Authors: Liz Newton, Jan Corbishly
Event: 2000 TheMHS Conference
Subject: Rehabilitation And Recovery, Therapy, book of proceedings
Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers
Abstract: "Every year one in five Australians over the age of 15 years works as a volunteer" [National Bank Community Link Award Scheme]. Sound familiar! One in five Australians are said to have a mental illness. Many people with a mental illness are also valued volunteers in the community.
The CREATE Team [Community Recreation, Education Access, Training and Employment] of the Ryde Community Mental Health Service employs many volunteers in a variety of settings / roles. Indeed, these people are integral to the smooth running of our service. In our service, volunteer roles include clerical, reception, café work experience, support people, drivers, advocates, resource people and committee members, sometimes leading to paid positions.
Volunteerism has a defined space in rehabilitation. The act of volunteering creates pathways into employment, mainstream agencies and social networks. Developing the role of volunteers enables the individual to improve skills in areas of communication, organisation and work. Volunteering benefits and improves the quality of life for the individual, the organisation and the wider community.
Empowering consumers through a well planned and supported volunteer program, not only assists with community integration but also helps destigmatise mental, illness as consumers emulate mainstream community practices through taking control and responsibility for their recovery.