Lisa Harrison - Senior Cluster Manager

“Knowledge is no load to carry, so acquire all you can and be generous with it on your life journey” – Lisa Harrison

Wise words from Lisa Harrison that sum-up the way she approaches her work and lives her life.  Wholehearted in her commitment to others, Lisa is a woman who gives humbly from the heart to all who have need.  She is valued highly for providing support above and beyond expectation to Flourish Australia Senior Staff and working tirelessly across many and varied remote regions of NSW to facilitate change during uncertain times.

Together with her husband Tony who is very supportive of her work with Flourish Australia, Lisa has tackled a vast range of important projects in remote communities such as Bourke, Brewarrina and Cobar.  She has raised two sons; has four beautiful grandchildren and is upheld by her Flourish Australia family as a wonderful role model and source of encouragement; always urging staff to give their absolute best as a team and grow beyond their positions to advance their individual careers.   She never hesitates to volunteer her time to cook, cater and advocate for those suffering hardships. 

As a Manager, Lisa has had the opportunity to undertake the duties of a Senior Cluster Manager for Flourish Australia, Lisa has come a long way since growing up in the small country town of Coonamble in NSW, where her professional aspirations all began with completion of a hair dressing apprenticeship.

The transition to a community service-based career came with a role at a Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Unit.  This opened doors to working in the Juvenile Justice system where Lisa found her other-focused calling, supporting youths in custody. Positions with Juvenile Justice Centre’s all over NSW followed, including Keelong, Orana in Dubbo, Bidura Children’s Court in Glebe and Worimi in Newcastle; where she managed to complete a university degree while working full time.

It was a work injury that necessitated moving for more than a decade into Human Services at Centrelink where Lisa spearheaded the Drought Program across rural and remote NSW.  This proved to be the most demanding yet rewarding work to that point in her career.

Working closely with remote rural communities at their most vulnerable, Lisa saw clearly the inadequacy of a ‘one size fits all’ approach to community support programs.  She learned a lot about the importance of being respectful of the unique cultural needs and of the elders from each Aboriginal community and became very resourceful; thinking creatively to come up with workable solutions within each community.  Lisa would later apply this practical knowledge in her position with Aboriginal Affairs, raising awareness to Child Aboriginal Sexual Assault – Safe Families.

Lisa has now been with Flourish Australia for six years.  She knows the local communities she supports, intimately and has developed strong social networks.  The best part of her job she says, is sharing in the joy people feel once they reach their life goals.

A career highlight has been being part of the expansion of the Personal Helpers and Mentors program (PHaMS) to Cobar.  The project ensures that this community receives non-clinical Mental Health Services, bringing hope to many people previously isolated from such resources.   In the future, Lisa would like to see a strengthening of community consultation to enable the delivery of systems and services like this, that work to meet the distinct challenges of each individual community. 

With the help of a team of volunteers including her husband, Lisa has played a part in the ACT-Belong-Commit Program with NSW Sport and Recreation, to raise Mental Health awareness through Rugby League. She has actively supported local events like NAIDOC, Mental Health Month, Suicide Awareness “Out of the Shadows into the Light”, RUOK DAY, and a Christmas Day Luncheon.

The opportunity to step up to Senior Cluster Manager was a triumph of personal growth for Lisa personally. She is grateful for the enthusiastic encouragement of the many strong and committed Managers, her Senior Manager Jenny in the Far West / Western Cluster and the organisation around her, who helped fan her belief in her abilities into flame.

The inclusive Flourish Australia work culture has reinforced her belief that building community and the trust and rapport that comes along with it, has a way of freeing people to share their individual stories; confident in the respect and non-judgment of their peers.   Lisa knows that everybody has a story but that only some will share and that often this is due to the trauma and discrimination people have experienced.

“I would never ask any of my staff or anyone seeking our services to do anything that I would not do myself.”  Lisa says. 

She shares her experience and knowledge without reservation as a way of demonstrating to others that “what doesn’t kill you today makes you stronger tomorrow”, helping others to take on board the hope and positivity inherent in that message by sharing something of her own story.

In everything that she does, Lisa inspires others to #PressforProgress in their own lives and careers in whatever speaks to their passion.  She reminds them to take the time to build relationships and rapport along the way and look for the good in people with the understanding that we are each on our own unique journey.

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