Photos from the official opening of Tilli Place, home to Jupiter and Tomaree Neighbourhood Service

LIFE-SAVING: Jupiter counsellors Jasmine Abbott and Avril Saunders with COPSY president Brooke Vitnell and Jupiter operations manager Paul Pearton at the Tilli Place official opening.
LIFE-SAVING: Jupiter counsellors Jasmine Abbott and Avril Saunders with COPSY president Brooke Vitnell and Jupiter operations manager Paul Pearton at the Tilli Place official opening.

Supporters of Tilli Place were welcomed to the service's space in Tanilba Bay and thanked last Friday during an official opening celebration.

Caring for Our Port Stephens Youth (COPSY), the not-for-profit community group behind free youth counselling service Jupiter - A Space to Talk, has joined forces with Tomaree Neighbourhood Centre and opened up shop in the Kooindah Centre.

At Tilli Place, Jupiter counsellors offer youths aged 12 to 21 who are struggling with their mental health a safe space to talk while neighbourhood centre staff are on hand to provide emergency relief to struggling families.

A smoking ceremony by John Schultz from Murrook Culture Centre and welcome to country by Worimi elder Uncle John Ridgeway OAM kicked off the April 23 celebrations.

COPSY president Brooke Vitnell thanked the supporters of Tilli Place before plaques were presented to some of the contractors, clubs, groups, independent supporters and organisations that has helped establish Tilli Place.

Among the supporters are Club Lemon Tree, Lions, Rotary, the Men's Shed, Port Stephens Council, Blake Smith Carpentry and Worimi artist Jason Russell from Koori Colours Art Galley who has painted a large mural on the entrance wall at Tilli Place.

"We've had privately owned businesses and tradespeople helping out however they could. We've had members of the Port Stephens Community Arts Centre, a group of ladies called Artrageous, who painted murals in some of our counselling rooms. It's been heartwarming to see everyone band together," she said.

"Through the generosity of [former mayor] Bruce MacKenzie in providing the rooms here rent free for a number of years he has helped us achieve this dream.

"We've had fantastic support from Port Stephens Council, the Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation, our board members and staff who continue to work to ensure the sustainability of Jupiter well into the future."

Tomaree Neighbourhood Centre president Keith Dykes said it was a "perfect fit" in teaming up with COPSY on the Tilligerry Peninsula.

"The decision to establish an outreach service in Tanilba Bay has been vindicated over the past three weeks since services began. We have seen a high level of activity in the office, which shows that this service is needed by this community," he said.

Geoffrey Basser OAM, a founding member of COPSY, and Paul Pearton, operations manager of counsellor for Jupiter, presented plaques of appreciation to sponsors and supporters.

Mr Basser spoke of the need for ongoing support of COPSY and Jupiter. About $50,000 a year is required for COPSY, a not-for-profit community group, to continue to run its Jupiter rooms in Salamander Bay and Tanilba Bay.

After hearing this, Mr MacKenzie pledged $1000 to COPSY.

Between November 2018 and March 2021 Jupiter has welcomed 155 youths through its doors and provided 772 free counselling sessions.

Tilli Place is located in Shop 4 of the Kooindah Centre, Tanilba Bay.

The space is currently opened Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. It will open more days as demand increases.

The neighbourhood centre holds its emergency relief program on Thursday. Phone 0478 589 978 to make an appointment.

No referral is needed to make a Jupiter appointment. Book by phone 0490 716 265 or visit jupiter.org.au.

To make a tax deductible donation to Jupiter, head to jupiter.org.au/get-involved/make-a-donation.

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