Anissa's Story

What drew me to want to work with Flourish Australia is that they value people’s lived experience. The way that Peer and Mental Health Workers relate to and work with the people they support is very different to a clinical setting and it’s very powerful!

I studied Clinical Psychology, because I’ve always been fascinated by the human mind, I want to understand why people do the things they do, and gained some experience working in admin roles for private psych clinics.  People I worked with had been linked in with Flourish Australia so I was intrigued by what they had to say, so I googled it, and their approach really appealed to me.

As soon as I completed my degree, I put in an expression of interest for a Mental Health Worker role with Flourish Australia that would give me hands-on experience, working directly with people.  I was drawn to the idea of peer support, which is what sets them apart.  Some of the people accessing our services have limited support outside of our service, which is quite different to what I’d previously experienced working in the private sector. To see the impact that Support Workers can have on a person’s life by helping out with basic tasks such as getting to appointments, grocery shopping and social activities, is really incredible.

Since starting here with the HASI Program, back in June, my days revolve around outreach to people in their homes and assisting with community access. Supporting people to be able to live meaningful, independent lives in their community, rather than being in hospital, is such rewarding work.

The needs of the various people I work with are all so different. There is no ‘one size fits all’ formula to prescribe for the change they each want to achieve in their lives.  I enjoy getting to know what drives each of them so I can connect them with the best services and opportunities for their needs and work together with them toward goals that have meaning for them.

From an employee perspective, the work culture here is so nurturing. The team I work with are all very close which helps me to stay resilient when dealing with challenging situations. Knowing I am fully supported by the people around me and can de-brief with them whenever I need to, brings me back to balance after a hectic day out in the community.

Working this way has given me so much to think about, fresh out of university.  I love seeing that I have made a difference to someone’s life just by being there for them.  The NDIS has become a priority for many of the people I work with and I was able to come alongside one person on that journey, who can now afford the support they need to get involved in their community and maintain their home.  It’s made such a positive shift in their day-to-day experience of life and the fact that they were able to choose the specific services they wanted meant so much to them, in itself.

When I was younger, friends in my circle struggled with mental health issues and I became acutely aware of the lack of information or practical support accessible to them.  That’s what inspired me to want to be part of making care and answers more available to young people having those experiences.  There’s no doubt things are moving in the right direction with Mental Health being talked about more in the community, but there is more work to be done.

The Peer Workers are so great at modelling how being open about our lived experience can help facilitate that necessary shift in social attitudes. Peer Workers bring to their work something very personal and powerful, that you can’t get from a text book.  Genuine empathy can be life changing for someone who has become resigned to feeling misunderstood or marginalised and I respect that the Peer Workers will only share their insight in as much as it will have meaning for someone else.

My experiences working in this role have been invaluable to me in the early stages of my career. I’m not sure where my sights are set yet but I would like to continue developing my skills and travel to gain more life experience and insight into different groups of people.

For now, I think it’s awesome to have been invited to share my story for Flourish Australia’s International Women’s Day Campaign and show my support for women in the workforce everywhere!

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