I am fortunate to regularly visit Warkworth, a town north of Auckland, New Zealand, where my sister and her family live. For many years, the town and people of Warkworth have continued to inspire me with their sense of community and support for one another. I watch in awe as parents, friends and community members come together in the school grounds, rugby fields, parks, restaurants, markets and boardwalks—saying hello, enquiring about each other’s wellbeing, offering help, having conversations of acceptance and, together, activating change.

It’s clear that I always leave feeling grounded, and more recently connecting with knowing that this is what community looks like for me. I regularly ask myself why I am so drawn to Warkworth. Obviously it’s about being with family, but Warkworth connects me to my study, work and passion for community development. I am aware of how communities can come together to create greater understanding, awareness, change and acceptance. I know that communities can be powerful in creating a greater sense of self and belonging.

Wellways Australia has a vision for society’s future, in which people experiencing mental health issues and psychosocial disability, as well as their families, friends and carers, are understood, accepted and have the same life opportunities as other citizens. Our advocacy vision is of inclusive communities that celebrate diversity and highlight the strength that diversity brings, challenging traditional prejudices and the exclusions they foster, while replacing marginalisation with expressions of welcome.

In 2017, I will embark on the most exciting and inspired chapter of my career. Alongside my colleague Cassy Nunan, Consultant for Consumer Advocacy and Leadership, we will be travelling through Tasmania, Victoria, ACT and NSW, bringing communities together to talk about the big issues and how they can create the change they want to see. Consumers, families, community organisations and people who are interested in learning about advocacy, and creating community-based plans, are encouraged to attend. 

Our community advocacy workshops are about naming what affects you the most, hearing and learning from others about the change they would like to see. and gaining a greater understanding of advocacy techniques.

We want people to leave feeling empowered and ready to activate change.

So join with us, make your voice count and contribute to creating the community that you want to live in. Learn more about becoming an advocacy member and to find out when we will be in your area, please check out the What's on section of our website or email advocacy@wellways.org

Rachael Lovelock
Consultant for Carer Advocacy and Leadership