Julie, NSW - At Flourish Australia I’ve found a foundation where I can thrive, through my part in a workplace I very much care about

I’m a values driven person, raised with a strong sense of social justice. My parents did not have a lot. Experiencing the kindness of people around them, accepting help when needed and giving to others when they could, became integral to who they are. My journal from the fifth grade is all about making sure every person and dog has a home!

My home town is in North West Florida. I gained a scholarship with Tulane University in New Orleans, then studied at Sydney College of Fine Arts for a year in 2003.

An encounter with a wombat altered the course of my future.

Starting out in NFP, at a children’s museum in Baltimore, my love of wombats led to co-workers calling my birthday ‘wombat day’. My fascination with them inspired my move to Australia in 2016, where I secured my dream job with the University of Sydney, running their annual team giving.

What I love about workplace giving is that it’s democratised. People give what they feel they can.

When I saw that Flourish Australia were building their workplace giving, I felt this was an ideal career fit, where my strengths would thrive, while keeping my values intact.

The need surrounding mental health really appeals to my passion for making a difference in the world. I have my own lived experience. Mental health issues are not understood or freely discussed in my family. My symptoms were written off as me being ‘moody’ or not trying hard enough.

In the past, I threw myself into my work as a way of pushing down what I was feeling. My wellbeing suffered and I now prioritise nutrition and physical health.

Former bosses have viewed my symptoms as reflective of poor performance, so the interview with Flourish Australia was a defining moment for me. I laid out my mental health issues and waited for their faces to change, but they said ‘good for you, it takes a lot to say something like that in an interview’.

I love being able to bring my whole self to work each day. It makes me want to give my all to supporting the wonderful work they do.

I’ve been wonderfully supported through changes in medication and diagnoses and have the flexibility I need to take time to get on top of things on tough days. What motivates me now is my desire to see everyone have access to the same support I’ve benefited from. I want to see more places where we can talk about lived experience and it’s valued!

I practice gratitude and giving, by making small donations from each pay check to the work Flourish Australia do and to Sleepy Borough Wildlife Sanctuary. I believe wholeheartedly in the work they both do.