December 2021

From Small Beginnings – The success story of Uplifting Australia and their impact on family mental health

Uplifting Australia’s start-up family mental health program FamilyConnect.org.au has been handed over to Relationships Australia, the leading provider of relationship support services for individuals, families and communities. This gives more than 200,000 families on its books instant access to the program and foster more resilience in their children.

Initially, Uplifting Australia was running face-to-face programs in schools for parents and children to participate in. They engaged 51 schools, including 4 schools in Canberra, trained 637 teachers and had 50,000 participants.

But CEO Garry Thomson always knew, in order to reach more families and make emotional resilience a skill something that was learned by all, he needed to be in an online environment.

COVID accelerated the development of FamilyConnect.org.au which offers four practical modules for families to strengthen connections and skills that are known to improve resilience in children.

The program quickly gained traction, and in late 2020, Garry approached Relationships Australia National Executive Officer Nick Tebbey to see how the two organisations could work together to reach even more families.  Garry then spent several months consulting with the Relationships Australia teams across Australia and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive.  As a result, in June 2021, the Board of Relationships Australia decided unanimously to take on the FamilyConnect program – the first time in its 70-year history that it has taken over an external family education program, from a national, rather than the state level.

“Relationships Australia is grateful to Uplifting Australia for the trust it has placed in us to continue building the important legacy of FamilyConnect. When Garry first approached us, we quickly saw the usefulness and uniqueness of this program – both for the general population and for our client base. We are genuinely excited by the transformational nature of these simple but important tools for families and look forward to continuing Uplifting Australia’s ambition of putting these tools for emotional wellbeing into the easy reach of all Australian families.” Nick Tebbey, CEO Relationships Australia

“The handover of FamilyConnect to Relationships Australia means that more than 200,000 families will have instant access to a program that will help to protect children from mental ill health.  It’s a fantastic result for a little start-up, and a credit to Garry’s foresight and commitment to doing what is best for Australia’s children and their families.  We are so pleased to have been a part of this journey and look forward to the program becoming part of every family’s toolbox,” says Georgina Byron.

The Snow Foundation first got involved with Uplifting Australia in 2016.  Georgina reflects, “what I liked about Uplifting Australia was the focus on simple and practical tips for families to create stronger connections, so that the children would be able to develop those qualities that would make them more resilient.” 

Since then, the Foundation has committed $360,000 to support Garry in his mission.  “The Snow Foundation has provided valuable long-term financial support as well as helping us shape our thinking to best support families all over Australia. This has made an enormous difference to where we are up to now. I’m so grateful for their generosity with Uplifting Australia and across the sector.” Garry Thomson, Founder and CEO Uplifting Australia.

We congratulate Garry and the team at Uplifting Australia, what a tremendous story of small beginnings and growth to impact the mental health of so many families across the country.