Neville Linsley: 30 years of contribution…and one amazing historical coincidence!

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By Grant J Everett with Alana Mondy

Neville recently uncovered an amazing coincidence about Flourish Australia’s service at ‘The Centre,’ 627 Hunter Street, Newcastle.

“Where The Centre is located right now used to be a market, and my ancestors owned it back in the 1930s.”

He made that discovery one weekend recently when he attended a family reunion on the Central Coast. At the event there was some family historical documents on display. Neville noticed a document (reproduced on the next page) which had a very familiar address on it. 627 Hunter St Newcastle West, the same address as the Flourish Australia Hunter St Centre.

His family informed him that his relatives owned the same building in the 1930’s and it was a Cash and Carry Self-Serve Grocery. Neville was astounded that the building in which he currently works 3 days a week on reception is the same building that his Great Uncle would have walked the floors of!

Despite having been an integral part of The Centre and its predecessors for about 30 years, Neville says ‘I had no idea about this connection until I stumbled across it at the family reunion!’

It was actually a letter from Neville to his Member of Parliament that led to the establishment of ‘The Centre’ in the first place.

He was a patient at Biala Unit at James Fletcher Hospital in Newcastle at the time it was due to close down. A committee headed by social worker Rosemarie Ramsay (who became the first boss of The Centre, by the way) was formed to found a place where former patients could meet and continue their recovery journey.

The Committee wanted to use the Department of Education’s former premises at 88 Scott Street Newcastle for this purpose, and Neville volunteered to write to his local Member of Parliament to ask to use it. The reply was an affirmative, but Neville was initially met with disbelief until he showed the letter to his fellow committee members!

It was actually a letter from Neville to his Member of Parliament that led to the establishment of ‘The Centre’ in the first place.

“I’ve been here since The Centre’s very inception,” Neville told us. “And I’ve known a lot of its workers for a long time. For instance, I worked with Dianne Carson (who recently retired) for over 17 years, and I’ve also been in contact with some of the regular members for more than 20 years. A few of them still attend!”

“The Scott Street address became [Flourish Australia’s predecessor] PRA’s first day-to-day living centre in Newcastle,” Neville told us. It was a very humble affair, too, compared to what it has since become.

The Centre has had several location changes before arriving at 627 Hunter Street: after Scott Street, they moved to Stewart Avenue, then to King Street (which is why they were once known as PRAonKing), and finally to Hunter Street. Neville has been here for all of these shifts. Each time, it got better!

“It gives me a sense of satisfaction and purpose knowing that I’ve helped.”

At one point Neville left PRA for a couple of years to assist an organisation called Kaiyu to set up their service in the Hunter Valley. Pronounced Kie-You, “Kaiyu” is a word from the indigenous Awabakal language that means “to have power and ability.“ Kaiyu provides mental health services and supports people to live satisfying and valued lives as full members of the community.

“I would get involved in other projects like Kaiyu if offered,” Neville confirmed.

“I’ve always assisted with clerical tasks around The Centre,” Neville said. “I was the secretary for many years while Rosemary was at the helm. In addition to running reception, I’ve also showed many others how to manage the front desk. Currently, I’m also in charge of stocktaking, such as ordering drinks for the vending machine and keeping the fridge full.

The best thing about my role is that it allows me to mix with a lot of diverse characters. I enjoy being useful to The Centre – like assisting with enquiries and finding solutions to people’s problems – as it gives me a sense of satisfaction and purpose knowing that I’ve helped.”

Even when it isn’t his shift, Neville is always happy to volunteer when the other receptionists take their breaks.

“Neville is very knowledgeable and a great asset for all new staff, including support workers,” Alana Mondy, the Senior Peer Worker at The Centre, told us.

Neville shared a funny example of how much The Centre (and our entire organisation) has changed over time: “We used to have a game evening back at Scott Street in the 80s when The Centre was just a small office. The prizes were usually packets of cigarettes. How times have changed! In addition to not giving away addictive substances, what the organisation has to offer has greatly improved. The practices, the way people are treated, the language the staff use, and the support that they offer are all amazing.”

Neville is also passionate about music. “I watch bands on the weekends and go to all kinds of live music events. I’ve always loved listening to live music.”

Flourish Australia
627 Hunter Street
(02) 9393 9700
1300 779 270



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