Friday, 24 February 2012


What an amazing two days I have had and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity.

Tonight on my way home on the tram there was much yelling from one obscenely loud and by presumption only person with mental illness.

I watched everyone shift uncomfortably, look around and pray the person did not sit with them or come near them, lest they take out a screwdriver and fatally stab them in the neck.

The gentleman sat in the seats across from me. I smiled. He called for his mate Liam. An indigenous male late 20's but prematurely aged. The loud gentleman was talking and encouraging his mate and asking after his welfare and then began to talk to me. People look, what will I do??

I talked back as I would politely to any other stranger on the tram. Infact his world and life views were insightful. Liam however could not string too many words together, but he tried, until the lure of his bottle of personally blended vodka and apple beckoned. This upset James the loud person. He asked his mate not to drink

"Mate look around, noone drinks on the tram, you don't need to. Liam mate why would you want to do that, why can't you just participate in society. You don't need to drink, you are an awesome bloke. Just sit here and be me mate and have a yarn."

Unfortunately the alcohol won. I know Liam was really trying to push my buttons, see how uncomfortable it could make me. I don't look like a nurse, I wear no uniform, had he had known his antics  had little effect, who knows how much further he would have upped the anti.

James got off at the same stop as me. He did not want to be around Liam drinking, he did not want to attract that trouble to himself. We had a chat after, he kissed my cheek and called me the epitome of humanity and how I had made his day. That people like me come once in a lifetime and we parted ways.

I felt humbled, what a compliment and what an insightful conversation I would have missed with him if I turned my cheek like everyone else.

The next best part of my last two days was taking part in HWA 2 day workshop in Adelaide. Hearing keen and passionate people who are active in workforce reform.

That it is not the skills people have, but the attitudes and values that they bring to the workforce which are pivotal.

We also got to hear from the keynote speaker Mary O'Hagan - International Innovator, Thinker and Writer on Mental Health.

Her lived experience was touching and poignant and really common sense. However, so much common sense is lost in our modern world as we rely less on our thinking and instincts and more on technology and policy to drive our agendas. She brought care back to the consumer as a fundamentally consumer driven perspective- idealism or a much needed realism?

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