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Support and guidance helps single mum shine

Wed 11, Mar 2015

On Wednesday 25 February, Rebecca Matheson was surprised to learn that she had won The Gordon’s Lifelong Learning Award, which is presented to a student who has demonstrated a willingness to include learning as part of their lifelong goals. 

However Rebecca says that it was finally finding the right support that helped her to get on track and achieve her dreams.

“Winning this award just tells me that all the hard work and dedication over the past five years has been worth it. I’ve achieved something. It means everything!”

The journey to this point for Rebecca has been particularly tough.  She has been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and during her life has also battled with severe anxiety and other mental health related issues.  As a single mother of three children, including a new baby, Rebecca was finding it very challenging to cope with everyday stresses and in addition, was experiencing financial strain due to long-term unemployment.  Whilst she had no family support, she was eager to become a good role model for her expanding family.  She knew that she needed to study, but didn’t know what she wanted to do.

The step that helped transform Rebecca’s life was registering with Ostara Australia/New Horizons, an organisation in Geelong that assists people living with mental health issues to overcome personal barriers whilst helping them to find employment.  

Barbara Ryan, an Employment Consultant with Ostara Australia/New Horizons, helped Rebecca to access training with partner Northern Futures and enrol in an Aged Care course at The Gordon.  Blessed with a supportive teacher at The Gordon, who was aware of the additional challenges in her life, Rebecca thoroughly loved the course and proudly completed her certificate in September last year. 

As part of the course, students undertook a six week placement with Uniting AgeWell at Kalkee Nangatta.  Rebecca shone as a tenacious, hard working student who embraced every part of the job and was offered casual employment as a personal care worker at the end of the student placement.

Rebecca’s Manager, Leonie Bray, says Kalkee Nangatta is extremely proud of Rebecca for winning the Lifelong Learning Award, stating “Rebecca is an inspiration to all the other students who come through”.

Standing in front of a crowd of 300 people at the Award ceremony, Rebecca thanked everyone who had supported her during her journey.

Ostara Australia/New Horizons Employment Consultant, Barbara Ryan, says that she was fighting back tears when she watched Rebecca stand on stage to receive her award last week.  Whilst Barbara supported Rebecca throughout her journey, she says “all of Rebecca’s success has come from her own willingness and drive to achieve her goals.  I’m so proud; she really deserves this recognition given what she’s had to overcome to get to this point.”

Rebecca says whilst she still has good and bad days related to her mental health issues, being employed has had a huge impact on her overall wellbeing.  “My first wage helped me get my car fixed and now I’ve been able to connect the internet. It was a huge deal not to have to rely on someone else to pay my bills for me. Having work feels like I’m really contributing to something now.”

When asked what people in her situation should do to get help, Rebecca says, “Contact Ostara Australia/New Horizons for help.  Since going through this process, I’ve gained a sense of pride about myself, a sense of worth, something which I lacked in myself prior.  I have learnt that with a lot of hard work, commitment and the right support around you, challenges can be overcome”.

IF YOU ARE A JOB SEEKER LIVING WITH A MENTAL HEALTH CONDITION, OR AN EMPLOYER WHO WOULD LIKE TO GIVE SOMEBODY IN NEED A CHANCE, PLEASE CONTACT OSTARA AUSTRALIA/NEW HORIZONS: 5221 1185 or 1300 JOB SEEK.

 


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