When he was younger, Ron loved sports and was into martial arts and footy. “I had a really good childhood,” he remembers. However, Ron experienced a heartbreaking loss when his older brother Mark died suddenly and unexpectedly, when Ron was 16. “It really affected me,” remembers Ron. “I wasn’t the same person afterwards.” “I had to look after Mum and take on responsibilities. I grew up quickly.” However, loss was to continue with Ron’s parents passing away and the tragic death of his other brother, also Ronald, when Ron was 22-years old.
Ron was referred to Flourish Australia in 2010. At the time, he was homeless; couch surfing between family members and heavily dependent on alcohol. At Flourish Australia, Ron was given support connecting with men’s groups in the community such as The Men’s Shed in Mount Druitt. “I have a good time on the Flourish Australia outings,” says Ron. “I like going to The Shed where everyone can have a feed and a yarn together.” “I had some work packing for a while. One of my goals is to get another job and get my drivers license. I’d also like to play sport again.” “Flourish Australia have been helping me since 2010,” says Ron. “I couldn’t have done it by myself. But now it’s up to me to help myself.”
In February 2016, Ron moved into his own home. “I felt good getting my own place. I got help getting furniture, a fridge and TV which I really appreciated,” says Ron. “If I hadn’t had Flourish Australia’s support, I’d have been living on the streets. I’d like to say thanks to everybody for helping me.” “When I think about my life, I feel happy and sad,” says Ron. “I feel sad because I lost my family – it made me drink a lot. But now I’m trying not to drink much and my life is going good,” says Ron. “I just want to live a happy life”.
Ron has demonstrated incredible willpower dealing with his mental health issues and getting to where he is now. “My Mum always said, “be strong” and I’ve been strong all of these years.” Today Ron has his own two-bedroom home; he regularly attends social events with Flourish Australia and other community organisations and is continuing along his recovery journey with real, attainable goals to work towards. He has regular meetings with the Aboriginal HASI team and heads to Flourish Australia’s offices for chats and outings. “I’m blown away by the challenges Ron’s faced in his younger life,” says peer worker, Jamali Hanman. “I’m proud of how he’s handled situations,” adds Jamali. “And I’m really happy for him that he now has his own life.”
“I’ve learnt so much from him.” Senior Mental Health Worker Elaine Zander adds, “I’ve walked alongside Ron’s journey and the ups and downs he’s faced head on. I’ve seen Ron develop as an individual and he continues to progress strength by strength.” “Ron is an inspiration to so many people at Flourish Australia.” “I’ve learnt a lot over these years, I’ve learnt how to be strong,” says Ron. “I’m proud of where I am today. I’ve come a long way.”