Mark's Story

Being the representative for my region in the EAC, I contributed to decision-making processes, giving me a feeling of purpose

I live in Bondi, an iconic location in Australia, and I’m lucky enough to be able to bodyboard and swim at the beach during the summer. I’m a fun and social guy, and I’ve really enjoyed connecting with the Buckhouse drop-in centre where I have worked. I’ve also been involved in bike riding, touch footy, yoga and the Pre-Employ program.

My journey began around seven years ago. I found out about some work opportunities at Buckhouse through a friend at my local church. I started as a waiter, looking after customers, taking orders, waiting on tables and setting up. If I ever needed help with anything I could turn to the peer workers for support. Before I knew it, I was promoted to kitchen assistant. Here I learnt basic food preparation like washing vegetables, mixing salads, making sandwiches, washing dishes, pots and pans, and cleaning the kitchen.

When my contract ended, I transitioned to Pre-Employ where I worked at Platform 10, which was a conference centre in Redfern. I had a range of duties like, setting up the conference rooms, food placement, coffee and tea organisation. From there I started at OSTARA (DES) to consider open employment opportunities in hospitality and food preparation. Then an opportunity at Prestige Packaing, Marrickville, became available and I jumped at it. Here I’m learning new skills such as using the pallet jack, weighing products, stacking pallets and using the tape gun to tape boxes securely. I’ve been working here for around five years.

I continue to learn new skills. It was a peer worker that taught me how to operate the kitchen at Marrickville. So now, I love working 2-3 days a week doing a variety of jobs like: preparing tea and coffee; taking orders for morning tea and lunch; money handling; distributing orders; washing kitchenware; cleaning kitchen tables and floors; and ensuring the kitchen is set for use for the next day.

Work gives me a sense of purpose and I feel focused. It also gives me independence as I’m earning my own money, and I can save up to go on a cruise, which I’ve done five times! I’ve also completed a Certificate 3 in Warehousing. This program was run onsite, and I graduated in June 2017. 

I have received a lot of support from Flourish Australia staff and they encourage me to continue participating. I’ve been involved in the Employee Advisory Committee over the last two years. I was the Chairman, and I represented the Marrickville worksite. This gave me an opportunity to contribute to the decision-making processes on the Committee. It gave me a real purpose and I felt confident participating. I recently I passed over the reins to a fellow peer worker at our Warwick Farm site.

I’m on my recovery journey, but I feel like I have a way to go. I still feel anxious, but I understand that it is bit by bit, and I’ll get there. I feel more connected to the community now, I have a support group around me, and I have taken steps to build my confidence. By participating and contributing to the community, representing my colleagues in a professional manner, and maintaining friendships have all helped me become the person I am today. 

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