Volunteering With Simone

By VMIAC’s NDIS Appeals and Reviews Advocate, Simone

If any consumer wanted to get into volunteering I would say definitely give it go! It is great for your mental health, getting you out of the house, meeting new people and building new skills. It’s very rewarding. Volunteering, especially if you haven’t been working for a long period of time like myself, doesn’t have the pressure of a paid job.  Do some research and see what your interests are and then go for it.   

My name is Simone and I am a single mother of two children, who are my pride and joy, and my two pets. My friend group isn’t large but they are dear and loyal to me and love me unconditionally.

I have a lived experienced of mental health of 22 years and after being affected by Black Saturday in 2009 I concentrated on my family and my mental health, which was heavily impacted on and I was unemployed for seven years. I felt I had lost all my skills and confidence. It was through my own inspiration, determination and desire to work in the mental health industry I volunteered and studied the Diploma of Mental Health.     

I do many things like run a household and parent. I exercise by walking the dog and doing physio exercises. I love listening to music and catching up with friends. I am into cooking and I love getting away or seeing live music. A very therapeutic thing for me is practicing mindfulness and journaling

I am currently employed at VMIAC as an NDIS Appeals and Review Advocate and an eCPR trainer and work four days a week       

I have volunteered in a number of places like Whittlesea Community Connections – Legal Services; Sunshine Hospital psychiatric ward; and Mind Australia – PALs program.

At Whittlesea Community Connections I did administration tasks, reception, interviews with clients on intake. I did this for four hours a week.

At Sunshine Hospital psychiatric ward worked for six hours a week on peer support work, group facilitation, case notes and staff meetings.

At Mind Australia for two hours a fortnight I organised activities for the client in the community and met with the client, reporting to the coordinator.   

Personally, I volunteered to get me out of isolation and into the community after years of being only involved with home duties. My ambition was to learn, upskill and gain my confidence back with my desire to work in mental health, and use my life experience as an asset.   

Volunteering is very rewarding and fulfilling. It gave me many skills and opportunities to engage with people both on a client and professional basis. The mentoring and opportunities were life changing. It gave me a purpose and confidence that I did not feel I had before. Volunteering gave me direction and a sense of self worth that I was supporting others. I met many inspirational people and gained so much knowledge that you won’t gain from a textbook. 

The only difficult thing about volunteering was the financial expenses of travel and childcare while being in a single income family. There were some weeks I didn’t know if I would be able to attend due to not having any money.

Volunteering really helped my career because when I applied for a scholarship through VMIAC to go to Auckland I highlighted my volunteering, training and various courses I had done in my application I was accepted. The CEO, offered me a short-term position on reception that led me to applying for other roles within the organisation and I am now grateful to say I have been employed by VMIAC since 2016.