stroll around your neighbourhood, exercise promotes the release of feel-good chemicals like endorphins and serotonin. According to Beyond Blue, studies have demonstrated that exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as therapy and medication. A study conducted by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health revealed that going for a 15 minute run or hour long walk daily reduces the risk of major depression by 26%. Additionally, even five minutes of cardio or aerobic exercise can begin to reduce anxiety, as discovered by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA). Finding a sport you enjoy, inviting a friend along and incorporating it into your daily routine are achievable changes you can make to better your mental health.

2. Check in with yourself

Pay attention to your mind and body, ask yourself; do I have less energy than I used to? Or, have I lost interest in everything I used to be passionate about?

Putting time aside for yourself is an important way to keep control of your mental health. In order to change behavioural patterns and emotions, it is essential to identify negative thinking patterns. Certain apps for mindfulness such as What’s Up and IMoodJournal can help you keep track of your wellbeing, habits and moods. Even journaling can help you both express and reflect on your own state of mind. Familiarising yourself with your body and mind can help you be self-aware and susceptible to the changes in your moods and behaviour.

3. Focus on building healthy, supportive relationships

Having a healthy support network is an essential way to create a sense of wellbeing. Strong interpersonal relationships are important as they give us a sense of purpose and belonging while also reinforcing that we are not alone during difficult times. A study conducted by SANE Research conveyed that almost 90% of respondents believed social relationships to be ‘important’ or ‘very important’ in regard to the management of their mental health. Talking to friends and family is a useful way to recount what has happened throughout your day and share what is going on in your mind. Asking for help from family members and friends is a strength, not a sign of weakness. There is no shame in asking for help as being open and honest about your mental health is a great way to improve it.

4. Prioritise your sleep

Sleep is commonly regarded as one of the most important things for a person’s mental and physical health. Someone’s mood can be directly dependent on the quality of their sleep. A long and deep sleep can leave you feeling refreshed whereas a low quality sleep can cause a lack of concentration, irritability, and even increased anxiety and depression. According to Principle Research Scientist at NeuRA, Associate Professor Danny Eckert, “sleep directly impacts mental health and in the long term inadequate sleep increases the risk of developing depression, anxiety disorder, and burnt out”. The National Sleep Foundation recommends around 7-9 hours of restful sleep each night. To achieve this, a regular bedtime and waking time are paramount, along with avoiding electronic screens and stimulants, such as caffeine, before bed. A dark, cool and quiet bedroom also creates a more sleep-friendly environment.

5. Do something you love

Research indicates that those with hobbies are less likely to suffer from stress and depression. Participating in a creative activity you enjoy expands your brain’s neural connections, which can release feel-good hormones such as dopamine. As neuroscientist Dr Daniel Levitin told Brit + Co, creative hobbies “are the perfect antidote to high-stress jobs of multitasking and computer-based work,” as they “hit the reset button in the brain, replenishing neurochemicals in the brain that have been depleted by a few hours of high-stress work”. Having a hobby you are passionate about can improve confidence, self-esteem, and overall wellbeing, so don’t forget to take some time out each day to do something you love.


Sonya Rankine | Our Mob Emerging Artist 2019

Ngarrindjeri, Nurungga, Ngadjuri woman Sonya Rankine was announced the winner of the $5,000 Don Dunstan Foundation Our Mob Emerging Artist Prize during the 2019 OUR MOB opening at Adelaide Festival Centre on Thursday 22 August.

“My weaving is about reviving and maintaining culture and the tradition of Ngarrindjeri weaving through creating contemporary Aboriginal art.”

Sonya Rankine

Pictured: DDF Board member, Sonia Waters, and prize winner, Sonya Rankine (Photo credit: Ron Searcy)

Our Mob Art Prize – 2019 Winner

2019 Emerging Artist prize winner announced

Ngarrindjeri, Nurungga, Ngadjuri woman Sonya Rankine was announced the winner of the $5,000 Don Dunstan Foundation Our Mob Emerging Artist Prize during the 2019 OUR MOB opening at Adelaide Festival Centre this evening.

The prize win will allow the 49 year old Moonta Bay resident to invest in her business, Lakun Mara (meaning Weaving Hand), which focuses on the revival and maintenance of traditional Ngarrindjeri weaving techniques and cultural practice.

Sonya impressed the judges with her sculptures, titled ‘Lakun Mara 13 – Pinyali Pempandawi (Emu Basket)’ and ‘Lakun Mara 14 – Partar Pempandawi (Rock Basket)’ made from jacaranda stalks, beach stone, waxed linen thread, palm inflorescence, and emu feathers.

Sonya Rankine: “I’ve been weaving for 25 years. I first learnt from Aunty Ellen Trevorrow, the traditional Ngarrindjeri technique using reeds from the Coorong. Since then I have continued to have a strong cultural interest and passion for weaving. This was strengthened by attending the 2019 National Basketry Gathering delivering a workshop and learning many more styles to incorporate.

“My weaving is about reviving and maintaining culture and the tradition of Ngarrindjeri weaving through creating contemporary Aboriginal art.”
Two other prizes were awarded on the night: the Country Arts SA Professional Development Initiative Award, won by 42 year old Rowena Williams of Coober Pedy; and the Ku Arts OUR YOUNG MOB Award, won by 18 year old Leshaye Swan of Adelaide.

The 2019 OUR MOB program features three free exhibitions: OUR MOB, works by South Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists; OUR YOUNG MOB, works by Aboriginal artists 18 years and under and the Don Dunstan Foundation Prize Showcase, produced by last year’s Emerging Artist Award recipient Tony Wilson.

Douglas Gautier AM, Adelaide Festival Centre CEO & Artistic Director: “For fourteen years, OUR MOB has supported art practices of numerous First Nations artists throughout South Australia.

“What began as a survey of visual art is now one of our most important annual programs, bringing artists, industry partners, and arts organisations from all over the state together in a celebration of art and community.

“We congratulate this year’s winners and look forward to celebrating their success for years to come.”

Adelaide Festival Centre gratefully acknowledges ongoing partnerships with Ku Arts and Culture Aboriginal Corporation and SICAD; Country Arts SA; The Don Dunstan Foundation; TARNANTHI: Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art; and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and culture centre managers and coordinators across South Australia.

Prize winning artworks can be seen here.

IGH Report Launched

Institute of Global Homelessness Report Launched

As you may remember, the Adelaide Zero Project hosted Dame Louise Casey, a leading UK International Homelessness expert from the Institute of Global Homelessness, in September last year.

As an outcome of this visit, Dame Louise has produced a report urging Adelaide to become more flexible in providing support to the city’s most vulnerable rough sleepers.

The report contains 28 recommendations to the Adelaide Zero Project partners and stakeholders to achieve and sustain Functional Zero homelessness in the City of Adelaide by the end of 2020.

They include:

  • Increasing the supply of housing options through a range of efforts
  • Boosting the investment in Adelaide Zero Project’s ‘backbone’ work
  • Investing in early intervention work to prevent homelessness
  • Investigating the creation of a centralised Hub of essential front line services
  • Addressing the fact that Adelaide’s homelessness system does not currently meet the cultural needs of Aboriginal people sleeping rough

Since Connections Week in May last year, 108 people on the By-Name List have been supported into secure housing, a phenomenal achievement.

However, we still have a big task ahead of us; tonight over 100 people will still be sleeping rough on the streets and Parklands of our city. Our latest data is available here.

This report sets an ambitious range of recommendations for Adelaide that we need to take action on if we are to achieve the goal of Functional Zero street homelessness in the inner city.

Thank you to the many organisations who took the time to meet with Dame Louise Casey during her visit. We look forward to working collaboratively to turn these recommendations into action and achieve Functional Zero street homelessness.

Read the Support Visit Review Report.

Millennials key to SA becoming a global pioneer in the Purpose Economy

Internationally recognised social entrepreneur Suzi Sosa has identified attracting and retaining millennials, as a crucial move for South Australia to grow the Purpose Economy.

Ms Sosa, the co-founder and CEO of Verb, a global social enterprise based in Adelaide’s sister city, Austin, Texas, has handed down recommendations as part of her ‘Thinker’ role for the Don Dunstan Foundation’s Adelaide Thinkers in Residence Program.

“There’s a lot of discussion about brain drain of young talented minds out of South Australia,” Ms Sosa says.

“Young people leaving the State shouldn’t be viewed as a problem – in fact, this is a good thing. It’s a problem if they don’t come back or South Australia can’t attract new talent.”

Millennials represent about 40 per cent of the workforce and expect their employers to show greater social responsibility.

“They are having a major impact and demanding strong leadership, mentors, low-cost and attractive living options, as well as access to capital,” Ms Sosa says.

Suzi Sosa’s Pathways to Global Leadership in the Purpose Economy: Recommendations for South Australia include:

  • Millennials are crucial to the Purpose Economy. South Australia needs to stem the millennial brain drain. If South Australia wants to retain its millennial population and attract new talent, it will need to have a more supportive culture and infrastructure for millennials.
  • Further develop Social Entrepreneurship programs alongside the current entrepreneurial ecosystem to offer new employment opportunities that align with millennials’ values and priorities.
  • Universities have a key role to play in supporting industries to understand the needs and values of millennials through more innovative approaches to work-integrated learning.
  • Support more mentoring programs and knowledge exchanges with millennials and industry.
  • Develop a strategy for attracting more millennials to start business in SA, for retaining millennials and for encouraging others to return.

“With the Purpose Economy, the fastest job creating part of the South Australian economy, export opportunities need to be considered where solutions to local challenges have already been identified,” Ms Sosa says.

“It’s important the State works more closely with industries already aligned with social impact such as healthcare, renewable energy, education and the creative industries” she says.

“Also, education providers should be encouraged to strengthen students’ connection to social impact including providing more social entrepreneurship content in the high school curriculum. This will prepare them for a future workforce that will place a much higher premium on purpose.”

South Australia has been trialling a new Entrepreneur Visa program where foreign entrepreneurs and investors can bring their business venture to the State. Under the Federal Government initiative, which will be rolled out nationally in 2019, applicants don’t need capital backing.

Foreign investors will become eligible to apply for permanent residency if their business in Australia is successful.

“Governments need to consider how it can better use incentives, such as financial support and government procurement, to support early stage and purpose-driven business,” Ms Sosa says.

“The Purpose Economy should be declared as a key pillar in the State Government’s economic strategy for South Australia.”

Read the report: Pathways to Global Leadership in the Purpose Economy: Recommendations for South Australia.

The Don Dunstan Foundation has partnered with the university, business, public and community sectors to deliver the Adelaide ‘Thinkers in Residence’ Program which is focusing on growing jobs in the purpose economy.


Dunstan News December 2018

Read our latest news


SA Urged to Embrace Co-Op Model to Fix Aged Care and Disability Worker Shortages

Dr Guy Turnbull 2018

Pro Bono Australia | Luke Michael 5 December 2018

South Australia should embrace the cooperative business model to fix problems in the state’s care sector, according to a leading UK social entrepreneur.

Dr Guy Turnbull, EY’s UK Entrepreneur of the Year in 2017, has been in Australia sharing his expertise in applying the cooperative model to the social care workforce.

Moving forward to reduce Indigenous unemployment in SA

In a push to encourage greater Indigenous participation in South Australia’s workforce, local businesses are being called upon to create more job opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The unemployment rate for Indigenous South Australians is at 22 per cent, compared to 6.2 per cent for non-Indigenous South Australians.

The Don Dunstan Foundation in partnership with the Governors Leadership Foundation Program has released the findings of a new report – ‘Increasing Aboriginal Participation in the South Australian Economy’, to identify innovative ways to close this employment gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

Don Dunstan Foundation Executive Director David Pearson says we can all do more to close this gap, many organisations want to help, but often haven’t known where to start.

This report, prepared by a Governors Leadership Foundation Program participants, sets out options for how all of us can help.

“It’s important to remember that Indigenous South Australians hold the key in leading this process. They understand the issues and their ongoing engagement is critical to achieving more job opportunities.”

The report’s range of solutions include:

  • Support the Indigenuity SA Aboriginal Business Expo
  • Promote the Implementation of Reconciliation Action Plans
  • Consider how procurement can be used to provide more employment opportunities including review Government tender processes for unintentional bias
  • Engage a Thinker In Residence to stimulate the better coordination of Aboriginal Economic Participation activities in South Australia
  • Establish regional workshops connecting schools with businesses and service providers.
  • Support Indigenous entrepreneurs though an Indigenous Business Hub
  • Create networking opportunities for Aboriginal businesses to engage and learn from each other
  • Create an Arts Industry Cluster in the Aboriginal Industry Cluster Program
  • Monitor the number and value of Federal Government contracts awarded to Indigenous suppliers

The Don Dunstan Foundation and a number of other organisations have already begun implementing many of the recommendations.

Earlier in the year, the Foundation hosted an Aboriginal Entrepreneurship Forum which showcased a number of indigenous businesses.

“It was about bringing together government, private sector and industry representatives to explore opportunities on how resources can be pooled to have a more coordinated impact in increasing Aboriginal economic participation,” Mr Pearson says.

Red Centre Enterprises CEO Nadia Matko says indigenous history and culture play an important part in creating exciting new opportunities.

“We’re about to launch two new social enterprise cafés focussed on native foods – one at Tandanya and one in Gawler, with each site creating employment opportunities for 20 people,” she says.

The cafes will also be supported by a catering division with staff receiving hospitality training as well as training in native foods and aboriginal culture.

“There’s a lot of exciting things happening in terms of celebrating the Kaurna community and taking ‘bush’ foods from the land to the community.”

Other action already undertaken from this report includes the extension of the Governor’s Aboriginal Employment Industry Cluster Program to include South Australia’s arts and culture industry.

The Cluster is chaired by Adelaide Fringe Director and CEO Heather Croall who says it’s all about reaching out to local arts organisations to create immediate employment and training opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“Arts opportunities should be highlighted in education and employment and prioritised, just as much as STEM opportunities,” she says.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has revealed job location, discrimination in the workforce and change in the labour market are the key factors in Indigenous Australians finding work.

The report was commissioned by the Don Dunstan Foundation and researched by participants in the 2017 Governors Leadership Foundation Program.

For more information:


FOR ENQUIRIES OR TO ARRANGE INTERVIEWS CONTACT: The Message Bureau on 8223 7703 or 0419 754 564


Adelaide’s ‘Thinker in Residence’ behind new community care

MEDIA RELEASE: Wednesday 13 November 2018

The Don Dunstan Foundation’s ‘Thinker in Residence’ Dr Guy Turnbull is on a mission for South Australia to embrace the co-operative business model in the state’s care sector.

The recent UK Entrepreneur of the Year recipient, recognised for successfully opening social franchises (or co-operatives) abroad in the care industry, is behind an Adelaide pilot to link local GPs and allied health providers with a co-operative of home care staff.

“We’re connecting and working together with GPs to reduce both the number of people being admitted to hospital because there isn’t adequate community care and to have them discharged more rapidly,” Dr Turnbull says.

“It’s all about delivering higher-quality care by employees that are better engaged in what they do because they are working as part of a co-operative,” he says.

“There is no greater way to engage an employee and deliver superior outcomes than to make them an owner of the organisation that they work for – this is why the employee ownership and co-operative business models are thriving.”

One of Australia’s first worker-owned co-ops, home care provider – The Co-operative Life (TCL), based in Sydney, will be part of the pilot which is due to commence in early 2019.

“South Australia is yet to have an established and registered co-operative urgent home care provider and if we move quickly, the state can become leaders in this space,” Dr Turnbull says.

By 2050, one million aged care workers will be needed to provide care to just six million people – according to a recent report by the Victorian Council on Social Services.

“That’s a three-fold increase up from 336,000 people currently working in the aged care sector,” he says.

“Now’s the time to take action and think differently about the way care is delivered.

“When people have a stake in an organisation like a co-operative, they deliver a much better quality of care. This makes the business more successful and means that profits can be re-invested in the staff development and better care.”

Don Dunstan Foundation Executive Director David Pearson says we all need to be a lot more concerned about workforce issues in the care sector.

“Not being on the front foot and addressing these challenges leads to more royal commissions into the quality of care.” Mr Pearson says.

“This industry is also a crucial part of the local economy and in South Australia’s case, is currently the biggest driver of job creation.”

The Don Dunstan Foundation has partnered with the university, business, public and community sectors to deliver the Adelaide ‘Thinkers in Residence’ program which is focusing on growing jobs in the purpose economy.

Supporting the Co-Operative Life coming to South Australia is one of nearly 30 initiatives that have been started or supported by the Thinkers Program over the last 18 months.

Dr Guy Turnbull is the current ‘Thinker in Residence’ and former Managing Director of Care and Share Associates (CASA) – an employee owned cooperative in the UK care sector.

Dr Turnbull is running a free information session about care co-ops on Friday 16 November.

FOR MEDIA ENQUIRIES OR TO ARRANGE INTERVIEWS CONTACT: The Message Bureau on (08) 8223 7703 or 0419 754 564

Lord Mayoral candidates urged to sign homelessness pledge

The Adelaide Zero Project is seeking commitment from all Adelaide City Council candidates to back Adelaide’s efforts to become the first Australian city to achieve Functional Zero[i] homelessness within two years.

Don Dunstan Foundation Executive Director David Pearson, whose organisation is coordinating the project, says it’s about shoring up support to have the candidates publicly and formally endorse Adelaide Zero Project.

“To date, the current Lord Mayor and councillors of Adelaide City Council have been crucial in helping the project to support rough sleepers into secure housing and we look forward to this continuing after the election,” Mr Pearson says.

“Over 30 organisations are driving Adelaide Zero Project and by having Adelaide City Council candidates sign a Statement of Commitment to fully support this initiative, reflects the all of community approach needed to end street homelessness.”

Lord Mayoral candidates Sandy Verschoor, Steven Kelly, Mark Eric Hamilton and Kate Treloar are among those being asked to support ending street homelessness in the City of Adelaide by the end of 2020.

A pledge event hosted by Uniting Communities and Flinders University, will be held on Wednesday 24 October from midday at Flinders University, 182 Victoria Square.

“We’ve been blown away by the amount of support we’ve received with over two thirds of candidates committing to attend this important event,” Mr Pearson says.

Since Adelaide Zero Project’s Connections Week in May this year, 68 people on the By- Name List have been relocated into secure housing.

The Project’s online dashboard, the first of its kind in Australia, shows 149 people are actively sleeping rough in the inner-city.

“Adelaide Zero Project is continuing to focus on how to make additional housing options available and improve overall access to homelessness services,” Mr Pearson says.

“We’re implementing new measures including a Business Alliance, led by Adelaide City Council, to engage corporate leaders and traders in developing solutions to end homelessness.”

Adelaide City Council extended its partnership with Don Dunstan Foundation last month, to support the Zero Project, bringing its total commitment to over $340,000 in funding over three years.

MEDIA RELEASE: 26 October 2018


For interviews or further information please contact The Message Bureau on 08 8223 7703 or 0419 754 564.

[i]Functional Zero street homelessness is achieved when the number of people who are sleeping rough at any time, is no greater than the average housing capacity for that same time period.

Adelaide Zero Project Partners