Illawarra Publications and Media

Dragon Boating

Picture of the Respite Services dragon boating team racing on Sydney Harbour

On the 25th October 2009 the Schizophrenia Fellowship’s Respite Service participated in the Dragons Abreast Darling Harbour Regatta. We were recruited, trained and supported by Dragons Abreast Illawarra who took us under their wing in order to prepare us for the big day – a big thankyou to the ladies for their generosity! Dragon Boating is a fantastic therapeutic tool for women who have survived breast cancer, providing a supportive and caring environment as well as the opportunity to get fit and have fun. It is also a very fast-growing sport.  On the day 71 teams participated in the regatta and raised nearly $200,000 for post surgery therapy for breast cancer survivors.
The Schizophrenia Fellowship was represented by Respite staff, local Carers of people with a mental illness as well as our family and friends. Our team included paddlers from the southern Illawarra through to Sutherland and included staff from the Fellowship, Carers NSW, and South Eastern Sydney and Illawarra Health Service.  The carers who paddled with us each had their own reason for being involved, and they all enjoyed the experience, the opportunity for strong physical activity, the time mingling with other people, and the atmosphere at Darling Harbour on such an exciting and active day. 

Being completely organised we only managed to get our whole team together in the boat for the first time on the morning of the regatta. Most of our team scraped in only one Dragon Boat Practice beforehand and so the day was full of laughs and nervous smiles! Led by our strokes Lynne and Ash we had a great day behind the paddles, witnessed some impressive racing and enjoyed the great atmosphere. Being our first year in this competition we didn’t do too badly, with times of 83 seconds and 87 seconds in our first two heats, we kept up with the rest. We were able to keep paddling in spite of the weather, but once there was lightening, the event had to be cancelled for safety reasons, and we missed out on our third heat.  We are enthusiastic to get back out there next year. 
Many crews were paddling to bring attention to their cause.  Our crew was visible for the Fellowship, and it was rewarding to have some people come up to us to enquire about the service provided by the Fellowship.  There was a great camaraderie between all crews.
A big thankyou again for the ladies from DA Illawarra and the Illawarra trainers who made it possible for us to race on the day!

Written by Jade Pados

"Boys are Back in Town go to Wagga Wagga - A trip of fun, friendship, and overcoming adversity”

Over the last few months Mike from Respite Services worked tirelessly to organize a fly fishing trip to Wagga Wagga for the men’s group of the Schizophrenia Fellowship affectionately known as “The Boys Are Back in Town” this is the story of our adventure.

The trip to Wagga Wagga started on the morning of Monday the 16th of November 2009, with Mike picking up our transport for the trip (a small Tarago van), from there he set out and made five stops to pick each of us up from home.

After the last pickup, about 11:30, we headed west towards the escarpment and on up through Macquarie Pass, hoping to shorten the distance to the Hume Highway. Everything was going hunky dory and the boys were settling in and chatting with each other when our poor little Tarago decided to let out a big bang!!!! At first we thought we had blown a tire, but as soon as we got out of the van it was obvious that we had blown the radiator and would not be going any further with her to Wagga. Mike made several phone calls to organise a replacement bus and a tow for the van. All the guys pulled together and we managed to get the van turned around and pointed back down the mountain and off the road side. (So much for trying to shorten the distance!!).

After getting everyone down the mountain to safety we settled in to wait at Albion Park whilst Mike went off to get our new bus and retrieve all our bags from the broken down one, It was quite some wait yet we were able to spend the time chatting and getting to know each other, so it was not so bad.

 View From The BusBy 4:30 we finally hit the road again and we were all hoping that this bus was going to get us there. To our relief the bus was a fair bit bigger and it never missed a beat for the rest of the trip! We made several stops on the way to Wagga, one for dinner in Goulburn at a Chinese restaurant for dinner which was excellent, this was provided by the Fellowship and all the boys were happy to have some food in their bellies.

We finally reached Wagga at 11:30 at night and everyone was glad to be off the bus and at our destination. We were spending our stay in Wagga at the “Beachside Caravan Park”, we had two cabins and they were awesome, very roomy and with all amenities, they even had air-conditioning which was a blessing because the heat was incredible.

The next morning we were met by Ray of the Wagga branch of the Schizophrenia Fellowship. Ray was going to be our guide on the trip to Tumut where we were all going to be fishing for trout. Ray gave us all hints and tips all day and was constantly re-rigging lines and baiting hooks for those that did not know how, what a guy.

Ray can also be seen showing everybody just what skill it takes to use a proper fly rod, he made it look so easy and graceful. After this we cooked lunch at the BBQ’s and did battle with the flies of Wagga, what a job that was, there were so many that it took 4 people around each hot plate waving arms and plates constantly to keep them from landing on the food.

Ray FishingRay made it look easy. It wasn’t so easy when we all tried.  Never mind, we all enjoyed the fish Ray caught.

After packing up all the fishing gear we took off back to Wagga and Mike decided to take us to the local pool for a swim, everybody was cheering because it was so hot, we spent about 90 minutes just floating about and soaking it up. It was a perfect way to finish off the day!

Our next stop was to be at the Sunflower House, which is a place set up for those that have mental illness, as a respite from the outside world. What a Place!!!!    Big Bright and Airy, with lots of artwork done by clients, a full coffee room, Movie Room, Full commercial style kitchen, Gardens and BBQ area. Everybody was extremely impressed! And asking when will Wollongong get something like this.

Dinner was cooked by all the guys and everyone pitched in and gave a hand to get it ready, the team was pulling together and working well. Some of them even learnt something new about cooking! It was finally time to head back to the cabins and fall into bed, it had been a big day and we had done so many things and there was still another day to come.

Our second day in Wagga we were greeted with another scorcher, so we went to the local Art gallery and the Wagga Glass Gallery, which were both very interesting, especially the Glass displays.From there we went and got some fish and chips for lunch and went and sat at the Wagga Botanic Gardens, There was a bit snoozing going on and it was so nice being out under the trees amongst nature. We then went to a local museum to have look but did not spend a great deal of time there as all the boys could think of was getting back to the pool.

This time we spent a couple of hours at the pool swimming around and chatting and having a great old time. One of the boys even jumped off the high dive board a few times.

We spent more time under the water than on top.At The Pool

We then went and picked up some supplies for dinner that night and the boys got some munchies for later too. We decided to head back to the cabins and just relax for a while till 6pm when we were supposed to meet up with Ray once again at the Sunflower House. We all pitched in once again to help with cooking dinner and the guys were all working so well with each other that dinner was cooked in no time. We all then settled in to watch a movie on the big screen.

We made our way back to the cabins and everyone cleaned up and packed their gear ready to leave first thing in the morning, most heads hit the pillow pretty quick as we had been on the go all day again. We all were woken up early and packed the bus and got under way by 8:30 and headed home. We stopped once in Goulburn and had lunch; our next stop was Wollongong, where we all said our goodbyes to each other.

All in all the trip was excellent we all got to know each other a little better and were able to share our problems and our experiences. Everybody helped each other out in some way or another, whether it be with money, or advice, support or friendship.

We all made new friends and experienced another part of this beautiful country. A special mention goes to Mike for all the time and effort he put in to make this trip happen, we got there no matter what and the amount of driving and organising was monumental to say the least!!!

Thank you Mike

We would also like to thank the Schizophrenic Fellowship for funding this trip, it gave us all many things to remember and is greatly appreciated.

“The Boys are Back in Town”
Written by:  Michael Smith, one of “The Boys”

                                                         The Murrumbidgee River

                                The Murrumbidgee River, which we loved.  Some of us even went for a swim.


ATSI Retreat Sanctuary Respite Centre

The Respite Service organised a Retreat at North Head for ATSI families between 10th and 12th November this year.  There were two main objectives:  to enable the participants to have a great time and a good rest, and also to enable the Respite Service to find out directly from ATSI families about the type of respite they would like to receive, and what would be beneficial to them.

To achieve the second goal of finding out about the service ATSI families would like to receive, Michael McNeill from Illawarra Respite organised a workshop with the participants to give the families the opportunity of telling what difficulties and barriers obstructed them receiving a respite service.

The group met with a positive outlook and were provided opportunity to foster community ties.

To make sure they all had a good time there was time for fishing, eating together and having good yarns.  Everybody was taken around Manly viewing Aboriginal sites.  A strong sense of community belonging was felt by all participants.

Some of the information provided to participants included ways of alleviating stress when dealing with services. They were also provided information about various services which they may be able to access.

The participants also had an opportunity to talk about the difficulties they were facing dealing with their mental illness and the difficulties of looking after someone who suffers with a mental illness.

The Retreat was a positive experience for everyone, participants and staff alike, and produced good results.  The carers and care recipients all enjoyed the retreat and in their words asked “when is the next one – it was too short”.

Written by Lynne Hutton

Breakfast Club

Illawarra Respite Services facilitates a Breakfast Club in both Ulladulla and Huskisson.  This innovative group is provided for both carer’s and care Rrecipients and provides a healthy breakfast with emphasis on promoting a healthy lifestyle.  This service offers a period of time for centre based respite, allowing carers’ time out from their caring role, and also a perfect opportunity to give carers some pampering and an opportunity to meet people and be supported in their caring role by staff members and other carers.

Our program offers a of variety of interesting themes including Laughter Yoga, mindfulllness, Tai Chi, Carer pampering mornings, information sessions, workshops held by Carers NSW and the Community Health Centre, day trips and bush or beach walks.

Whilst sitting next to a carer this morning she was telling me how much she enjoyed coming to Breakfast Club and stated “she felt like she was on holidays”. This is a perfect outcome, and exactly what the program is set up to achieve.

I have attached a photo from our most recent Breakfast Club @ Husky, where after breakfast, we practiced the “Art of Walking” – a simple stroll on the beach picking up shells and chatting to each other.  The weather was perfect and the scenery at Huskisson was well received.


 Illawarra Respite Services Ad (Mercury 2008)


Mercury Advertisment for Illawaraa Respite Services

Schizophrenia Awareness Week Flyer