MICHAEL WREN accesses our Bathurst Service, and is an emeritus member of the Community Advisory Council. In December he visited Flourish Australia’s head office as part of a Think Tank. Here, he shares some of his story with us…
I am going to see an NDIS planner. It is best to sort out your NDIS plan up front face to face. So far I have found the NDIS has been a pain to deal with. It seems to be OK where disabilities are concerned, but not so much with mental health issues. One person I spoke to by phone basically said that I was not sick enough to get an NDIS package. It’s hard to assess someone based on pieces of paper.
Recently, Lisa Harrison (Manager of Flourish Australia’s Bathurst branch) rang me up on a Sunday night to see how I was going. That’s pretty good service! She needs to be praised for everything she does.
Community Advisory Council
I joined the Flourish Australia CAC when it got off the ground in May 2016. One of the things I did was to start a local committee to put forward ideas and activities at Bathurst. We also organised a meeting there about helping people who might be struggling with the NDIS. Nobody should be left behind or forgotten by the NDIS, but this currently isn’t the case.
“You can’t let everything in your past control your future.”
-Tane Paki, a senior pastor in Michael’s Church
I found the CAC really good. Fay (Jackson), Kim (Jones), (former administrative support person) Michelle (Cullen) and everyone at Head Office made you feel really welcome. I saw lots of positive things happening. Our ideas got heard. Mark (Orr) and Pam (Rutledge) are awesome. People in Flourish Australia care about what they do, and it’s 99% awesome.
I was recently able to get my driver’s licence. I didn’t think I’d get it, but John, Gay and Amanda from Bathurst all encouraged me to go for my Learner’s Test. I did a trial Road Knowledge Test online using the App every chance I got. After doing lessons with Scott Vickery I got my Ls, and now I’ve earned my red Ps. I found that the Service NSW staff were great, too.
The first few driving lessons were difficult, but Scott was able to teach me in a way that eventually made it easier. When I did the exam, I just treated it like another session with the driving instructor, and this helped me overcome any nerves. The tricky things are hill starts, reverse parking and three point turns.
Duke of Edinburgh
I participated in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards when I was at school. It’s good because it’s competitive, but you compete against yourself. There was camping for four days, a bike ride, volunteer community service (which I did in a retirement village) and also acquiring a new skill. You get to progress up through various levels, Bronze, Silver and Gold. At the end of it I got to meet the Governor to get a certificate!
For about three years, from 2013 to 2016, I almost never left the house because of my mental health issues. I used to have a friend who would do my shopping, for example. Two things that are very difficult to do if you are in a situation like I was in are to visit the doctor and attend Centrelink appointments.
I was first referred to Flourish Australia from Mission Australia. Workers from Flourish Australia visited me at home to begin, with and encouraged me to start getting out more. Things have certainly improved since then.
A while back I went to TAFE and did a Certificate III in Information Technology. Later, I hope to do a Certificate IV in Peer Work.
As told to Warren Heggarty
FLOURISH AUSTRALIA, 84 Piper Street, Bathurst, NSW 2795, (02) 9393 9550