Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Clubhouse Helps Members Live beyond Mental Illness

Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Clubhouse Helps Members Live beyond Mental Illness

Article excerpt

I FIRST wrote about the Toowoomba Clubhouse in August, 2013, when I asked the rhetorical question, "So what is the Clubhouse?"

I took my answer from the Clubhouse's own website, www.toowoomba

It was "established in 1996 to help address a shortage of mental health services for people in the Toowoomba Community".

It provides a "non-institutional, restorative environment within which people support each other in the process of rebuilding self-confidence, work practices and social skills to help them develop the confidence necessary to live satisfying and productive lives."

Its vision is to promote opportunities for members "to live a life with and beyond mental illness".

It provides members with a non-clinical environment where they are encouraged to take a leading role in their own personal recovery.

It's about two months since I became president of the Clubhouse.

I now know a lot more about it than I did back in 2013. Perhaps I could share a few facts; they hint at why I really care about the place.

About 90% of Clubhouse members receive a personal Disability Support Pension from the Federal Government.

That's $776.72 per fortnight, as of now. It could change on the whim of the Government at any time. If you say it quickly it sounds like a lot of money.

It can be supplemented with earned income, but some of that is deductible against the pension.

About 20% of members with a pension live in what is somewhat ambiguously referred to as "Social Housing", the less cosily-named "Housing Commission" homes.

Unfortunately, there is a waiting list of more than 20,000 in Queensland alone with demand far outstripping supply.

Those who get the nod pay rent to the government equal to 25% of their income.

That's about $100 per week and is considerably less than they would be paying in other circumstances.

Those "other circumstances" notably include the category of accommodation called "Congregate(d) Housing" where you get a bedroom to yourself but share living spaces, bathroom, toilet etc. …

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