Head of Mates4Mates, Bernadette Praske, shares her insights on some of the changes to our service offerings and the positive impact they have made.
I recently met a lovely young lady at our South East Queensland Family Recovery Centre whose story gave me pause to reflect. She told me about the recovery plan she was working through to achieve her goals and how it was empowering her to look forward in her life. She also shared how glad she was that she had found her way to Mates4Mates.
This was a truly heart-warming discussion.
All the work we do as an organisation involves each and every staff member working together to make a difference for veterans and their families impacted by service. We all really bring our hearts to the work we do and enjoy supporting the progress our clients make as they strive toward improving their quality of life and wellbeing.
We continue to deliver our four service streams; psychological services, physical rehabilitation and wellbeing, skills for recovery and social connection, as it is really important we ensure our Mates always have access to these core services. Almost 12 months ago though, we introduced a new approach to providing support at Mates4Mates, one that is recovery-oriented.
This recovery-oriented approach involved a few changes, including the introduction of counsellors to our teams and the ability to support Mates to develop individual recovery plans focused on achieving their individual goals. Recovery plans are a great way to ensure you’re accessing the right Mates4Mates services for your individual support needs. We also started to develop our online services to ensure we can provide support to those who aren’t able to access our centres.
Whether that’s due to COVID-19 lockdowns, or the fact many veterans and their families live in regional, rural or remote locations, distance should never discount their needs. As a result, we now have a great range of online services delivered by our friendly team that are developed to provide a range of support. We’ve noticed a few things in the time since introducing the recovery-oriented approach.
More people are coming into our centres, more veterans and their families are becoming Mates and choosing to develop a recovery plan and, as a result, we are continuing to get busier and busier.
It’s wonderful to see that the changes we have made to better support veterans and their families when they most need it has meant we are now providing services to more Mates than ever before.
If we look at some of the data around our ‘Active Mates’ (those currently accessing our services) we can compare 2019 where we had 298 active Mates to 2020 where we had 1172 active Mates. That’s a big increase, but we have continued to grow our services and support to even more veterans and their families. In the 12-month period from 1 June 2020 to 31 May 2021, we had 2,045 active Mates. While this means the team are busier than ever, we are also happier than ever.
You see, the more support we are able to provide veterans and their families to improve their quality of life and wellbeing, the more motivated our team becomes. We have also welcomed more than 10 new team members in that period to ensure we continue to provide quality, individualised support services to everyone who accesses Mates4Mates.
Which brings me back to the lovely lady in our South East Queensland Family Recovery Centre. I knew when I was speaking with her that her story was a tangible example that the changes we have made, and the wonderful work our team does every day, really was making a difference to the lives of veterans and their families.
I feel incredibly proud of the veterans and families who reach out for support to improve their wellbeing, and equally as proud of our team who walk side by side with them throughout their recovery journey.
Written by Bernadette Praske, Head of Mates4Mates