Above (from left): Fay Jackson, Janet Meagher AM, Governor David Hurley AC DSC, Matthew Mitcham, Pamela Rutledge, Professor Elizabeth More AM, Aunty Millie Ingram
by Grant J Everett
It’s finally happened! After years of existing under a temporary name, on the 16th of August 2016 our organisation was permanently rebranded as Flourish Australia. Of course, Panorama was there to bring you all the big news of the day!
The launch took place at Figtree Conference Centre at Sydney Olympic Park, and was attended by people from many walks of life: employees, people who access our services, management, board members, the Governor of New South Wales, and even the odd Olympic gold medallist (be sure to read our Taking the plunge story about Matthew Mitcham on page 3). There were representatives from across our sixty-four locations.
Flourish Australia runs a total of 64 locations, employs 700 staff members, and we care for around 4,000 people with a lived experience of mental health issues each year. Of our 700 staff, 140 are peer workers.
This great turnout was thanks to a social media campaign we’ve been running for a while now (thanks Jasmin Buchal!), as well as more old-fashioned things like posters and flyers. As we’d hoped, guests came in droves from the furthest corners of the organisation.
However, we understand that physically making it to the launch simply wasn’t possible for some. Just to ensure that nobody missed out, the launch event was live streamed on Facebook. This means that anyone could watch things unfold in real-time, and all they needed was an internet connection. For those of you who completely missed out on the launch, you can check out a recording of it on the Panorama Online Magazine website.
We also held smaller launch events in a few key areas around the state to try and get as many people involved as possible. What did you do on the day?
Old (and new) friends
There were a lot of familiar faces at the launch. As I hadn’t seen many of the guests for months or even years, it was great catching up with everybody. From the awesome vibe and loud conversations, I think everyone else at the launch felt the same way.
In particular, chatting with the past and present General Managers of Inclusion (Janet Meagher and Fay Jackson, respectively) was a highlight for me. On a related note, I was able to meet and speak with Dr John Parkinson. In case you haven’t heard of him, Dr Parkinson pretty much created the organisation known as Psychiatric Rehabilitation Australia (PRA) sixty one years ago. Dr Parkinson told me how great it’s been to see his brainchild grow and evolve over time. I also learned that PRA first began as a social club at the infamous Callan Park hospital, and that they actually had great difficulty in starting it up.
First things first
Despite the fact that some of the spectators had already spent hours getting here (a few had crossed such huge distances that they had to fly in and stay overnight), everyone seemed glad to have made it for this special event. As usual, the food and drinks provided by the Conference Centre staff was outstanding. The 8 am breakfast was an amazing spread of canapes, fresh juice, sandwiches, pastries, slices, croissants, fruit kebabs and more. We also had professional baristas on site, and they were brewing my favourite blend of coffee: free.
The guests were all treated to some traditional koori music (a didgeridoo and clapping sticks) while they ate, and there were all sorts of fancy techy decorations to make things more interesting, such as projectors and video screens.
Speaking of fancy tech, we had juice-cycles! You simply put your ingredients into a blender that was fixed to the handlebars and connected up to the peddles, pedal on the bike to spin the blades, then scull the fresh juice. Genius!
The formal stuff
We got a start on the formal part of the day on the dot at 9 am. A professional Lebanese drummer lead the way to the largest conference room in Figtree. The walls and roof were painted with a colour of light that I’m going to refer to as “flourish green” from now on. Matthew Watson was our MC for the day, and he performed his job flawlessly. He got plenty of laughs along the way, too.
As always, we began proceedings by paying our respects to the traditional owners of the land, and to elders both past and present. As she has done many times in the past, Aunty Millie Ingram performed the “welcome to country” on behalf of the Eora nation, a people who have been here for tens of thousands of years. After this, we moved onto the inspirational speakers for the day.
Above: Janet Meager (our former General Manager Inclusion) and Dr John Parkinson (the founder of PRA) catch up
Janet Meagher spoke passionately about past tragedies that are far too recent, of how many people with a lived experience still don’t have a voice, and how people with mental health issues face abuse, ignorance and discrimination to this day. However, those of us who have a voice have a responsibility to shine a light for present and future generations. We stand on the shoulders of great people. Janet finished on a popular motto of how services like ours are run:
“Nothing about us without us.”
Donna Marque spoke about her struggles as a mother who needed help, and how one of her earlier attempts at getting professional assistance involved the terrible pain of being away from her son – Ishmael – for five weeks. However, Donna was then able to get involved with the Charmian Clift Cottages Women & Children’s Program, where her son could be with her. She came a long way in a short time, and Donna has formed many positive connections and gotten involved with a lot of charity work.
Matthew Mitcham was a celebrity guest on the day. As a men’s health ambassador, Matthew shared with all of us how he needed to learn to accept himself and how self-esteem needs to come from WITHIN, rather than from external sources. Be sure to check out the in-depth story about Matthew!
The word “flourish” can mean to thrive, to do well, to prosper, and to grow. It can also mean being in a period of highest productivity, excellence, to be at your peak, to be healthy, to be successful. Considering that we’re in the business of helping people to achieve their best, Flourish Australia is an appropriate name.
We had quite a few other guest speakers besides Matthew. Our Patron, The Governor of NSW, His Excellency The Honourable General David Hurley AC DSC, thanked us for shining a light. In addition to the Governor, Lucinda Brogden, Katherine Lowry, Professor Elizabeth Moore and Fay Jackson all spoke at length about the many changes they’ve seen, and how we need to keep working for a better system. Our CEO Pam Rutledge thanked our army of volunteers who worked tirelessly, to make this all happen.
Once the speakers had finished and the curtain was “flourished” away from our new logo to great applause, we existed! The formal part of the day then concluded with a smoking ceremony in the courtyard.
The origin of FLOURISH AUSTRALIA
A while back, RichmondPRA offered all of our staff members and the people who access our services an opportunity to suggest possible names. After hundreds of good efforts, “Flourish Australia” was eventually declared to be the winner. Just to prove how much we care about your feedback, even the shade of green we’re using for the new logo was the result of intensive sessions with focus groups. Sure, there were other names, colour schemes and logos that came close to being used, but the Board had to make a unanimous decision on what moniker we were going to choose.
When it comes to design choices, you may be wondering why our new logo is a speech bubble. Well, as Jasmin Bucal told me: “It starts with a conversation.”
Farewelling the temp
The “RichmondPRA” name – one we’ve carried since the merger on July the 1st, 2012 – was only ever meant to be a placeholder. In case you weren’t around for it, this previous name was the result of two major not-for-profit organisations merging to become one:
Richmond Fellowship and PRA (Psychiatric Rehabilitation Australia). While RichmondPRA may have been a logical choice considering the circumstances, this temporary name wasn’t all that intuitive (if I had a dollar for every time somebody asked me if RichmondPRA was in Richmond…grrr!). We hope that our new motto will immediately spell out exactly what we’re about and who we help: “Supporting Mental Health & Wellbeing.” Says it all, really, doesn’t it?
Above: the spread!
A good question to ask at this point is: “How does this all affect ME?” Why should you, the reader, care? If your involvement with Flourish Australia involves hanging out at one of our day centres or working in a supported employment role, things probably won’t change much. However, rebranding our name is a huge job in a lot of ways. It’s not as simple as removing “RichmondPRA” from our signs and replacing them with “Flourish Australia” stickers. As one example, our IT department had to work hard to get our email accounts up and running across the entire state. There will also be a bit of a “transition period” as the country gets used to the fact that we’re called something else.
But don’t panic! When it comes to contacting us or physically finding us, for now all of our phone numbers and street addresses are the same as always. However, on the day of the rebranding, all our email addresses switched over to a new format. They went from this to this:
IMPORTANT: Don’t worry if you accidentally send an email to an old RichmondPRA inbox. It will still turn up in the new, correct inbox just like before. Thanks, IT guys!
Look, the most important point we can make is that Flourish Australia will continue to offer the same services, vocational opportunities, and everything else you’d expect from our organisation. The things we provided yesterday will still be available tomorrow…promise!
Highlights of the rebranding
One of the big draw cards of the renaming event was an art exhibition. We like to encourage artistic expression (after all, it’s known to play a key role in many recovery journeys), and the rebranding was a great opportunity for many of our talented folks to put brush to canvas and show what they could do. We had several big pieces that were a group effort between entire services, with up to ten people working on the one item. In addition to paint, pencils and other visual mediums (like sculpture from the awesome Glenda Mears), we also had hardcopies of poems and short stories.
Flourish Australia and Panorama
We decided that Panorama magazine will still be called Panorama magazine. The changes we’ve undergone are pretty much cosmetic: all we’ve needed to do was swap out our RichmondPRA logos with Flourish Australia logos at the bottom of our pages and on the front cover. While we were once known as PanoRamA (showing our PRA heritage, there) we left this behind years ago.
Above: Members of our senior leadership team. From left: Andrew, Fay, Mark, Marty, Tim
Above: Some of the managers of our many locations