Our Presentations at TheMHS Adelaide 2018

The TheMHS (Mental Health Services) Conference at the end of August 2018 was a great opportunity for 18 people from Flourish Australia to connect with the breadth and depth of the community mental health sector across Australia and New Zealand.

I have been inspired by the presentations the Flourish Australia team have made. My pride in everyone has been expanded more by the courage demonstrated as people have shared their personal stories, spoken in front of people or at a conference for the first time, asked great questions or debated issues with other conference delegates.

The team were fantastic Ambassadors for Flourish Australia, and represented us all beautifully. Our approach to being a recovery oriented organisation shone through and was commented on positively by others.

On top of all of that I was delighted that the Chair of our Board, Professor Elizabeth More AM joined us for Thursday and presented a paper on the NDIS and Organisational change. Elizabeth was able to hear some of our presentations and was very impressed by people’s passion and commitment.

Our presence was well promoted through social media, an amazing stall in the exhibitors’ hall and an updated promotional video. People were commenting about how good all of this was.

My thanks to everyone on the Flourish Australia team here in Adelaide, Matthew, Fay, Mark, Jade, Clare, Edwina, Bruce, Peter, Michael, Monique, Glenn, Daniel, Kim, Grant, Alison, Peter, and Matthew for their amazing work.”

-Mark Orr , CEO Flourish Australia


Our Presenters

Bruce Jones (peer worker at Flourish Australia Moree): “Stories of men’s mental health recovery in a dry and dusty land”

In the opening ceremony, South Australian Minister for Health and Wellbeing, The Hon Steven Wade MLC, actually made mention of Bruce’s forthcoming presentation! 

Bruce had been very nervous to begin with. ‘This was my first go at presenting. So it was very daunting.’ His background is in driving, living off the land and more recently peer work. But it went well on the day. 

‘I am trying to get rid of mental health stigma in the bush. I told about my own issues and recovery journey  following a relationship break up. It’s important to be able to talk about these things to men on the land.’

Peter Farrugia, who saw Bruce Jones’ presentation, said that it had “a lot of heart” and went over well with the audience. 

Bruce JonesAbove: Bruce Jones

Clare Evans (Marketing and Capacity Manager) and Matthew Schipp (former program participant): “Flourish Australia’s supported outplacement program: redefining supported employment”

This presentation was about the supported outplacement program featured in Panorama #66 [December 2017). Clare Evans explained how the program works and then handed over to a participant Matthew Schipp. Matthew explained how the program helped him to eventually gain a job at CSIRO through a competitive interview. 

Daniel Reynolds (senior peer worker at Newcastle): “Supporting people through the transition to NDIS”

Panorama is going to be presenting a series of articles on this topic in coming issues!


Above: Edwina Keelan

Edwina Keelan (accesses Flourish Australia’s Marrickville service) 

“Trans-Tasman Transgender”

Edwina’s presentation covered her life story which was published in December 2017 and March 2018 Panorama. It was a challenge to squeeze all of that into a short presentation but she went over very well indeed according to those present!  She also struck a high fashion note wearing an ensemble specially styled for Adelaide TheMHS.

Fay Jackson (General Manager Inclusion), Kim Jones (project officer Inclusion), Jade Ryall (Program Manager B.O.T.H.), Matthew Salen (Cluster Manager, Queanbeyan) and Michael Wren (accesses Flourish Australia’s Bathurst Service): “True co-design starts with one question only”

Co-presenter Kim Jones said ‘some of the people at the workshop THOUGHT they were already co-designing in their organisations. But they learned from us that because they had already come up with the concepts before they took other people’s views on board, it wasn’t genuine co-designing.

Jade Ryall said ‘There were about four groups of six, say 25-30 people. That’s quite a good crowd. Many of the workshops I’ve seen at TheMHS have nine or 10 people- because they hold a number of workshops simultaneously. Our workshop had a LOT of discussion.”

“It was only an hour long,” said Kim, so it was a packed program. We broke them into groups then  asked them to choose a topic, such as ‘if you could design your own mental health service, what would you do?’

fay and monique.jpg

Fay Jackson and Monique Diplock

Monique Diplock (blogger who accesses Flourish Australia’s Taree service) and Fay Jackson: “Good services aim at making themselves redundant”

Monique Diplock told Panorama that in her presentation ‘I shared some handy tools and ideas, as well as my own story. Fay Jackson and I were originally going to do 10 minutes each, but Fay decided it was important for my story to be told in full. 

The support I got from Flourish was great! They got me to Adelaide, and I was able to attend the entire TheMHS conference. The learning opportunities were endless. I came home with new ideas and angles for projects that I’ve wanted to get up and running for a while.

Glenn Botfield (senior peer worker, Tamworth): “Navigating services in regional, rural and remote NSW”

Glenn Botfield told Panorama: My topic, “Navigating services in regional, rural and remote NSW”, was targeted towards people with a lived experience – as well as their families and carers – who live in regional, rural and remote areas. Everybody should have access to adequate mental health services, and if they don’t, then we need to introduce them. I also wanted people to know that a lived experience is not a barrier when it comes to being employed in the mental health field (quite the opposite, actually). The audience seemed to like my talk, and asked a lot of questions about the realities of Peer Work.

Grant MacPhail (senior policy and planning coordinator): “Advancing  beyond recovery-oriented mechanisms toward equitable and valued social inclusion for people with mental health issues”

Grant MacPhail addressed how self-stigma, stigma, and discrimination inhibit social inclusion for people with mental health issues. There is little evidence on how stigma can be overcome, especially long-term, so he developed a transdisciplinary framework which ultimately calls for further research. The various disciplines included psychology, anthropology, peer work, politics, economics, sociology etc. 

A key principle includes the need for people with mental health issues to express a lived-experience identity in positive ways as a collective. 

Starting off at a safe local level, the social capital generated will hopefully snowball as it includes wider society. At the same time, this will allow the development of our unique personal strengths.  Grant was the first to present, and all the speakers who followed on from him all referenced aspects of my presentation!

‘I think the organisers cleverly scheduled the presentations, as my presentation seemed to be a theoretical overview of the practical examples of support activities that followed’, he told Panorama.

Peter F

Above: Peter Farrugia

Peter Farrugia (Peer Workforce Manager): “Supporting LGBTI people in the workplace”

The rates of harassment, discrimination and suicide amongst young people who identify as LGBTI are well above average. Presenting this topic was very personal and emotional for me, and many people declared the session to be moving, thought-provoking and heart-felt. 

They acknowledged the difficult circumstances from that part of my life, and thanked me for sharing. After watching my presentation, one person declared a changed point of view from that moment forward. I received a standing ovation at the conclusion of the presentation.

Readers can see more workplace based initiatives at…


Thanks to all of the presenters for providing us with information for this article.

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