Exploring open employment


It’s the beginning of yet another semester at PreEmploy Institute, with a new intake of people preparing themselves for a big future in the open workforce. For many people with lived experience of mental health issues, this is a major transition. Panorama asked one of the new people starting on the 14th of July 2016, Meredith*, what she was hoping for.

Meredith has been to some information sessions for PreEmploy Institute (PEI) and she already has ideas about which work experience options she would like to pursue.

“I would like to increase my workload, but I think it best to do it incrementally, bumping it up to two days per week to begin with.”

For this reason, Meredith is open to opportunities in office work. She actually has some qualifications in Economics, and has studied Marketing, Business and Sales at TAFE.

Meredith has also participated in a program called Compeer. Compeer is an international program promoting the power of friendship among people with mental health issues. Compeer matches volunteers in one-to-one friendship with people who have become socially isolated. They meet up for coffee, movies, whatever. Locally, it’s run through the St Vincent de Paul’s society, and is a brilliant way of fighting the scourge of being all alone.

Another thing that Meredith has done recently (which we think is fabulous) is participating in a New Moves program through Frangipani House in Harris Park. It’s good to see Meredith taking care of her physical health through this program, as every little bit helps.

Meredith currently works one day per week as a piano teacher. She has up to five piano students on that day. At the moment, she likes to teach youngsters the fundamentals of ivory-tickling.

“I do enjoy teaching.”

Meredith isn’t a backyard operator, either: she’s completed 8th Grade Practical and 7th Grade Musicianship, and obtained official accreditation from the Music Teachers Association of NSW as a qualified piano teacher. This means she’s been able to train students to take grade exams – including some pretty high grades. These exams can be challenging, but there’s one major factor that can severely affect a student’s performance: not practising.

“Nowadays, it can be difficult to get students to do the daily, solid practice that’s required when they already have so many other activities on the go as well.”

Have you thought about entering or returning to open employment? Why not consider doing the PreEmploy program in the first semester of 2017? In its present form, the program runs on a fortnightly cycle over a period of six months. Each fortnight will contain three days of paid workplace experience plus one day of training at PreEmploy in Surry Hills. Information sessions will be advertised towards the end of 2016. If you’re interested, be sure to discuss this with a peer worker or other mental health worker.

* A different name has been used to protect privacy

– WH


The Music Teachers Association of NSW:


Compeer Friendship Program:


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