by Grant J Everett
ABOVE: If it needs doing, Raylene will do it! PHOTO BY GRANT EVERETT
Raylene attends Flourish Australia’s New Outlook day-to-day living centre at Wollongong. Like many of the people who access New Outlook, Raylene does her part to keep the place functioning. Raylene does so much, in fact, that people have often complimented her dedication and strong work ethic.
“I have a volunteer role at New Outlook which we call a Peer Associate. My role is very broad, but I basically do whatever is necessary to keep the centre running smoothly. I clean, take care of the bins, perform general maintenance work, a variety of admin tasks, I greet new arrivals and tells them about what there is to do today, ring up people’s lunches at the till, and keep the computerised filing system in an orderly state. If it needs doing, I will do it!”
“I have created a lot of the important documents hanging up around New Outlook, including the Work Health & Safety posters that help prevent injuries, notifications about upcoming events, and timetables showing everything New Outlook has to offer. I’ve had a lot of experience with a word processor, and this hands-on practise has led me to a new project: I’m the Editor of the New Outlook Newsletter, a young publication that we hope will become a familiar sight around Wollongong (and maybe even further).”
Just when you thought Raylene couldn’t get any busier, she dedicates even MORE of her time to other worthwhile causes.
“For starters, I attend the Hearing Voices Network Group, which is a worldwide movement of people who hear voices. These meetings offer information, support and understanding to anyone who needs it, and they tend to focus on the deeper, personal meaning behind why individuals hear voices, rather than just relying on putting a medical label on it and medicating it. The Wollongong chapter of this group actually hold their gatherings at the New Outlook centre on Thursdays between 2pm and 3pm.”
Raylene is also a Peer Mentor at The House With No Steps, one of Australia’s leading disability service providers. She reports to Judy Topper, the Operations Manager, and she had a lot of nice things to say about her.
“Goldy Rutherford put me forward,” Raylene said. “He thought I had the appropriate experience and would be a good mentor to people. The House With No Steps isn’t just for people with mobility issues: it’s for all people with disability.”
Raylene advocates for the basic human rights of people with mental health issues whenever she can, and is happy to go to bat for somebody if they have been treated unfairly. As she’s had a lived experience of mental health issues since the 1990s, over the years Raylene has had plenty of opportunities to use her lived experience to help others who are going through similar struggles.
Thanks to Raylene for taking a few minutes to speaking with Panorama. We know how few you have to spare!
3 Station Street, Wollongong, NSW 2500
(02) 9393 9156
Open weekdays 8AM to 4PM