Anthony has progressed through supported employment to mentor and Cert III graduate…
Recently graduated from a Certificate III in Warehousing, Anthony Marfia spoke to Panorama about making a recovery journey in the workplace.
Anthony currently works on the site of Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute [EMAI] near Menangle. EMAI is a laboratory involved in ‘biosecurity’ which means protecting our crops and livestock from the possibility of damage from disease.
It is one of the sites for which Flourish Australia is contracted to provide cleaning services. Anthony says he is pretty happy working there, and he lives not so far away in Wilton.
Anthony began accessing Flourish Australia’s services twelve years ago, due to mental health issues. Over the years as a supported employee he has not stood still but has taken on more and more challenging roles as he has progressed.
‘I’ve worked on a lot of projects over the years’ says Anthony. ‘For example, I was at the former West Ryde site operating a skin packer, which is now housed at Harris Park. I got a lot of help from many people there, such as the managers and supervisors Michaela, Norman, Peter, Steve and others.’
‘For a while I also did deliveries’ Anthony says, ‘driving a ute, doing pickups, loading and unloading.’
‘Another role I had at West Ryde was when we took over a computer recycling business, with Alfonso as manager. That was a real challenge. We had to take the computers apart without breaking them. I enjoyed it as did a number of other people, but it was more demanding work than some people were used to. So my job there involved mentoring. I even trained as a mentor with Coach Peter Tos (later of PreEmploy Institute).’
‘With the computer recycling work you needed to be able to concentrate on the job as well as have good physical coordination. Some people found it difficult and became very frustrated.’
Six months ago, while studying the Certificate III in Warehousing, Anthony started cleaning Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute. Supervisor Alison Gimbert has trained him in the special procedures for safely cleaning a laboratory. ‘This is the sort of job where a person needs to responsibly carry out tasks on their own’ says Alison. ‘I’ve given Anthony particular responsibility for cleaning the plant labs.’
More in control
Has Anthony noticed any changes in himself over the years in how he handled his mental health issues?
He says that gradually there has been a change for the better and that he now felt more in control. ‘I’ve come a long way’ says Anthony. ‘I’ve noticed it within myself and my doctors have as well.’
Alison has noticed it too! Her own children have disabilities yet work in open employment so she is convinced of the value of encouraging people like Anthony to reach their full potential.
Anthony told us that in the past issues such as ‘hearing voices’ and talking to himself, had made it difficult for him to concentrate. It had also tended to make him withdraw from other people.
‘I think I‘ve become better at dealing with my mental health issues and at the same time I have also been able to focus on my job!’
We know that recovery does not happen in a perfectly straight line. ‘I still get times when I can’t help but think certain things [that make me lose concentration] but it is not as bad now. I know that when that happens I need to take time out and relax and get through it. Having a good friend helps a lot at these times, too.
When you think about it, ALL workers, whether they have diagnosed mental health issues or not, have difficult days, and Anthony and his colleagues are not the only people who sometimes lose focus.
The difference is that Anthony and others on the recovery journey have learned to recognise this problem and are able to take action to get back on course. A lot of workers could do with skills like that!
Thanks to Alison Gimbert
Unit 19 / 29-31 Scrivener
street WARWICK FARM 2170