Almost 40 years in the sector, we’ve grown to a 1500+ strong team who support 38,000 people living with mental health challenges across Australia.

Oh how far we’ve come

In 1986, two passionate Melburnians, John Cohen and Margaret Tomkins, saw a critical need. People leaving hospitals with mental health challenges often had nowhere to live and lacked vital support. That’s why they founded Neami.

As we approach our 40th year, we can reflect on the huge changes we’ve seen in the sector. Research has helped us improve the way we support people. People’s attitudes have changed about mental health and governments have changed their policies.

With each of these changes, Neami has grown, improved and expanded. From working with people who were leaving institutional care in Melbourne’s inner north, to now providing more than 70 programs and services across Australia. These include mental health and wellbeing, housing and homelessness, and suicide prevention.

Neami’s growth has given us a bold and respected national voice. We use this voice to fight for changes in policy and funding. These changes are based on the real experiences of people facing mental health challenges, and they give everyone more control over their own care.

We will keep working hard, changing and improving, to help people have a better quality of life.

Neami’s Story

Est. 1986


Recognising a need 


Formed in Melbourne by John Cohen and Margaret Tomkins


Launched at the Heidelberg Town Hall


Incorporated and named, North Eastern Alliance for the Mentally Ill.


An integral service 


Mental health laws changed allowing people experiencing mental health challenges to access help in the community, not just at the hospital.

The need for more community services grew. The Alliance transitioned from small community agency to major provider of rehabilitation and support services in Melbourne’s north.

Now with eight staff, Neami provided housing, rehabilitation and support programs to people living in Darebin.


Consumers and the Committee of Management choose to use the acronym, Neami.


Neami expands nationally 


Neami grew by partnering with local service providers.


Accredited by Quality Improvement Council (renewed 2013).

Secured funding through the NSW Government’s Housing Accommodation and Support Initiative. Grows to 10 services in the state.


Obtained funds to establish services in metro and regional South Australia.


The Australian Government funded the Day to Day Living in the Community Program and the Personal Helpers and Mentors Program. This helped us start new services in NSW and Victoria, and our first service in WA.


Queensland opened two sites to deliver the Personal Helpers and Mentors Program. Funded by the Australian Government.


Continuous growth and collaboration  


Funding received to deliver the Way2Home Assertive Outreach Service in Sydney.

In Victoria, the Prevention and Recovery Care facility opened. And two new programs commenced called Intensive Home-Based Outreach and Care Coordination.


In Victoria, Neami merged with Inner East Mental Health Service Association. Thirty new support workers across four new sites.

The Housing and Accommodation Support Partnership funded five new sites in SA.

The Aboriginal Assertive Outreach Service commences. Helping homeless Aboriginal people in Sydney’s metro and coastal region.


Long-term project carried out with people who use our services. Recommendations on how we can improve adopted.


Mental Health Community Support Services reappointed. New sites open across metro Melbourne and staff numbers double.

Crisis Respite Service starts in SA. This reduces the need for people to stay in hospital.

Most Neami teams now include someone with lived and living experience, who knows what it’s like to have mental health challenges or be homeless.

Name changed to Neami National. New logo and brand identity.


First Quality, Safety and Clinical Governance Framework developed. Corporate structure externally audited.

Lead agency for Central Adelaide and Hills Partners in Recovery.

After 20 years, Neami Splash Arts Studio closes.


Connected with new Primary Health Networks. Became a National Disability Insurance Scheme provider.

Mental Health and Wellbeing Australia (‘Me Well’), established as our NDIS provider.


Refine and streamline 


2020-2023 Strategic Directions launched explaining areas of focus.


Neami National ceased delivering the Me Well program in November.


Workforce now exceeds 1500 nationally.

Neami helps 38,000 people in Australia through 70+ programs and services.

Launched a brand refresh including new website.
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