Mental Health Month Festivities


Event 1: Picnic Day at Bicentennial Park

by Larry Billington

The Picnic Day was terrific! The general vibe and enthusiasm that was there on the day manifests the trust implicit between this organisation and it’s diverse membership… in contrast with that recently articulated for the banking institutions and some of their client base.

Graham Seaman from WestClub, Penrith said he had caught the 8.30 train from Penrith to get there early, even though it didn’t start till 11 AM. “I know a lot of friends and peers here” he said.

Sean, an advocate from Campbelltown, remarked that it was even better than last year’s.

Julian who facilitates community based activities at Buckingham House in Surry HIll was seen busy sharing news with people who used to access our HASI service who had come back for the picnic.

There were the usual friendly games of quoits, tug of war and volleyball. Rosita from Harris Park was playing volleyball but when she saw me coming quipped, “It can’t be THAT friendly, then.”

My own advice to others present was to “Keep away from that tug-o’war rope – it’s murder” When Karaoke winner Sally (pictured below) saw me, she said: “Don’t you line up for that karaoke. That’s just embarrassing”.

Sally sings!.jpg

The best quote of the day was from Mohammed the chief organiser who said: “Nothing’s a problem”. Great attitude! And a thoroughly great day was had by all the community present on the day. LB

Event 2: Flowerdale Open Day

Flourish Australia’s service at 19 Flowerdale Road Liverpool had its umpteenth annual open day, to which it not only invites all its members, but all the neighbours, friends, supporters, family members, local businesses and even the newly elected Mayor Of Liverpool, Wendy Waller. Local State MP Paul Lynch was also there, and not for the first time! Uncle Ivan was there for the smoking ceremony and welcome to country.


Group painting

Many of the visitors were welcomed into the art room by member Giorgios (above) whose photo recently appeared in the local Liverpool Leader newspaper. Giorgios invited each person to contribute to a large group painting by slapping down some paint any way they saw fit.

A spot of gardening

Have you seen keen gardeners in action? Once people are converted to gardening, it seems to take over completely, which is not a bad thing because gardening is fun, useful, interesting, socially responsible and very often edible. Bunnings Warehouse often supports good causes in the community, and Flowerdale Open day was no exception. Felicia (pictured below) came out from Bunnings with some sample plants and pots and and some nice black soil for people to work with. Flowerdale does have a small garden plot out in the back yard that comes with its very own scarecrow, so she didn’t look out of place. People could have a go at planting and transplanting the greenery for themselves. You never know when the world of gardening is going to get its next convert.




People come from all around to the Flowerdale Open Day, including from as far away as Buckingham House in Surry Hills. Nick (below) visited the Open Day as a member of the Como Social and Leisure Centre, who are regulars at Flowerdale. He used to live and work in Surry Hills and knew a bit of the history of Buckingham House going back to the 1960s, including the supported employment service PRA used to run there in the old days. “Having a work ethic is very important. Work keeps me well,” said the 72-year-old Nick. He originally came to Australia from Malta, and nowadays he makes his home in the Sutherland Shire.


Carers: help with the NDIS!

Carers can also visit during the Open Day. We met one young man who’d been caring for his mother, who has mental health issues, for a long time. This young man was visiting Flowerdale for the first time, and we understand that he had discovered a lot of helpful information just from speaking to the members and staff. One important piece of knowledge that came as a surprise was that Flourish Australia is able to help people plan for the NDIS. We trust that all carers who visited were able to find out about getting support. WH

Event 3: Headspace Anniversary

Bankstown headspace celebrated its first year of operation with a barbecue at Bankstown Central shopping centre. Manager Tom Traae became Chef Tom Traae as he cooked halal and vegetarian tucker for members of the public who ventured up to the headspace stall. Meanwhile, balloon-wielding headspace staff mingled among the shoppers to publicise the event.

There was a desk full of information sheets about every imaginable mental health issue, plus fridge magnets, brochures, helpful information booklets and, best of all, a prize wheel. Contestants competed for prizes by answering simple questions about common mental health issues. Prizes included various headspace merchandise, such as water bottles.

There was also a headspace hound…or “terrier” might be a better word. We thought Nugget was the cutest part of the whole event, and you can see her pictured below with her human mother, Sabrina.


Headspace caters for young people from 12-25 who are experiencing mental health issues. This makes it a little different from other Flourish Australia services, which are usually aimed at ages 18 plus. S

enior Youth Access Clinician Fatima Eid says that bullying is a major issue among younger people.

Not far away from the barbecue, in Bankstown library, school students were studying for their HSC exams. Thankfully, study stress and exam stress are issues that headspace can help with. Fatima told Panorama that although schools have part- time counsellors, they will often refer students to headspace whenever problems go beyond what school resources can deal with.

Bankstown headspace is a partnership between Flourish Australia and several local organisations, which ensures that it can cater for the specific needs of youth in the area. Bankstown headspace is located just across the street from Bankstown Central, which incidentally is Australia’s second oldest shopping mall, having opened as Bankstown Square in 1966. WH


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