ABOVE: Michael Wren, Matt Salen, Fay Jackson, Kim Jones and Jade Ryall in Adelaide in August last year.
By Michael Wren*
My term on the Community Advisory Council finished in November 2017. Recently, at the 2018 Annual General Meeting I met Mozzy Wilkinson, the new chair of the CAC. Talking to him, I think that there is a bright future ahead for the CAC.
In early 2018, Fay Jackson, Flourish Australia’s General Manager, Inclusion, asked me if I would like to take part in a presentation on Co-Design in Adelaide at the TheMHS conference. We had some meetings with Jade Ryall and others to prepare a workshop.
When I was at TheMHS in Adelaide I noticed that the way Flourish Australia works is so far ahead of the other organisations. Mainly I think it is because Flourish Australia listens to the people who access the service, and because they employ people with lived experience as well.
At the workshop we started off by introducing the topic of co-design. Then we broke up into groups, with a team member on each. Everyone did activities which were designed to show how co-design works. I think at the end of the workshop the people who participated all understood what codesign was and what it meant.
An example of co-design which I have been involved in is the Social Citizenship Think Thank. In this group, everybody is having input and it is all taken on board. Different people with different backgrounds need to be included and heard in order to get the best answer to a question.
I think that Flourish Australia really understands what it is like for people with a lived experience of mental health issues.
Before my involvement with Flourish Australia I didn’t even fully realise how I was being discriminated against because of my issues. The real estate agent wanted to evict me at one stage, but Flourish advocated for me and said that you can’t treat a person like that! Because of that advocacy, the real estate agent changed its way and since then we have all gotten along really well.
I finally got an NDIS package after being uncertain due to the HASI being taken away. So I still access Flourish Australia’s service at Bathurst. Lisa Harrison helped me out with that. She’s the best!
I was able to arrange transport last year using my NDIS package. I would not have been able to do that under HASI. So although it’s not perfect, the NDIS has enabled me to do things I was unable to do before!
I’m looking forward to the next Social Citizenship Think Tank and to studying for a Certificate IV in Mental Health (Peer Work).
*As told to Warren Heggarty
BELOW: “Different people with different backgrounds need to be included and heard in order to get the best answer to a question,” says Emeritus CAC member Michael Wren. PHOTO BY WARREN HEGGARTY