ABOVE: Matthew working at the CSIRO. He competed with several applicants for the role. PHOTO COURTESY OF MATT SCHIPP
By Matthew Schipp
In August 2018, Matthew made a presentation about his recovery journey to The Mental Health Services (TheMHS) conference in Adelaide, along with Clare Evans, Manager of Capacity and Marketing for Flourish Australia. This is an edited text of his speech.
I would like to tell you about my history with mental health issues, but, most poignantly, my recovery experience with Flourish Australia. I am 39 and was struck down with mental health issues when I was 25. I spent a few years in and out of hospitals, then hostels in different areas of Sydney and the Southern Highlands.
Luckily for me, in 2015 I was put forward to Flourish Australia by another support service called HASI and I moved into a group home run by Flourish Australia. They were very helpful, buying me the furniture that I needed for my stay.
In 2016 I decided to do a Business Administration Diploma as I wanted to work in the area. I had done some Call Centre work before I became unwell and I knew it would be something I would enjoy. The Flourish Australia employees were very helpful and supportive over that period, talking to me about the course and involving themselves in the experience and making me feel confident that I could do it.
In 2017 I joined Flourish Australia’s supported placement program and successfully landed three contract positions. The first working in Business Administration for a company called Dept Fix. Then I did a five month contract as an administration officer for the Department of Industry. Following this, I spent an interim three months working at Flourish Australia’s scanning and digitization business.
Then, in February of 2018 I was put forward by Flourish Australia for a supported placement in a reception role for the Commonwealth Scientific Industry Research Organisation, or CSIRO. I was interviewed for the position against a number of different applicants and got the job. It has been going great since then. I was recently presented with a TS Kudos award recognising my good performance in the workplace. It looks like they will be taking me on permanently.
I am very much enjoying my time at work it definitely helps in how you see things which I believe makes you feel better in yourself. Being able to communicate with other people on a regular basis clears up your head and you don’t feel so trapped by your own world. It also feels great to be busy and that you are contributing to something that is not only your work but part of a team.
I now feel like I am moving forward in my life which I definitely have to thank Flourish Australia for. They have a system set up to help their clients no matter what their story may be. I have managed to move from a very difficult part of my life to a position where I wanted to be before I became unwell.
The recovery process has been very well supported I have kept busy over the time I have been with Flourish Australia even before I was employed. They offer a great deal of choice so there is always a lot of socializing. This leads fantastically into my employment as I already had that very important experience of having the courage to socialize with other people.
I am now in a position where I should be moving out of my group home and into my own premises sometime in September or October. I can remember dreaming of that fact five years ago and it feels great to finally reach this point. I can’t stress enough the fact that if you have a goal for yourself no matter how long it may take and no matter how difficult it will be if you plan it out it is definitely possible, and there is definitely the help out their to make it happen.
The very idea that within just a few months I will be taking care of myself in the community makes me very happy. I would like to thank the people at Flourish Australia for what they have done.
Thanks to Clare Evans – Editor