Hi, my name is Terry McGrath and I am currently the Team Leader at Namatjira Haven. I have worked here now for 8 years.
In approximately 1986 (my memory is not perfect) I was a Resident of Namatjira Haven and I spent 3 months here. Namatjira Haven was the first Rehab I went to.
I am a local, born and bred in Lismore and my then AA Sponsor lived up the road from Namatjira Haven and he recommended I come here as I was struggling to achieve any sobriety at that time. I am an alcoholic. I had first been introduced to AA at the age of 23 and achieved years of sobriety only to relapse in the 80’s. It was after that relapse that my drinking reached all time lows and my ability to function was seriously compromised. I had been working in a local hospital as a Registered Nurse but could no longer work and I had become a metho drinking zombie in a very short time.
I am a white fella and while I had come across Koorie people in my nursing work I had never had close contact with Aboriginal people. During my stay at Namatjira Haven I became very close friends with 2 men from Cherbourg and we had such fun, amidst the seriousness of early recovery, that I still remember those men. There were others too I got to know really well and I have absolutely no memory of any racism because I was white. I was accepted, loved and treated with decency by both Staff and other Resident’s. During my time at Namatjira Haven myself and the other residents with the help of the Staff organised and held a weekend long AA Rally which attracted a hundred people from all over. We had meetings, a dance, plenty of food and people stayed all weekend. It was a great success.
It took me some time after Namatjira Haven for me to finally get on the right track. Namatjira Haven though gave me the motivation to continue the long and hard journey out of dependency. Some years ago, by pure chance (I had only just completed an AOD course I did while nursing my terminally ill mother), a job came up at Namatjira Haven. I applied, got the job and commenced work as a Case Worker/Counsellor.
Now I am content that the circle has come full cycle and that I can give back some of what was given to me. I love working here, and while the work is sometimes hard there is always the joy of seeing men get healthy again, after being battered by life, sheltered in the Haven from the storm that is alcohol and drug misuse, able to repair the damage, gain the enthusiasm to change and begin that journey into the light. I feel very privileged to be accepted here by Koorie people and I am learning so much I never knew which has given me a deepening respect for the people and the culture.
Namatjira Haven is a place where peace lives and where your spirit can be found again.
Alex came to us in 1992 to find his way back on track, Alex stayed with us for thirteen months and in that time found the right track he was looking for . He has only recently came back to vist us and share his story and show that he really appriecoated the time he invested in himself for being here and now and still leads a healthy nad rewarding life style with his family.
For four years Alex has been working as an Indigenous Mental Health worker in Mackay and for the last 10 months has been working in disabilities in Bundaberg and in the new year 2010 will be starting work at Woodridge in Brisband as an Indigenous mental health worker at Youth Family Services.
Alex has been sober for over 10 years now and has never looked back and continues to help his mob as a health worker.