Flourish Australia is on a recognition roll as it delivers employment opportunities for people living with mental health issues across the New England and North West New South Wales.
After receiving the Workplace Inclusion Award at the recent Tamworth Business Chamber Quality Business Awards, Flourish Australia is now in the running for recognition at the New England North West Business Awards being held in Armidale on Friday 21 September. Success at the regional awards would see Flourish Australia make the prestigious NSW Business Chamber awards in Sydney later this year.
The recognition is timely, given that it is five years since Flourish Australia set a target of filling half its internal positions with workers who identify as having a mental health issue. That target was achieved last year.
Flourish Australia currently employs 754 people across New South Wales and Queensland, with 405 having a lived experience of a mental health issue.
Flourish Australia New England North West Manager Jim Booth said the organisations offices and operations in and around Tamworth, Armidale, Inverell and Moree have been at the forefront of the employment drive, with 49 of the 90-strong local work force identifying as having a mental health issue.
“Employment inclusion is our thing and it’s fair to say we’ve been trailblazers utilising the experience of people with mental health issues,” Mr Booth said.
“To think that only a few years back many people who opened up about having mental health issues were stigmatised and shunned. It could be hard to get a job interview let alone enjoy a career. Times have certainly changed when saying you have a mental health issue is a draw-card for employment.
“We proudly boast that we have many local people with mental health issues doing a superb job in the field of not-for-profit mental health support.
“These workers are capable and professional and there’s every chance these employment breaks could be stepping stones for bigger career opportunities.”
Many of Flourish Australia’s ‘lived experience’ positions are filled by ‘peer workers’ - people with mental health issues who are on their own recovery journey and have trained to provide front-line support to people with similar recovery journeys ahead.
Flourish Australia Senior Peer Worker Glenn Botfield, a Psychology Graduate who lives with Schizophrenia, said employment was critical for people living with mental health issues.
“Making a purposeful contribution through work is a golden key to mental wellbeing,” Mr Botfield said.
“It give you a sense of direction and stability and enables vital day-to-day interaction with other people. That’s far better than being isolated, or turning to drugs and crime and ending up in hospital or jail.
“The second win is that I’ve ‘walked the walk’ with mental health issues, so I’m in a good place to connect with and help others who still have a distance to go on their recovery journeys.
“That personal connection can make a staggering difference to someone fighting the sometimes crippling effects of mental unwellness. I love helping people set goals, with a view to living meaningful and independent lives in the community.”
Flourish Australia said that one in four people in any 12 month period will experience a mental health issue, and one in two people will be managing a mental health issue at some stage in their lives.
Flourish Australia is a leading provider of National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) packages for people in need of mental health support.