Clare Evan’s Story

I’ve been privileged to work alongside high achievers in this world who refuse to be defined by a diagnosis.
Clare Evan

Seeing the difference that having a job can make in a person’s recovery journey fuels my commitment to improving and diversifying our employment services so that we can meet the needs of everyone who approaches us.

My work involves reaching out to professional networks and people with a lived experience providing information about the various employment services that Flourish Australia offers. These services include mental health specialised supported employment at our Community Businesses, support to access open employment through Flourish Australia DES and discrete programs such as our Supported Placement Program. Every day is different,

I present at forums, attend networking events, meet with representatives from other organisations, host stalls at expos throughout the year and engage with people who access our services, or may wish to. Many of our referrals come from professionals within other organisations such as Community Mental Health Services, Mental Health Units, Government Agencies, TAFEs and other not for profits, but I am particularly passionate about encouraging self-referral so, as much as possible, I like to ensure that information is also available in public spaces such as community centres, libraries and shopping centres. I believe that making choices about how to progress your employment journey should be a personal and empowering experience.  

Within my role at Flourish Australia I have also had the wonderful opportunity to contribute to diversifying and improving our employment services. Supported employment is NDIS funded which means people are choosing our services so it’s important to ensure that our programs are leading-edge and provide the best possible recovery-focused experience. I have had the privilege of coordinating our Supported Placement Program that offers people an open workforce experience with individually tailored mental health support. This program is small in scale, but I have seen a number of people reach, and exceed, their own employment expectations which has been very rewarding. Last year I co-presented a paper at the TheMHS Conference with one of the participants in this program. To hear him confidently presenting and expressing his achievements in his own words was definitely a highlight of my career with Flourish Australia.

I am also really excited that my proposal to provide School Leavers Employment Supports (SLES) has been given the go ahead for trial. Services that address the employment needs of young people is an issue close to my heart as my own teenage years were troubled. My goal with Flourish Australia is to see us provide an ever-more diverse range of employment services so that we can meet the needs of everyone who approaches us and keep building on the successes we are seeing. Seeing the difference that having a job can make to a person’s recovery journey is incredibly rewarding. 

I maintain my own wellness through my yoga practice which brings balance to my life. I first took it up as a body beautiful thing but found it was turning me into a calmer person and I no longer experienced such negative reactions to life stresses. As a yoga instructor, I have to find that point of calm, deep within myself, regardless of what has gone on in my day before teaching that class. The students will sense it if I am distracted or on edge. It’s a discipline I draw on during stressful work days to bring me back to balance and stay grounded so I move through challenges more efficiently.

Approaching life with a sense of curiosity is important to me. We can become a bit jaded by our day-today walk but staying fully present in each moment makes my experience of life richer. In Eastern philosophy, it’s considered healthy to experience the full range of emotions so I calmly observe my emotions as they come and go, but living this way hasn’t always come naturally.

My undergraduate degree was in Social Sciences and I took up social work while assisting at a library on weekends, which I enjoyed, so I embarked on a post graduate degree in Information and Knowledge Management. Various librarian roles followed and after 12 years I moved into a marketing role, where I was doing the marketing and events for seven libraries and a community centre for Willoughby City Council. It was a demanding role, marketing all programs, coordinating author talks and events, managing a small team of staff and up to 20 volunteers at any one time. I was putting in long hours and my physical and emotional health was affected. I had reached a point where I needed to hit re-set in my life when this position with Flourish Australia presented and seemed to fit my mixed bag of experience. 

I now work 4 days a week for Flourish Australia and teach yoga a couple of evenings a week. My life is in balance, I have time for my family and it feels good to be contributing to the wellbeing of other people through the work that I do. The work culture here is very encouraging of new innovation and the recovery viewpoint brings such optimism to what we do. Mental health issues are never regarded as a cross to bear or a disability and diagnosis is not considered a life sentence.  I’m proud to play a part in supporting people to create contributing lives for themselves by going after their hopes and dreams.

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