Introducing Bernie

LELAN, Community Nurturer

LELAN recently welcomed Bernie Barrett to the team as our Administrative Support and Community Nurturer. We are very happy to have Bernie join us and can’t wait to strengthen our connection to members and the lived experience community in SA.

Below Bernie answers some questions to introduce herself.

 

 

Who Bernie is:

 

I would say I’m a bit of a dork, but with a heart of gold. 

I have a ten year background working in community services, education and health – starting out as a youth worker and support worker at an international RTO. From there I began working within consumer engagement and advocacy.

  

I’ve always thought of myself as an advocate – either for myself and my loved ones or for communities I’m involved in and care about. I’m deeply passionate about human rights and social justice particularly around mental health, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights and LGBTQI+ rights and safety..

 

Outside of work, I volunteer quite extensively with Rotary’s youth programs including Rotaract, I’m currently the President of the Adelaide City Rotaract Club. I have an 8 year old Cocker spaniel (Mozart) who should hopefully be popping into the office every now and again and a 10 year old Blue Tongue lizard (Rigby – who probably won’t make it into work…).

I love reading and learning, cooking, hiking and trying not to kill my dozens of plants. 

 

 

How Bernie felt starting with LELAN:

 

I’m really excited – it’s a role that suits my strengths and let’s me focus on the part of working I like the most, community empowerment and support. I think coming into this role as the organisation builds is a fantastic opportunity to make sure that no matter where we go or what we do, the community helps drive that and that we support and care for the community along the way.

 

 

What Bernie appreciates about LELAN and how we do things:

 

I’m excited by the innovation of LELAN, the authenticity and the love and care that goes into what is done here..

 

I’m looking forward to contributing to that work and I’m hopeful that the work we’re doing changes lives for the better.

 

 

Bernie’s thoughts on lived experience leadership and advocacy:

 

It’s that classic saying ‘Nothing about us without us’, for far too long decision makers have used paternalistic systems and approaches to mental health and haven’t considered the human at the end of their pen mark. 

 

The more that people with lived experience get on the other side of the decision, as an influencer and advocate, the better the outcomes will be for the people using services and experiencing the systems that are meant to support us.

 

A story about Bernie’s passion for her work and being in this space:

 

My personal experience with mental health has been (and remains) an important part of my drive and purpose in life. I grew up knowing my mum was unwell, but never quite knowing in what way – with too many secrets and not enough answers.

When I was 13 I was diagnosed with manic depression, it took a few years to realise it was the wrong diagnosis but in that time I dealt with a lot of issues and stigma from my family and others around me. I have a fun ‘mixture of maladies’, anxiety being the most prevalent in my day to day life, and I’ve been a loud and proud advocate for openness and reducing the stigma around mental health.

 

I want to make sure that the kids in my family grow up knowing it’s normal and okay to experience changes in your mental health the same way that it’s okay to get a cold, a broken arm or cancer. That questions can be asked and answered and that there’s no shame in being different.

 

 

Connecting with Bernie:

 

Bernie will be working with LELAN Wednesday-Friday. She can be contacted via bernie@lelan.org.au .