NEED HELP? phone 1800 211 470

Steve Hellier

I am writing to thank you the entire team at CCW, for the complete and practical support you have given me.

Let me start at the beginning. I am no Saint! For many years I was a substance abuser. It's not something I'm proud of, but it is what it is. Having said that I have never done anything to hurt anyone else which is why I was so angry at the treatment I received following a work place accident in 2011. More about that later!

Many years ago while working in a steady job I managed to purchase some land just outside of Braidwood. My big dream was to retire there in   a relatively comfortable financial position. There was a derelict house on the property and my plan was to renovate the house to make it livable and chop and sell firewood from the land to keep me going in retirement.

I had been clean from dope for 14 years and have been sober since 1988.

My life took a downward turn with the deaths of two people especially close to me. Dope was my only friend and I return to an old habit. I regret going back to that world but what's done is done and I can't change the past.

The first person to die was my closest and dearest living relative and then my best mate (friends since we were five years old) took his own life and my life became a living hell. I was in a bad place and merely existed emotionally. However, going to work every day at least gave me some purpose.

Then in October 2012, I was involved in a life-changing workplace accident resulting in three fused vertebrae and the inability to return to work to this day.

My employer bent over backwards for me prior to the accident but didn't want to know me afterwards. I was gutted.

I went through the usual channels to claim worker’s compensation and this was when my life spiraled out of control.

It is my belief that the insurance company provided false information resulting in my worker’s compensation payments were stopped.

Furthermore, Centrelink could not start me on any benefits given the information they had received.

So here I was at age 54 with no worker’s compensation payments and no benefits from Centrelink. I believe my situation was dealt with in a nasty, vindictive manner. Here I was badly injured, unable to work, my worker’s compensation payments had been stopped and I was refused Centrelink support.

What was Ito do? I was facing losing my house, I had no money, no prospects, and no hope and by best mate with whom I shared everything was gone. Also as I hadn’t read the signs of the depth of his despair, I was and still suffer from what I am now told is a type of survivor guilt.

I was angry, suicidal and unpredictable. I approached the CFMEU to seek advice.

The CFMEU referred me to you Jason and the CCW team, and there was a faint light at the end of a very dark tunnel. Don't get me wrong everything wasn't automatically made right, but I had a real sense that CCW was there to help me no matter what, not just because it's what they do, but that they genuinely wanted to help me.

With CCW's support and guidance I spent three and half years seeing mental health professional. This helped to a degree however it was very clinical and I was particularly conflicted when one such professional suggested I start smoking dope again - legally as a way to cope. Luckily the same person also told me to turn to my dog and take her for a walk when I was at my lowest point, this has been a great help.

It was a really low day when I had no choice but to sell my house in Canberra and move into the derelict house at Braidwood with no running water. My life was a mess.

Jason without sounding too mushy (mushy I am not) your style of counselling and practical help has been more valuable to me than any of the professionals in the mental health crisis team - in fact I don't think they helped me at all, they seemed to disagree with each other more than anything and just made me more confused.

As far as I know you haven't spent years at university studying mental health, yet you and your team seem to feel my pain. The so-called professionals expected me to fit a category in a text book - I didn't, so they were unable to help.

You gave me meals at The Tradies Club when I was starving. I don't care whether they cost ten or twenty dollars, when you're starving and you're given a wholesome meal it's worth a million bucks.

I'm pleased to say that I have been free of drugs again for the past two years! I'm not saying that it's easy, because it's not. I am a little more positive now and I know that you guys are always there. You don't crowd me or try to over counsel me, but you do let me know that you 're always there. I know you 're busy but you 're never too busy to talk to me, and that means a lot.

What CCW says it will do, it does - without judgement or blame and that’s really rare these days.

I think, very importantly, your direct, no-nonsense and very honest approach works. You 're not afraid to discuss the tough stuff but you always warn me before doing so. Nobody can help support secrets.

Do I still feel suicidal? Sometimes yes I do. However, CCW has helped me to wake up more prepared to face each day, and while I a m still very angry at the way I was treated and the financial position I've been left in, I no longer feel completely alone. Thank you to everyone at CCW.


Steve Hellier