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To Mark Heeney


My name is Joseph Zizys and I am writing to apply for the position of Peer Practitioner at NEAMHS.
For the past 18 months I have been working as a Community Mental Health Practitioner at the Frankston
Youth Prevention and Recovery Centre, a short term, ten bed residential facility for young people aged 16 25 experiencing mental ill-health. In that role I have led groups in mindfulness meditation, facilitated
communal meal programs and been deeply involved in working with young people in group situations to
facilitate positive outcomes and achieve goals. My role at YPARC also involves one on one work based
around firstly the recovery model and secondarily DBT based strategies. One on one work is strength and
recovery based, encompassing counselling, collaboration and facilitation of the young persons own priorities
and plans.

I also have a lived experience of mental illness, suffering a first episode psychosis in my late teens. My
breakdown was precipitated by marijuana use coupled with a family history. I made a full recovery and
deeply believe that with support and encouragement many people can make lasting gains in their mental
health, even those with psychotic symptoms. In addition to my own experience my father and two of my
brothers have grappled with schizophrenia for most of their lives, and so my lived experience is also as a


Addressing the key selection criteria:

Essential: Describe a difficult situation you have encountered while working with a person with multiple
support needs. Explain the action you took to manage the situation and the outcome achieved.

I have supported many clients at the YPARC suffering from multiple and complex needs. One particular
client that sticks in my memory is a 16 year old female ward of the state who came into our service
homeless, aggressive, self harming and un-cooperative. I was able to work with this young woman to
facilitate a family meeting with a potential foster family, and initiate a referral process to more stable long
term supported accommodation. All this was done while providing support with the clients emerging
borderline personality traits. In the year since the client has moved into stable housing, stopped cutting, and
has returned to the service for respite and been much more stable and engaged. Outcomes like those are
why I continue to work in community mental health.

Essential: Discuss how your personal values align to Minds values. Discuss how this is demonstrated within
your previous roles.

I am a recovery focused community mental health worker. I have worked at Mind for the last 18 months and
align strongly with Minds focus on the client, on evidence based support, on privacy, family and integrity. As
part of my job here at YPARC I also interact daily with the clinical staff of Penninsula Health and I value and
celebrate working as part of a diverse team.

Essential: Discuss how your personal values align to Minds Model of Recovery Orientated Practice. Discuss
how this is demonstrated within your previous roles.

I completely believe in the recovery model. I think that as support workers our principal role is to facilitate the
clients vision of recovery, starting from where they are, not from where we as workers imagine they should
be. Collaborating with the client, their family, and there existing network of support services while at the
same time respecting the autonomy and privacy of the client is a practice we are totally committed to at the

Essential: Describe a difficult situation you have encountered while working with families and carers of
people with mental health issues. Explain the action you took to manage the situation and the outcome

I have facilitated family meetings here at the YPARC including one in particular involving a 16 year old male
with aggression issues who had recently punched a hole in our wall and was going to be meeting with his
father who was a major trigger. I worked with the client to prepare for the feelings of anger and frustration
that he was likely to feel in the meeting and facilitated the meeting in such a way as to respect the clients
boundaries while still trying to help arrive at genuine outcomes for the family. The meeting went well until we
where wrapping up when the client suddenly stormed out of the room and slammed the door. I was able to
debrief with the family separately and with the client and the gains of the meeting where consolidated.

Essential: Describe a situation you have encountered during which you needed to adapt your approach due
to changing circumstances and/or information. Explain how you determined what action to take when the
circumstances and/or information changed.

I have changed my approach with BPD clients a great deal over the last 18 months. My first instinct as a
worker is to establish rapport and mutual regard with the client and try to trust the client as much as possible.
I have learned that while these are honourable ideals, that it is important to have very well maintained
boundaries and limits with BPD clients, otherwise the emotional intensity of their stories and sudden changes
of direction can destabilise the support relationship.

Essential: Describe an outcome to a problem that you have achieved through collaboration, facilitation or
problem solving. Outline the three factors that you believe were most important to achieving this outcome.

A the YPARC we work hand in glove with psychiatric nurses who provide the clinical support to our clients.
Our focuses are different but I have cultivated strong and productive working relationships with the clinical
members of our team and greatly benefited from those relationships. I thin that the three essentials are
mutual respect, good communication, and a no drama professionalism that can quickly and effectively move
on from bumps in the road with no hurt feelings and hopefully the relevant lessons learned.


Essential: Outline how you believe technology can assist with service reporting and measurement.

I am familiar with Mindlink and confident with computer systems, case-noting and records. I think that
technology is hugely important to providing timely and well informed support to clients.

I am excited by this opportunity to work in the northern suburbs where I live and to make more formal and
structured use of my lived experience in my mental health support practice.

Please consider me for an interview so that we might explore my suitability for the role and the roles
suitability for me!


Yours sincerely,
Joseph Zizys