Intangible Storytelling Project

Published 27 August 2015. Last updated 21 April 2021.

FWLHD Health Innovation Award – 2013

A multimedia project which tells the stories of inspirational carers and the vital role they play in the community.


To make mental health services inclusive for families and carers by using real stories to challenge views, workplace culture and community stigma in Far West Local Health District ( FWLHD ).


  • Improved outcomes for mental health consumers, their carers and families.
  • Improved Aboriginal and rural health outcomes for people requiring mental health services.
  • Advocates for the needs of carers.

Project status

Project start date: October 2011

Project status: Sustained - the project has been implemented, is sustained in standard business.


Carer forums and individual consultations with carers highlighted the need for the carers to be heard, acknowledged and included. It also identified the need and value of  hearing the carers’ stories directly and the importance of using local stories. A review of literature and resources demonstrated the need for cultural diversity in carers’ stories.


  • Collaborated with local services and carer groups, inviting carers to participate in forums and individual consultations. The project team successfully engaged a diverse group of seven carers, ranging from an Aboriginal Elder to a 14-year-old carer. Carers were encouraged to write and co-produce their own stories in their own voice.
  • Created resources that shared the journey of seven ordinary but inspirational carers, including:
    • a DVD of carer stories
    • education booklets written from the perspectives of health workers, carers and families
    • a book for carers titled ‘Intangible: Insight and Inspiration’
    • posters titled ‘I Care, Do You?’.
  • Incorporated resources into TAFE Western NSW mental health education and online education units for nursing and paramedic students at Charles Sturt University.

Watch videos from the project on the FWLHD website.


The project was led by The Family and Carer Mental Health Program at FWLHD and a small project team with support and funding from partners including:

  • CentaCare Wilcannia-Forbes
  • My Time Project (Richmond PRA)
  • Maari Ma Health Aboriginal Corporation
  • Far West Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centre.


Intangible is a high quality, multi-purpose resource that has been incorporated into workforce development, community awareness programs and education for carers and their families, within FWLHD as well as throughout NSW and Australia.

Intangible was launched on 17 October 2011 during Carers Week, with 12 community screenings across three local health districts. More than 950 people attended community screenings and 629 evaluations from people living in 45 different postcodes were collected. 98% of those surveyed indicated that using ‘real stories’ that are connected to your own community are important in raising awareness and reducing stigma about mental illness.

The resources that were developed have been made available across multiple clinical, community, educational and workplace locations.

Program achievements

  • Winner of the Healthy Living Category and Judges Award for Excellence in the FWLHD 2013 Health Innovation Awards.
  • Winner of the Family and Carer Involvement Category in the 2012 Mental Health Matters Awards.
  • Nominated as a finalist in the 2013 Australian and New Zealand Mental Health Service Achievements Awards.
  • Selected for at the inaugural NSW Health Innovation Symposium 2012.
  • Screened one story in the One of Us Film Festival 2011 (Brain Dynamics Centre, Westmead).
  • More than 200 copies of the book and 2000 copies of the DVD have been distributed across Australia, including within the NSW Family & Carer Mental Health Program  and to carers and families.

Lessons learnt

  • FWLHD ’s geographical distances and the cyclical nature of caring created additional challenges, to make sure carers could take part and share their stories.
  • Recording carer stories allowed them to be shared, for the purposes of delivering workforce education, providing information sessions for families and carers, engaging carers at community events and advocating at a state or national level.
  • Other issues raised for carers within the community were isolation, lack of service choice, distance and lack of privacy.

Further reading

  • National Carer Strategy, Commonwealth of Australia; 2011.
  • Pagnini D. Carer Life Course Framework: Carers Mental Health Project. Carers NSW; 2008.
  • Carers Action Plan 2007-2012. Primary Health and Community Partnerships. NSW Health; 2007.
  • National Standards for Mental Health Services. Australian Government; 2010.
  • Triangle of Care. Carers Trust; 2013.


Tanya CliftonCoordinator, Family and Carer Mental Health
Mental Health & Drug & Alcohol Service
Far West Local Health District
Phone: 08 8080 1525


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Aboriginal healthMental healthConsumer engagementFar WestRural and regionalLocal health district award
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