“I tell my story to be inspired and to inspire others.”
Disability Employment Services
John – working at Australia Post
I began looking for other employment a little while back and when I came across this job at Australia Post, Open Minds helped me apply for it. It’s good to be employed at Australia Post.
I enjoy working here and I get along with the staff members. The managers are brilliant and have treated me very well. I am very happy with this position; it’s something that I wanted and Open Minds was able to help me achieve this. I have been working for Australia Post for six months and am now looking to work full time here.
David & Jennifer – Australia Post HR Managers
We were very impressed with William, so much so we offered him a permanent position. Employing John worked out very well; his work performance is at a level we are happy with, and he certainly fits in with our work culture. He is very committed to the job and sometimes comes in early to get himself prepared for the day. He also has a wonderful rapport with the drivers. John’s responsibilities are centred on streaming the mail into where it needs to go and identifying if there is express post items included that shouldn’t be there. He is an integral part of the process and it is important for us to get this part of the job right.
The support Open Minds has offered has been good. We have been able to seek advice from them and the result has been a very collaborative approach to supporting John. John has also been able to communicate his concerns through the right channels, making sure that no one party was left out. This is very important to us.
Jesse – working at NAIRN Constructions
Jesse transitioned from a mental health extended treatment facility to independent living in 2009 with the support of Open Minds through the Housing and Support Program (HASP). One of the many goals Jesse identified when developing his Individual Recovery Plan was to gain employment. Jesse’s Support Worker connected him with Open Minds Employment Services who supported Jesse to further explore his vocational goals. Only a few months after linking with our Employment Services, Jesse successfully gained employment with Nairn Constructions, a role which he loves. “I enjoy working at the construction site because the managers have been good and have taught me a lot about my job, so that I can make sure that everybody’s work runs smoothly throughout the day. Open Minds has found me work which involves training and they arranged for my transport to the job site. They did the training with me and have given me ideas on how to be an efficient worker and it’s good that they come on to the work site with you for the first couple of days. Open Minds come to my work once a week to have a meeting and continue to help me with my pay slips and superannuation. Since being with Open Minds I can now work better and I am learning different skills on the work site. It feels very good to be employed now”, says Jesse.
Jay – working at BWS
When looking for my job, my Employment Consultant was there to help me. I can fix a computer but due to my Aspergers I find difficult to do all of the technical details in applying for a job, so I was given help to sort that out. My Employment Consultant helped prepare me for interviews by running mock interviews. Since starting with Open Minds I have matured, I’ve become more professional and I’ve learnt to socialize and be more sociable.
Working at BWS I handle everything from the registers to stock handling and accounting, closing, cash counting, cleaning; just whatever needs to be done. I’ve now won an award for the “Best in the entire SE Qld region for Mystery Shopper” which is an outstanding achievement.
I have now been with Open Minds for 15 months and have been employed at BWS for 12 months. My manager’s are very supportive. They are what you would want from managers at a company. If there was ever anytime I had an issue that needed to be addressed, my Employment Consultant has also responded instantly. Between my managers and my Employment Consultant, I have no issues at all.
For a new client I would tell them there’s no shame in asking for help, if it wasn’t for Open Minds I wouldn’t have a job.
Steven – working at Veterinary Specialist Services (VSS)
I signed up with Open Minds employment services in 2006 and I got a position at the RSPCA, where I worked five hours a day, five days a week for six months. One of the Employment Consultants from Open Minds put in a job application for me to VSS. It was my first proper job in 12 years and my manager here, gave me this opportunity. My employer and Open Minds have been supporting me all the way through. I’ve had set backs, depression again, thinking about suicide, or losing the plot some might say. I’ve experienced a lot of trauma in my life. Since I’ve been here for four years, Open Minds have come to see me once a month or I’ve rang them and said, “I need to see you, I need to talk to someone,” and they’ve always been there.
Open Minds has taught me to respect myself, no matter how little or small a goal you go for and you succeed, give yourself a pat on the back. They helped me how to start my life again, and not be so critical of myself. I’d like to give some hope which I hope will lead to something bigger and better to a new client of Open Minds. I’d tell them to never give up on themselves. I’ve given up a few times and I seemed to have bounced back with the support given to me at Open Minds. With support, even just a phone call or someone talking to you it can change your mind set and you’ll survive. Without anyone helping you, you’ll have to do it by yourself and that makes it 10 times harder. I’d tell all the people that come to Open Minds, don’t ever give up on yourself because Open Minds will never give up on you. Even when I was at my lowest, they always had hope, and that’s one thing I’ll always appreciate.
When I started I didn’t think it was going to work out as well as it had. Six years ago I wouldn’t have given myself any chance of finding a job let alone keeping it. There are a lot of great support people at Open Minds who have helped me along the way. I’ve come back from absolutely rock bottom to what I’ve achieved till today. Staff at VSS have told me they appreciate everything I do. I get along with all the nurses and other staff members, and I’m treated very well. They’ve told me, “Don’t ever go.” People ask me where I work, and I say VSS, and they ask, “Good money?”And I say, “Money? It’s actually a really good job.”
Nicole and Family – ABI Support Service
Nicole woke up one morning in November 2009 with an excruciating pain in her head. As she rarely ever had headaches, she went to see her doctor where was diagnosed with viral meningitis, and was rushed to the hospital for treatment. Further investigations revealed that she had developed herpes simplex encephalitis (a cold sore on the brain) which caused damage to her short term memory retention capacity. Nicole was then admitted to the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit (BIRU) at the Princess Alexandra Hospital, where she stayed for 8 months.
The effects of the encephalitis first became evident when Nicole’s husband, Brad, went to see her in hospital and she did not recognize who he was. “I had to show Nicole my licence to prove who I was,” recalls Brad. Nicole had a memory span of just 30 seconds. Witnessing the rapid change in Nicole’s ability to retain her memory has taken its toll on the whole family. Speaking of their daughters’ strength, Brad describes their resilience, “despite the unbelievable circumstances at a very young age, they’ve just been fantastic, they’ve been absolutely gold”.
Nicole has been an inspiration to her two children and everyone who has come in contact with her. Despite the enormous challenge she has been dealt, she has taken it in her stride and always with a genuine smile. Her determination and desire to overcome her injury is an example of the ability of the human spirit to overcome adversity. “In her own way I think she’s teaching her kids a lesson she could have never taught them if she was well”, says Brad.
Once she was able to leave the rehabilitation unit, Nicole moved back to her home. For the past four months, 5 days a week, Open Minds has been on hand to continue her rehabilitation. “We now have the tremendous services of Open Minds and the team there looking after Nicole at home and she has made tremendous progress, their actions could not have been better”, says Brad. According to Brad, “Nicole is thriving being back in her home environment. Her memory span has gone from 30 seconds to 5 to 10 minutes. Most people don’t think that’s a lot but it’s made a massive difference. She’s now more relaxed and has quickly picked up on who the Support Workers are. They’re fantastic people and I certainly take my hat off to them. It’s wonderful knowing there are people in the world who want to take on some of her duties, because we would be absolutely lost without them.”
Open Minds Support Workers work closely with Nicole’s clinical rehab team and have been engaging Nicole in memory tasks to help improve her memory span and strategies to help her carry out daily tasks. Nicole has made significant improvement since coming home. She now knows her way around her home and is becoming more confident carrying out household tasks. Carrying out an activity such as unpacking the dishwasher and knowing where the dishes go has been a significant achievement for Nicole and reflects the improvements she is making on a daily basis.
“The Open Minds Support Workers have been exceptionally supportive, and I would not have been where I am today without their help”, says Nicole. “Receiving support from Open Minds has not only given Nicole her life back, but it certainly saved the quality of my life and the quality of the kids’ lives”, says Brad.
Nanek and John – ABI Support Service
Nanek and John are residents of a purpose built Brisbane Housing Company development in New Farm. Residents in the 10 studio apartment complex are supported by Open Minds.
Following a serious car accident, Nanek was hospitalized for two and-a-half months, and soon after leaving hospital he found it difficult to maintain his private tenancy and independent lifestyle. He came to the attention of Open Minds while living in a hostel and in 2004, when Open Minds partnered with BHC to provide support services at the newly built New Farm development, he was able to move into a brand new studio apartment. He had his own kitchen and bathroom facilities, and was able to live a safe, secure and independent life with access to 24-hour care if required. Nanek is now a regular at the local gym, makes regular trips on a public on public and does his own shopping. His progress has been such that last year he entered a transitional employment program cleaning cars and facilities at a service centre, and this year he is hoping to start a numeracy and literacy course at the local TAFE.
John is also a resident at the New Farm development and his story has some similarities to Nanek. In September 1992 he was working as a courier in Victoria and while walking back to his van, he was hit by a car. He was left in a coma for three months and spent the next two years in hospital. John had severe memory loss and needed intensive support; on discharge he went home to live with his Mother and Stepfather. John had also sustained severe back and leg injuries and his doctor felt he would benefit from a warmer climate. He moved to Queensland initially to stay with his father, with the view to buying his own unit. John had his life back on track but in 2000 tragedy struck again. At a local nightclub John assisted a female companion from unwanted attention and was set upon and badly beaten for his troubles. The result was another two years in hospital recovering from injuries that affected his sight and caused further brain injury. His doctor referred John to Open Minds and twelve months ago he was able to move into the New Farm residence. He now regularly attends Church and enjoys ten pin bowling and billiards at the local PCYC.
Both Nanek and John say that they enjoy the friendship of their fellow residents, and their independence, especially the regular Friday evening get together and BBQ.
Kerrie – client of Lifestyle Support Services
I have been a client of Open Minds since 1995 – since then I have grown a lot, I’ve matured a lot, I’ve learnt a lot, I’m more experienced and I know I have a lot of skills and potential to do many of the things I want to do in life. My Support Workers have helped me to grow. They’ve become good people in my life, they’ve helped me to budget and they’ve helped me to slow down my life because I used to rush around a lot. They’ve helped support me through my bad days and good days, and have been someone to lean on when I’m crying. I don’t have my parents around anymore, so I like to talk to them because they’re easy to talk to and they understand me. I had a Support Worker who was with me for 10 years, a wonderful person – she really did the trick for me.
For 10 years I was in and out of hospital and she was always there. It was really great to know that there was someone there for me when I really needed it. Open Minds has always been there, not only for me, but for other clients. My Support Worker and I have lunch in the park and go bush walking and shopping and we go to the Carina Leagues Club once a month for lunch.
Open Minds has really changed since I first started with the program in 1995. When I started with Open Minds it was a small office with 12 people and probably about 50 clients and I’ve watched it grow and I watched Open Minds move house over 3 times.
For any new clients that are joining Open Minds, I would tell them to hang in there. Open Minds will be there to support you while you’re unwell and in your recovery which means you’re not alone, especially if you don’t have family around it’s really good to know that Open Minds is there to you live life again.
I really want to travel now and I want to see my daughter more often. I want to go to the UK, as I have ties there. Thank you Open Minds for supporting me since 1995, and I know you’re getting bigger and better all the time.
Kevin – client of Lifestyle Support Services
Since receiving support with Open Minds my life has changed and they’ve done wonders for me. I feel much better now, whereas before I was always depressed. I was really happy when Open Minds started helping me. I enjoy the support I’m receiving, and I’ve built strong relationships with my Support Workers.
Since getting support from Open Minds I’ve now got a roof over my head, they’ve helped me furnish my accommodation – they’ve helped me tremendously, and still do. My Support Worker has helped to shop, budget and use the bus. I’m now living a more independent life than before and I even cook for myself.
If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be doing half the stuff I do now. Everything has worked out better than I ever thought it would. I am now looking for work through Open Minds’ Employment Services and my goal is to start working and become totally independent.
Robert – client of Lifestyle Support Services
I grew up in Canberra and moved to Brisbane in October 1997. I became a client of Open Minds in 1999 and was initially supported 7 days a week. Since that time I have been recovering and I’m only being supported 3 days a week.
Being with Open Minds I’ve learnt to live a more independent life. My Support Worker has taught me how to shop smart, helped me with budgeting, helped me move into housing and also set me up with white goods. I’ve also learnt cooking skills and I think I’m even cooking up too much now!
My goal now is to go back to focus on my studies and complete my HSC. For anyone just beginning their journey at Open Minds, I would tell them to look forward to it. Open Minds are always there for me; whenever I need some help they’re the first people I contact, they never falter on the impressions they give you. They don’t ever judge, and they’re always true to their word. The Support Workers are passionate about what they do.
Barry – Residential Support Service – a story from his sister Jeanine
Barry had been a client of Open Minds Residential Service for 7 months before he sadly passed away in early 2010. Barry had Down syndrome and had lived with his parents in their family home all his life until transitioning into one of Open Minds co-tenanted homes in Doolandella. Barry’s sister, Jeanine, describes Barry’s time with Open Minds.
When Mum got very sick and went to hospital and then a nursing home we were suddenly in a family crisis and it was particularly traumatic for Barry. We received emergency care at home for Barry through Disability Services. Then after considering some option we were fortunate to be introduced to Open Minds. At first I worried that Barry would have difficulty in making the transition but it was empowering for him. He said to me, “I have my own house and my own stuff’. He paid rent and had a telephone bill for the first time in his life. I was impressed with how Open Minds handled Barry’s transition into a house with two older men, who also required high-level support and care, right from the outset. I introduced my own children to Barry’s house which had some nice surprises. My 11 year old son loved to visit Barry and sometimes mowed their lawn and they would all thank him and have a cup of tea together. It was a steep learning curve but I was so proud of how Barry managed the transition. Open Minds helped Barry stay connected with his mother, supporting him to call her every night and visit her in the nursing home three times a week. I am so pleased we landed were we did. Without it, life would have been very difficult. Your family member is someone you love and value, and knowing Barry was well cared for when mum got sick, I was able to sleep at night.
Personal Helpers and Mentors Program (PHaMs)
Anna – Bayside PHaMs participant
On 9th August on the ABC’s ‘Four Corners’ an eminent person in the mental health sector said that for the average person, trying to find help in times of mental health crises and then ongoing support, was like the odds of winning the lottery. Having been down this road, I totally agree. In my case, I won the lottery when I was fortunate enough to be included as a client of Open Minds. And I must add that this was far more important than winning the lottery. The practical support saved my life. I never shared with my mentor at the time, nor anyone else, that I was having a daily affair. A dark romance with the suicide demon. A solace from the pain and grief of life, that lasted over two years and one occasion nearly ended in my demise.
Having a positive and understanding mentor at Open Minds over the past two years has been akin to wearing a life jacket while adrift in a foggy, dark, menacing sea. Without it I would have gone under. The support I have received from Open Minds has helped me to re-establish my life. And even though that life is different, I have been able to accept my circumstances. I am enjoying expressive art and learning to use pastels. When the weather’s good I now take to the sea in my lime green kayak. There is plenty of life to be lived on the other side of loss and depression.
Jason – Inner Brisbane PHaMs participant
Before I was being helped by Open Minds, I was living on the streets. My PHaMs Worker saved my life. He helped me move forward and helped me get my medication which was my main concern. He also managed to find me stable bedding for the time being. We are currently working on getting into a housing commission house. My goal is to get my own gardening business up and running and mow lawns for a living. I really enjoy gardening and I’ve taken many courses in horticulture and agriculture. I hope to raise enough funds to help poor people living on the street.
For a new client, I would tell them if they’re looking for help, Open Minds is a good place to be and they’ll give you the help you need. I’d never have expected it work out as well as it has and my PHaMs Worker has been extremely helpful and understanding from the first day. In the last 4 weeks my life has changed dramatically. My PHaMs Worker has taught me to stay on the ball and keep at it and keep trying, he’s taught me with a bit of support I can become more independent. He’s helped me kick nearly all my goals in one whack.
Do It Club
Karen – Do It Club Peer Rep
I was a girl from the country and when I finished high school I went into nursing at the PA Hospital where I graduated a nursing sister. I began working as a community health worker but after about six months I got into a life threatening car accident. I sustained head injuries and broke quite a few bones and suffered an ABI. The injuries I have suffered have impacted my life so severely, my marital status changed, my living accommodation changed, my independence changed by not being able to drive anymore. I was a totally new person and a lot of my old friends didn’t want to associate with me because they felt I was different. I have finally managed to accept it, and I’ve fought all the way. I am now working as a Peer Rep for Do It Club at Open Minds as well as doing work experience at Target. I am looking after the employment side of Do It Club to help show clients what they can do to find employment. It feels great to be part of Do It Club and it lets me give back to those who are in need of support. I am visually challenged, but there are more people out there more challenged than I am who are also trying to find work. One day, I hope to end up working as a Support Worker for Open Minds.
Tony – Do It Club Peer Rep
I’m a Peer Rep with Do It Club, we meet once a month and I was put forward in the group to represent the ABI clients. I think it’s a great opportunity, it’s exciting, and it’s already opening doors by getting to hear other people’s stories about what they’ve been through.
The opportunity to get out there and organise events allows me to give back to the community. It’s a great opportunity to get out there and do something good for other people. It’s also good for us as individuals who find it helpful for regular get-togethers and talking about what we’re going through and what’s happening. I am really keen to get involved and help out. The other Peer Reps and I are enthusiastic about being able to participate.
Leanne – Do It Club Peer Rep
I’ve been a client with OM for 20 years in the Lifestyle Support Services program, and have been working in Do It Club for the last two years.
At first I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but then a few years ago I decided I wanted to help out and get involved with Open Minds. I wanted to help set up events where people with a mental illness can get out and start having some fun.
Do It Club has helped me to meet new people. I’ve had a few ups and downs and when I needed to talk to somebody, Open Minds Support Workers have always been there. There were some issues I was having and so I went to Open Minds to sort it out and I was very happy about the way in which it was handled. Being part of Do It Club allows me to actively get involved in helping people with mental illness.
To learn more about these programs, click HERE