STRONGER TOGETHER: Harmony Week - Everyone Belongs

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"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses Harmony Week 2023.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

This week, Australia celebrates Harmony Week – a week-long celebration of the wonderful cultural diversity of our country.

Diversity is at the heart of Australia’s identity as a nation, with more than half of all Australians being born overseas or having at least one parent who was born overseas.

Harmony Week is the perfect opportunity to engage in meaningful conversations around diversity and multiculturalism; we’re all united by the Aussie values of respect, freedom, fairness, equal opportunity and democracy. It’s also a wonderful opportunity for all Australians to embrace cultural diversity and celebrate what we have in common.

People from many different cultures make wonderful and valuable contributions to our community every day, and we should be proud of our strong and successful multicultural society.

Last year, IMPACT Community Services was named as one of the 30 most inclusive employers in Australia, and as the Managing Director of this organisation I couldn’t be more proud. It’s not just about talking the talk, it’s about real respect and belonging for all.

It is about sharing details about ourselves, what is unique and important to us. It is about opening ourselves up to listening and learning about the perspectives of others, and not just as a courtesy. Actually putting aside any personal bias, opinion and beliefs and being curious about the differences in others and how this difference can support our own backgrounds, growth and experience. Genuinely appreciating these differences without judgement and considering how others wisdom, worldviews and experiences can complement our own.  

We want IMPACT to be a place where every single employee feels safe, valued and included, and that means continually working on making our workplaces and sites an inclusive environment where everyone is accepted. Sounds easy however the reality is that some days achieving this feels incredibly ambitious. We therefore need to remain focused and committed, never losing sight of its importance and ensuring that each of our team share the same commitment.

Share an aspect of your culture with your friends, family and colleagues. Be open to learning something new about the people in your lives and your communities.

Create space to have meaningful conversations that explore the richness of others perspectives, while celebrating and embracing your own uniqueness.

Together, we can create change that eliminates all forms of racial discrimination.

Bundaberg woman Sharen Roberts has found the ability to believe in herself again thanks to IMPACT Community Services’ WORKFit program.

After experiencing some near misses while working as a coal train driver, Sharen was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and given an ultimatum from her employer – quit or we’ll fire you. Sharen was fired and left to deal with the aftermath of the experiences she had gone through.

“I was in a really bad mindset once I’d finished the WorkCover,” Sharen said.

I had no confidence and I was very resistant in going to work with anyone where I thought there was any possibility of my life being in jeopardy.”

Sharen’s doctor gave her a letter stating that she did not need to work due to her mental health, but despite this she felt the need to return to the workforce.

“I really wanted to get myself back on track,” she said.

“I didn’t want to feel like a victim and a bludger, all those things that my generation say – you don’t go on Centrelink, you don’t ask for charity. And that’s what I felt I was, and that was also affecting my self-respect and the image I had of myself.”

Sharen enrolled in JobActive, now Workforce Australia, through IMPACT Community Services, and was a few sessions in when she was offered the opportunity to join a new voluntary program called WORKFit. Keen to do whatever she could to make a change, Sharen eagerly put her hand up to take part.

WORKFit is a flexible four stage program designed to provide participants with the tools needed to develop skills and improve their employability. It provides one-on-one support to access a range of external support for resilience, online learning and resume creation to give participants the confidence to progress in their job-seeking journey.

Sharen started working through the WORKFit program, undertaking resilience coaching with Adaptable Mentor Jonathan Bailey and working on her resume with WORKFit coach Jeanette Perry.

During this time, a job as a Specimen Collector for QML was advertised – a role she had previously considered but lacked the confidence to apply for. One of the barriers Sharen had to overcome was that she had only ever done one job interview before, and it had been a negative experience despite getting the job.

“My WORKFit coaches had done some mock interviews with me, and it made me feel more relaxed and a bit more confident,” she said.

Sharen, who previously spent 27 years as a registered nurse before changing careers, applied online to QML and was quickly invited in for an interview, where she was offered the job on the spot.

That was in July 2021, and she has been working for QML since.

Initially, Sharen worried about patients wanting her to move faster, but she went back to the techniques she learned in the WORKFit Program to help her face this new challenge.

“Jonathan and Jeanie gave me the confidence to assert myself without being aggressive, I am generally quite passive, but I have learnt it’s okay to stand my ground,” Sharen said.

“If I’ve got two people in the waiting room and they’re getting grumpy then so be it. Once I got over that and went back to what Jonathan was teaching us in the sessions – I’ve got this job, they believe in me that I can do it, and I should stop trying to please all these people that were bossing me around, I managed better.”

“I had to say I’m the boss in here, I’ve got to make sure I do the job right, you don’t want to have to come back because I’ve made a mistake. You don’t know what’s going on in this little room. You’re in the waiting room, so take your time, sit down and wait until I come out. Once I’d got my mindset to that I could do that, I was okay.”

Adaptable Mentor Jonathan Bailey said Sharen took part in WORKFit’s resilience workshops and embraced the process from the start.

“One of the greatest pleasures was seeing Sharen grow in her own confidence and self-belief,” he said.

“I personally believe that sometimes it was just knowing that she had a supportive team around her and knowing if she had a question or was seeking some advice then the WORKFit team were only a phone call or email away.”

Jonathan said getting to know WORKFit participants and their past experiences was essential to the success of the program and ability to improve participants’ lives.

“Building up a relationship, creating that rapport, is important because within that comes trust. Once the trust is there we can continue to work together, making steps forward, tackling those personal barriers.”

Sharen believes she wouldn’t have been able to return to work when she did if it wasn’t for IMPACT’s WORKFit program.

“If I hadn’t have done this course and been given the ability to believe in myself and understand what resilience is, I wouldn’t be working now,” she said, adding that you need to be understand what your challenges are before you can overcome them, something WORKFit helped her with.

Sharen firmly believes that anyone can change their life, but you have to put the work in to make that change happen.

“You’ve got to want to do it,” she said.

“If you don’t want to do it, then nothing will change. If you don’t want to be there and you don’t want to get anything out of it, then it’s not going to do anything for you.”

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses building your personal resilience.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

There is no questioning that life is full of ups and downs. But why is it that some of us give into adversity and fall at the first hurdle while others are more easily able to overcome similar challenges and continue to thrive?

The answer lies in personal resilience.

Resilience is having the emotional strength to cope effectively with adversity, hardship and trauma. People who are resilient have the capacity to recovery quickly from or withstand difficulties that life throws at us, like financial stress, health worries, troubled relationships or relationship breakdowns, loss of a loved one or perhaps security and safety concerns. They utilise their resources, strengths and skills to work through setbacks and overcome challenges.

The good news is that personal resilience is something we can build over time. Think of resilience like a muscle – the more we exercise it, the stronger it becomes.

There are some great strategies we can use to help build our personal resilience. Building your personal cheer squad can be a powerful way to build up your resilience. Think of your friends and family, and make yourself a list:

I also encourage you to think about your lifestyle, and to consider what habits and rituals you can create to boost your resilience and wellbeing.  You can break your habits and rituals down into these sections

Finally, you can also zone in on your thoughts. What key attitudes and beliefs do you want to change? Think about what you want to focus on and what skill this will strengthen. For example,  I will focus on  … to strengthen ….

When it comes to building your resilience, don’t give up! In the words of Nelson Mandela, “do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again”.

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses self-limiting beliefs, and why it's important to challenge them.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

Have you ever heard yourself repeating a story about yourself? The story may have started as a belief that was built over time; or maybe it was built on the back of a throwaway comment that was made carelessly by someone close to you, perhaps during childhood. 

Some of us have practiced these stories for years. They’re so well-rehearsed that sometimes we even forget when they started and who started them.

In year 8, I was told by a well-meaning teacher that I shouldn’t continue taking art as a future elective as it would be detrimental to my grades. When an opportunity to be creative and artistic comes up as an adult, I am therefore quick to ‘own’ my lack of talent, fessing up early and declaring that ‘I haven’t got an artistic bone in my body.’

Recently my daughter bought me a ticket to a basic art class. My immediate reaction was to ask her what she was thinking as I am clearly not an artist. “Mum, it will be fun,” she told me.

Feeling unhinged at the prospect of a room full of people getting to witness first-hand my lack of artistic talent, I felt my brush lingering over the blank canvas, knowing that the final product was doomed even before I got started.

Most of us feel that sense of unease when we step outside our comfort zone to do something that goes against the beliefs that we have created, some of which have been built over a lifetime.

It turns out that I am creative, artistic, and more than capable of painting a picture of plants from scratch (thanks to some very specific instructions from the Pinot & Picasso team!).

These ‘truths’ are built over time, by repeating and imprinting the story into our minds until it becomes real. So real that it creates a new belief, drives our thinking, and influences our decisions. And sometimes, it might even help us to distance ourselves from the emotional memory, the pain, the hurt or embarrassment that is connected to it.

How often do you fact check your beliefs? Some people will cruise through life accepting their beliefs and patterns of thinking without question.

One of the most powerful questions I use in my leadership practice is to ask myself ‘When did I start believing this?’.

Be brave enough to lean into the story that drives the belief and be willing to do the work that it takes to debunk it.

Get clear about whether the belief is helping you. If it isn’t, what might happen if you stopped believing it? What might be possible if you believed something different?

Shifting beliefs is hard, and it takes time to change the pattern of thinking that supports it.

But when we start to open ourselves up to what else is possible, that’s when growth happens, and new opportunities start to emerge.

The IMPACT Community Health Service is committed to meeting the needs of the Discovery Coast community and providing accessible health care for all.   

We provide a wide range of community health services to our region, including community nursing, allied health (podiatry and diabetes education), exercise programs and mental health services as well as podiatry, nursing and child health in outreach clinics across the Discovery Coast.  

We are continuing to work alongside our consultant, Mark Donato, to assess how we can best meet the needs of our growing community. As part of this, we are currently exploring the possibility of offering a pop-up urgent care walk in clinic in Agnes Water during the Easter school holidays. We will keep you informed of our progress toward making this a reality. 

Urgent care clinics provide care to patients who have an urgent medical (injury/illness) requirement that is not a life-threatening emergency, for example sprains, wounds, sutures, minor breaks and insect or animal bites. This model of care delivery relieves pressure on local GPs and offers another treatment option for Discovery Coast residents and visitors that can help them avoid a 3-hour round trip to the nearest emergency department. Any emergency or life threatening situations such as heart attacks/chest pain, collapse/seizure/stroke, severe abdominal pain, car accidents, head and neck injuries need to be managed by calling 000. 

I'm also pleased to share that in the coming weeks we will be hosting our first Health Professionals Network meeting, which will be a wonderful opportunity to discuss the needs of our region and hear from guest speakers. Many local health practitioners work in isolated practice from their peers, and we believe this is an ideal way in which to introduce individual practitioners into a health practice circle. 

If you are a current or retired medical / health professional who is visiting or living in the Discovery Coast region and you would like to attend, please contact ICHS on 4902 2000. Your input will be highly valued and your contribution to understanding the needs of our region is welcomed. 

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week, in honour of International Women's Day, Tanya discusses raising girls to find self esteem and worth beyond their appearance.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

This Wednesday (8 March) marks International Women’s Day, an annual celebration that recognises the contributions, accomplishments and achievements of women and girls, and those who identify as female, across the planet.

It’s a fantastic opportunity to talk about raising our girls, and the role we play in moulding them into confident and capable women who have the skills to look beyond social media and society’s perceptions to truly embrace diversity in all its forms and to accept themselves as they are.

Our young people are stuck in an epidemic of body hate. As women – mothers, teachers, sisters, aunts – we hold great power when it comes to influencing how our girls and younger women see themselves.

Our world is superficial and full of messages about how we ‘should’ look, and this is affecting our children in greater numbers than ever before. Unrealistic and narrow beauty standards and suggestions that how you look is linked to your worth are incredibly harmful to young people’s self-esteem. We must help them to navigate this, and to find self-worth beyond appearance.

In March 2022, Dove released their report on the Dove Self Esteem Project, and the results were shocking. They found that:

While those statistics are scary, it’s not all doom and gloom! The report also highlighted the fact that 7 in 10 girls felt better for unfollowing idealised beauty content, and 80% of girls would like for their parents to talk to them about idealised beauty content.

Taryn Brumfitt was recently named as this year’s Australian of the Year for her work in the body image space. She says there is so much we can do to positively influence the young people in our lives and how they feel about themselves. She wants parents and those with influence over young people to recognise that kids hear and see everything, and in our homes we need to promote a safe space for them to flourish.

Our children look up to us. It is our job to model positive behaviour when it comes to the relationship we have with our bodies.

I strongly encourage you to think about how you talk about your own body in front of your children or other young people you have influence over. Try shifting your focus to the positive things your body can do and how you feel rather than focusing on how it looks, especially when it comes to your perceived flaws. Do you see exercise as a punishment or is moving your body joyfully your focus? Do you view food as an enemy rather than a way to nourish body? Are you openly critical when referring to certain parts of your body?

Body Image Movement and the Dove Self Esteem Project both have some great resources that can help you to discuss body image with young people, and it’s an important conversation to have.

As Taryn says, we need to be teaching our children to have a values system that is built on who they are and what they do, and that has nothing to do with what they look like. Embrace your uniqueness, embrace the individuality that you bring.


IMPACT Community Services is supporting people with disabilities who want to be part of the local workforce through jobs at the city’s Material Recovery Facility (MRF), owned by Bundaberg Regional Council and managed by IMPACT Community Services.  

IMPACT provides around 27 jobs at the facility for employees with disabilities under the Australian Government’s Australian Disability Enterprise. All of the waste from Council’s yellow-top kerbside recycling bins is processed at the MRF, which is located on University Drive in Bundaberg. 

IMPACT’s manager of Australian Disability Enterprises Tim Van Kooten said the MRF provides a supportive work environment that allows workers to reach their full potential in this field of work. 
“The Material Recovery Facility has a happy and motivated workforce, and some of our employees have been with IMPACT for more than 30 years,” he said. 

Mr Van Kooten said each week the Material Recovery Facility processes around 38 council kerbside trucks of recycling – equal to around 114 tonnes of recyclable waste. 

“The content is hand sorted, baled and sold to be made into new products,” Mr Van Kooten said. 

“We also process commercial recycling, which is about 40 tonnes per week.” 

The MRF is also the home of IMPACT’s first Container Refund Point, opened in 2018 as part of the Containers For Change scheme, which encourages Queenslanders to recycle drink containers by offering a 10 cent refund for every eligible container returned. 

A second Container Refund Point, located at Green Solutions on Windermere Road, Qunaba, opened opened last year to keep up with the demand from Bundaberg residents and offer another convenient location for collecting container refunds. 

Since IMPACT Launched their first Container Refund Point at University Drive in 2018, they’ve recycled more than 14,200,000 containers and put around $1.5 million back into the pockets of Bundaberg residents. 

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses JOMO - The Joy of Missing Out

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

Have you heard of FOMO? Since the beginning of time, humans have wanted to feel included. Even though FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out – was borne as a direct result of the explosive rise of social media, for some there is a direct link between missing out and an increase in their anxiety levels.  

When we spend so much time comparing ourselves to others (and let’s face it, thanks to social media, it’s hard not to!), it’s not surprising we can sometimes feel stuck in a constant FOMO cycle. There is, however, something we can do about it.

Enter JOMO – the Joy Of Missing Out – the vastly underrated counterpart to FOMO.

JOMO is all about stepping away from self-comparison, being content with where you are right now, embracing the integration of life and work and proudly living life in the slow lane. It allows you to unshackle yourself from what you ‘should’ be doing in favour of tuning into what you ‘want’ to do.

But here’s the thing about JOMO – you can’t just flip a switch. To turn FOMO on its head and truly embrace JOMO, you need to intentionally and consistently make a series of changes to your daily habits that will reconnect you to your true self.

Here are some things you can do to have more JOMO in your life:

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses honouring your boundaries and threshold of tolerance in volunteer roles.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

Volunteering is a wonderful thing to do, and there are real benefits for both the volunteer and the recipients. Irrespective of how you refer to volunteering, the evidence is clear. Through ‘giving back’, ‘contributing my experience, time and skills’ or ‘helping others’, we get what is referred to as ‘helpers high’, a physical experience where the body releases endorphins as a result of positive social contact with others. Studies also link volunteering to health benefits such as boosting your self-esteem, improving sleep, lowering blood pressure and increasing overall wellness and life satisfaction. It enables your passions and interests to be ignited, while gaining experience, making new friendships and even creating and extending professional networks.

There are however some drawbacks that we need to be aware of. When it comes to fulfilling our altruistic notion of volunteering, it is vital that we maintain strong personal boundaries and are aware of our personal levels of tolerance. Establishing and adhering to the boundaries that we set for ourselves equips us to maintain our wellbeing, while ensuring that we also preserve our relationships with others.

Personal boundaries define what we are comfortable with and what we are not. They are the limits we set for ourselves, and they help us to stay true to our values and beliefs. When we are clear about our personal boundaries, we are better equipped to communicate our needs and expectations to others, and we are more likely to feel respected and valued.

Tolerance, on the other hand, refers to our ability to accept and respect the differences of others, even if they do not align with our own beliefs and values. When we practice tolerance, we are able to work with others, despite our differences, and we can find common ground to achieve our shared goals.

When engaging in community work, it’s important to keep in mind that we all have different values, beliefs, and ways of operating. This diversity can create friction due to a lack of understanding and insight; it can also bring about conflict and disagreements. It does however have the amazing potential to create a rich and vibrant community. To make the most of this diversity, we must be able to balance our own needs and preferences with the needs of others.

What is your threshold of tolerance, and how do you use this to inform the decisions that you make about how you live your life? It’s important to understand this, and to be able to recognise when we are operating outside of these thresholds and why.

Much of my personal time is spent volunteering. Recently, I stepped down from a volunteering role because I felt that I was no longer operating within my personal boundaries and level of tolerance and was unwilling to compromise.

While it was uncomfortable speaking up, it felt freeing to use my voice, and to be honest (to myself and others) about why I was choosing to step back. Remembering it was less about me and more about how my contribution would need to shift if I was no longer operating in unison with my values, beliefs, and boundaries.

There is great value in volunteering, but it’s okay and important to have the courage to say no, that’s not for me, when it no longer feels right.

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses the impact the cost of living crisis is having on mental health.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

If you are feeling like conversations about the cost of living crisis are consuming our news and social media feeds at the moment you are not alone. A simple Google search will provide you with 2.860 billion results in less than one second. Let’s sit with that for a minute.

2.860 billion pieces of information related to cost of living available to you within 0.44 of a second. Wow, is it any wonder that we are feeling overwhelmed and stressed by this?

Every day, the news headlines scream about interest rate increases, skyrocketing energy bills, reduced consumer spending and the rising cost of groceries. Last year, Suicide Prevention Australia’s State of the Nation Report found that the state of the economy was the number one driver of distress across Australia.

The report ranked the cost of living and personal debt as the biggest risk to rising suicide rates over the next 12 months by both the public and suicide prevention sector. This is the first time an economic issue has overtaken social issues such as drugs, loneliness and family breakdown, and it’s cause for real concern.

We know that the financial strain is real – every Australian is feeling the pinch on their purse strings, having to either find extra money or go without. And while each one of us is living with the daily burden of this additional financial strain, very few consider the toll that it’s having on their mental wellbeing.

Please take a moment to pause and consider whether your own mental wellbeing, or that of someone close to you, is being adversely affected.  

Mental wellbeing exists on a continuum, ranging from languishing to flourishing. At first, we might not recognise the symptoms associated with languishing. According to psychologist Adam Grant, some people may have trouble concentrating, perhaps feeling somewhat joyless or aimless. For others, they may experience a sense of stagnation or emptiness. The reality is that currently, 80% of the population can be experiencing languishing at any given point in time. This statistic is unacceptable, so what can we do to change this?

The Queensland Alliance for Mental Health are leading the way in this space, suggesting that a focus on mental wealth can shift the dial. Defined as ‘the collective cognitive and emotional resources of citizens, it includes people’s mental capital, their mental health and wellbeing which underpins the ability to work productively, creatively and build and maintain positive relationships.’ They believe that a mental wealth approach which values the wellbeing of its people will take seriously all levels of human distress, addressing it early with the expectation that it will prevent chronic and costly states of languishing.

There is no silver bullet to addressing the level of languishing being experienced in our community. We do, however, have the best opportunity yet to pull together and consider what we can do to support each other through these difficult times, whether that’s supporting local businesses, sharing what we have with our family, friends and neighbours, or being open to new strategies that will start to capitalise on our nation’s mental wealth.  

If you are struggling with your mental health, you’re not alone. If you or someone you know needs help, please reach out.

Counselling and Mental Health support

Lifeline: 13 11 44 (24 hours a day)
Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636 (24 Hours)

Financial Counselling
National debt helpline: 1800 007 007 or www.ndh.org.au
Mob Strong Debt Helpline: 1800 808 488
A free legal advice service about money batters for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from anywhere in Australia.

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses the goals we set ourselves, and why we give up easily.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

How are your New Year resolutions going? If you’re anything like millions of other people, at the beginning of 2023 you probably set yourself a list of goals for the new year. You might have even decided to totally reinvent yourself.

Research suggests that most people give up on their New Year resolutions between one and six weeks into the new year, with only about 16% of people able to follow through. By now most people will have given up. If you’re still going and are one of those 16% - well done you! Take a moment to celebrate and bask in the glory as you appreciate and recognise all that you have achieved during this time.  

As for the rest of us - why do we give up on our goals?

Because change is hard! Unlearning behaviours that we practice every day requires fortitude, persistence and a commitment to relearning new ways of doing things. It is about finding a reason and purpose for doing things differently.

Perhaps imagine this as a process of reinvention, changing those parts of yourself that no longer serve you. It might involve changing your habits or traits, or even changing your profession and pursuing new skills.

Staying the same is easy, it keeps us within our comfort zone. Creating change however is hard, even when we know that it is good for us. Getting started is the hardest bit, however when we commit to creating change, it is absolutely worth it.

Relearning behaviours that enable us to live in greater alignment with our values can increase our overall life satisfaction and give us a greater sense of purpose, which is associated with a host of mental and physical health benefits.

Remember that big goals can be overwhelming, so try chunking them down into small, actionable targets that help you to see that progress is being made. Write down your goals and track them regularly. Remember that it’s okay – and normal – to experience setbacks. My team work on creating change within 90-day cycles, so be patient, and be kind to yourself if things slide. And remember, you don’t need to wait until the next day to reset, you can do it right now.

Knowing that when you do, you are a step closer to achieving those things that are important to you.

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses how the Discovery Coast Model of Care Project aims to build a sustainable health service for the region.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

As someone who works hard to live by their values, I am often reminded of how important it is to be clear about my values, and to check in on them occasionally to make sure they’re relevant.

It makes my heart sing seeing my values come to life, to be reminded of their relevance and to see meaningful progress – my personal gauge that a commitment to consistency in energy and effort in living my values is starting to pay off.

As the managing director of an organisation that serves the community, ensuring that my personal and professional values align, and that our business values are interwoven with all we do, is essential.

One of my values – opportunity - has delivered in bucketloads this week, and after some reflection, I was reminded that being targeted in the opportunities that I pursue is something that I have had to work on. There are times, when competing interests compromise my ability to focus. Please use this as inspiration to never lose sight of your values as they can be the beacon in the fog whenever things start to feel a little overwhelming!

One of the targeted opportunities that paid dividends this week was kicking off stage 2 of our Discovery Coast Model of Care project, which aims to build a sustainable health service that meets the growing needs of the Discovery Coast region.

The IMPACT Community Health Service is the main provider of primary health services on the Discovery Coast, providing community nursing and allied health services, and also provides for a range of visiting health services. We have recognised the need to further develop health services in the region as an urgent priority.

Currently on the Discovery Coast there is no hospital or health service available and limited GPs, with many who need medical help forced to rely on the local chemist and Queensland Ambulance Service for non-urgent issues or make a 3-hour round trip to Bundaberg or Gladstone for both regular and after hours care.

In collaboration with a consultant, we are researching models that aim to reduce the demand on emergency services, support General Practice and provide Discovery Coast residents with appropriate, affordable, and accessible primary health care locally.

What a fantastic opportunity we have to improve access to essential healthcare on the Discovery Coast! I’m wondering how many other communities have the same issues?

The 2013 floods had a massive and lasting impact on the Bundaberg community. Any long-time resident of the city will no doubt have vivid memories of the natural disaster that shocked the region on Australia Day of that year, and the aftermath residents had to deal with in the following weeks and months.

On the 10th anniversary of the Australia Day flood, IMPACT Community Services staff have recounted their memories of the unforgettable event, sharing the highs and lows, and how the community came together to support one another through tough times for all.

IMPACT Managing Director Tanya O’Shea said: “The 2013 Australia Day flood will be etched in my memory for the rest of my life.”

You can hear the stories of IMPACT staff members who lived through the floods and watch the video here:

Bundaberg man Josh Bridge is proof that a positive attitude can change your life.

The 22-year-old has turned his life around from unemployment and homelessness with the help of the three local organisations, a positive attitude and sheer determination. He says help is available to those who need it, but you must take the initiative and ask for it.

Josh was a boilermaker apprentice but after going through some family issues he and his partner went travelling. When he returned to Bundaberg the couple found themselves homeless and Josh was unable to get work.

With the help of IMPACT and yourtown, Josh and his partner have now secured a home and Josh has a Certificate III in Disability Support from IMPACT and fulltime employment at Without Limits Disability Support.

Josh Bridge has turned his life around with the support of IMPACT Community Services, yourtown, and his new employer, Without Limits Disability Support Services. He says attitude is everything, and you've got to ask for help.

From then to now

When Josh couldn’t find work, Services Australia put him in touch with a job provider who then referred him to yourtown, a transition to work provider.

yourtown’s Business Manager Karla Jurczakowski said: “When Josh met with yourtown, Job Placement Coach Bradley Weymouth took the time to understand where he was at and where he was wanting to go on his journey with us.”

Karla said Bradley was impressed with Josh's tenacity.

“Despite personal challenges, he had a clear direction on wanting to help people. Josh was referred to an IMPACT youth support program, where in addition to getting the support he needed, he was referred on as a possible candidate for a Certificate III in Individual Support – Disability.”

yourtown's Youth Worker Kylie Price assisted with obtaining Josh's Blue Card, Yellow card and a mobile phone, and the organisation also supplied a laptop to help with his continued study.

“When Josh was on placement, we kept in contact to ensure he had everything he needed,” Karla said.

“We were very happy in October when we were able to pay for his license, just in time to start his first paid shift.

"We are very proud of Josh and his resilience and perseverance, and while he has been too busy to keep in contact, knowing he is succeeding is fantastic.”

IMPACT’s Clinical Care Coordinator Jayne Watkins said Josh presented with a positive and open attitude from the first appointment.

"We wish Josh and his family all the very best in his career and want him to know we are always available should he need support again at any time in the future.”

IMPACT Trainer and Assessor Gay Wilson said when she met Josh she was shocked that someone so determined, intelligent and approachable was unemployed and living out of his car.

“Once class commenced it was evident that he was keen to learn and heavily invested in the material he was studying. Thankfully he was able to overcome the negativity and disappointment from his previous life and move forward,” she said.  

“Josh contributed greatly to class discussions and soon became a natural leader and mentor to other students.”

It was during his studies that Josh was introduced to Mike Hayman, Industry Lead at IMPACT. Mike said: “I met Josh as a student in the course. At the time he was homeless and there was a significant need for him to have employment to be successful and have a house. One of my contacts, Marie Blundell, was looking for someone at the time, so Josh went for an interview and blitzed it.”

Gay said she didn’t have to think twice when Without Limits Disability Support were seeking someone to fill a role – Josh was the perfect choice.

“I am very proud of the way Josh has turned his life around. He is now sharing a lovely home with his partner awaiting the arrival of their baby girl and living the life he has earned and deserves.”

Marie Blundell, Director at Without Limits Disability Support Services, said after hearing about Josh's living situation and gaining an understanding of his motivation, determination and work ethic, she couldn't wait to sign him up and hasn't regretted it since.

"To hear that Josh had gone through so much in life, was couch surfing and living in a car with his pregnant partner, and yet presented at classes, well dressed and willing and eager to learn, impressed me,” she said.

“Josh conveyed that he was determined to not go back and was motivated to give the disability industry a go because he realised that he wanted work where he could care for people."

“Already Josh is taking on responsibility for planning our Holiday Program and our Experiential Learning Weekends for young boys and has proved to be a very valuable employee.”

Attitude is everything

Josh was determined to not be a victim of his circumstances.

“I’ve had a lot happen in my life and I wasn’t in the best headspace. It was a really dark time for me. Getting into this course and putting all my determination and effort into get through the course and change my situation has put me in a better headspace”, he said.

“I’ve always had a positive attitude, despite all the tough times. You can only help yourself at the end of the day. No-one else is going to do it for me, so why wait? I’ve got to do it myself.”

Josh has recently completed his studies and now works 6 – 7 days a week. He is grateful for the services, support and encouragement that have been provided to him by IMPACT, Without Limits and yourtown.

“I’ve now got a house, my situation has changed from living in a car to living in a 4-bedroom house. It has been a full backflip, a complete 180. If it wasn’t for the services these guys have provided, I wouldn’t be sitting here today…. But you’ve got to reach out and ask for the help.”

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses learning from the lies we tell.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

Recently someone lied to me. At the time, I had no idea. They looked me straight in the eye, told their lie and went about their day. A few days later, they were unexpectedly caught out and were left with no other option but to own it.

This could have played out a few ways.

Option 1: Take it personally, behave poorly and use language that left no doubt in their mind about how I was feeling.

Option 2: Shut down, freeze them out and decide they were no longer worth my energy and effort as they can’t be trusted.

Option 3: Remain calm and use curiosity and open questions to dig into the reason for the lie and why they felt like they needed to lie in the first place.

Now let’s be honest. Being lied to is frustrating.

Lies can break bonds between people, erode trust and cause problems in relationships. Depending on the lie, we might find ourselves yelling, swearing, storming out, shaming the person, shutting down, spending hours, days or weeks questioning why and how they could have done what they did.

The reality is that people lie. Lies can vary from a small omission of detail to a flat-out furphy.

The reason for the lie might vary from a need to protect themselves from an unpleasant or conflict situation, to spare or protect another’s feelings, to keep a secret, to present a different (perceived better) version of themselves, to be liked and in some cases, to manipulate others.

Irrespective of the reason, it’s important that we recognise the choice to lie is made in that moment. And when we are on the receiving end of someone else’s lie, we recognise that we have a choice about how respond.

I am not proud to say it, however I have used Option 1 and 2 in the past, with a bit of name calling and talking about the person behind their back thrown in for good measure. It helps when others validate how much we have been wronged, doesn’t it?

Fortunately, over time, personal experience (and my children) has taught me that Option 3 can be much more effective. Sure, some lies are bigger than others, people can get hurt by lies, businesses can go out of business, and families can be destroyed.  

Option 3, however, provides me with greater power and choice.

It ensures that I continue to live by my values, maintain my integrity and enables me to detach from the emotion and use logic to gather information to determine what I do next.   I’d encourage you to ensure your response to a lie reflects your values, too.

We all create reasons to lie and validate in our own minds why we’ve done it. It doesn’t always make it right; however, it does provide an opportunity for growth and insight.

Consider these questions:

Next time you find yourself about to tell a lie, pause and think about whether lying is necessary and what is the worst thing that could happen by telling the truth? Is it worse than the consequences of being found out in a lie?

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