by Grant J Everett
Pictured: Some representatives from West Ryde Prestige Packing
Peter Farrugia, our Peer Workforce Program Manager, has traveled all over New South Wales and Southern Queensland to present a recovery forum to our most far-flung locations. On the day Peter brought his forum to Figtree Conference Centre at Sydney Olympic Park dozens of representatives hailing from many of our workplaces turned up to hear what he had to say. Their job was simple: attend the forum, get involved, and take back whatever they learned to their co-workers.
After filing into one of Figtree’s largest rooms, we immediately plunged into our first exercise: picking from a deck of “Strengths” cards. This lead into a big discussion about our personal strengths, the strengths we see in others, the strengths that we most admire, and the strengths that other people admire in us. Peter explained that this forum was about learning how to grow by sharing new strategies, pursuing wellness in everything we do, and living a life of empowerment and fulfillment.
There were a lot of interactive exercises like this, and input from the crowd was encouraged and appreciated.
Peter told us a fair bit about the Recovery Learning Network (RLN), an innovative, peer-led community partnership project that will promote ongoing wellness through education. Recovery Learning Communities (RLCs) will be established at existing RichmondPRA sites, and they’ll all link up to a central hub at head office. The Network will enhance any existing educational opportunities being offered at these locations, and they’ll all be run by people with a lived experience of mental health issues. The RLN will also build partnerships with local organisations across many fields, and we hope that these partnerships will provide pathways to employment, further education and social inclusion.
As the RLN develops, we will support people to enter or re-engage with the workforce or pursue further studies.
The biggest message of the day, one that our organisation repeats often, is that recovery is available to anybody. The details of every recovery differ, sure, but we all have to be “active collaborators” in our recovery, as well as in the recoveries of the people we know, and being involved with the RLN will give us that chance.
A big thanks to Peter Farrugia, and to the managers of our many services who paid for morning tea and lunch, and also to Sue and the conference centre staff who put it all together with their usual flair.