After a relocation from Brisbane, and a long time honing his singer/songwriter skills through the open mic scene of Melbourne, we spoke to Greg Steps about inspiration, influence and lemon trees in the lead up to the launch of his upcoming EP, ‘The Overland’, accompanied by his band – The Not for Prophets – which is taking place on Friday, February 24th at the esteemed Wesley Anne band room.
Before making the big move from Brisbane to Melbourne, Greg Steps had featured in a number of somewhat noisier, heavier band-type situations without ever really trying to go at it alone. Until the day that he did, and realised that Brisbane was no place for a solo singer/songwriter to develop.
“Brisbane doesn’t have – or at least to my knowledge – doesn’t have much of a folk scene,” reminisces Steps beneath the lemon tree at his Coburg residence, “Whereas down in Melbourne, with open mics and stuff like that, and plenty of like-minded individuals… so it just seemed like a good idea at the time”
Having been in Melbourne for what’s coming up to four years now, you would be quite likely to walk into any of the abundance of open mic nights at any given time and find Greg Steps on the list to play – belting his heart out with his slightly country twang and the storytelling nous of a folk star in the making.
Greg has not only used this scene to build connections in the new place he calls home, but also to reinforce his already clear line of talent, and present a form of his music that he had not always been 100% comfortable with.
“Open mic is kind of a dirty word… especially amongst ‘real musicians’…” says Greg, “But for artists like myself, it’s been really important for my development and pretty much everyone I know in Melbourne is purely through the open mic circuit”
To really appreciate the Greg Steps experience, you need to see the live show. There are a number of singer/songwriters in this town whom you can tell just how much the story they are sharing with the audience means to them, and Steps is no exception, with raw emotion not only shown in what you see from his physicality in front of you, but with the way in which he relaxes deeper into every song, calmly blows away at his impressive collection of harmonicas and speaks of each tune with a memory.
Stylistically, it is difficult to pinpoint Greg’s crossroads. It’s some sort of a coming together of alt-country, folk and a dash of that ‘Australiana’ thing – a Jackson Browne meets Neil Young meets Paul Kelly kind of quality.
“It’s quite bizarre how it came about, because I don’t listen to that much folk music, and country; country is a genre I know nothing about… maybe connections through people like Neil Young, with a bit of Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, even though they are not strictly country,” he emanates; “It was more songwriting that I was drawn to, and folk and country, I think, is just an excellent format for writing songs”
“It’s like the bare bones of the song,” Greg continues, recounting his adornment for the rawness and openness of the singer/songwriter format; “[The songs are] completely stripped back, and there’s little distraction and I really am drawn to that…”
“When you have a band, there’s a lot of options that can distract how bad a song can be… [but] there’s no tricks to folk and country music. If the songs’s not good, it’s not good! It’s blatantly obvious.”
‘Early Hours of Morning’ was a video release from Greg Steps in 2016 which told a somewhat solitary and dark tale and proved to be a very worthy visual accompaniment to the song itself. This was Greg’s first foray into the world of music videos, and the hardest part of the process, he says, isn’t probably what many people would think.
“Acting was really hard. I never realised that walking, and trying to make it look like you’re walking normally – I’ve never been so self-conscious about walking in my life – they just said ‘walk normally,’ I’ve never walked normally in my life – then I had to think about it…”
“You look like you’re walking and you know you’re being filmed!”
Reflecting back on the production and release of ‘The Overland’, Greg admits that the impending release has been a “long time in the making,” with songs written and being performed over a number of years and an unpaid band “doing it out of the goodness of their heart”, Greg outwardly possesses a gratitude for the kindness and support they have shown to believe in his songs and be an integral part of this project.
Greg Steps & The Not for Prophets release & launch the EP ‘The Overland’ on Friday, February 24th at The Wesley Anne – 250 High St, Northcote. Support from Anna Cordell and Oliver Downes. Tickets $10 at the door with CDs available on the night.
Following the success of Australia-wide tours alongside one of Australia’s biggest singer/songwriter names, Byron Bay native – now Melbourne-based – pop/folk songwriter, Domini Forster, gears up for the release of her very first full-length album in early 2017. Armed with a live show that highlights a melancholic sweetness; the great divide between positive and negative emotion, and; Forster’s multi-instrumental skills (with the main focus on guitar and ukulele), the last piece of the puzzle is now almost firmly secured. We caught up with Domini for a chat on all things musical in her past, and into her future, before she appears at Melting Pot’s Songwriters in the Round event at Cromwell Studios on Friday, December 9th.
Music has featured in Domini Forster’s life from a very early age. Being brought up through the Steiner School system in Byron Bay had her introduced to instruments and classroom music training through her formative school years, including a number of years where playing a stringed instrument was a compulsory part of her schooling - yet it wasn’t until Domini’s early teens where the passion exuded itself and transformed into the realm of a songwriter.
“I can’t put a finger on an exact moment, but I always loved singing, and performing and just being involved,” Domini says;
“At some point a boy taught me a few chords on guitar,” she recounts; “The first song I wrote was actually a song about breaking up with him!”
Forster candidly describes her writing style as her main cathartic process, and a way in which she deals with many of her emotions and thoughts. This is unsurprising when you take into account that many songwriters’ processes follow a similar path, however listening to some of Domini’s content and the way in which it is delivered, you’d be forgiven for thinking there was more at play.
She reaches an almost uncomfortable depth at times, clearly showcasing her full appreciation of the wide range of emotion which she intuiting. To come to terms with realising that something so deep and complex sounding having the most simplest of explanations or genesis, is sometimes the best possible result, and also provides a more direct connection with the artist as a whole.
I think this is a big part of what makes Domini Forster such a special artist, she is easily connectable. There are no smoke screens or hidden meanings, in a very much ‘what you see is what you get’ package.
“It’s a cathartic thing for me, and it just felt so satisfying, so there was never a question for me that I would ever stop doing that…”
Domini also reflects on her involvement with Melting Pot’s events over the years, particularly Songwriters in the Round as a reminder of her home area in Byron Bay:
“I grew up in a pretty community-centred place and have gone to a lot of house concerts in my time and that style of music, it just feels like the core of where music started for humans, that ‘round the campfire;’ sharing stories in song form… I love playing to people who want to listen.”
Her move to the big smoke culminated with releasing a small EP, 'Little Dreamer,' in 2013, a snippet of original material which is still available digitally through soundcloud.com/domini-forster.
Having had sprawling success throughout the past couple of years whilst on tour with Lior, Forster has fully capitalised on this exposure to a new and wide-ranging audience.
After discovering Domini at a songwriting competition in which he was the guest artist, Lior approached her to extend some on-stage opportunities which quickly transformed into a range of small regional tours with the multiple ARIA-nominated artist.
The swag of tours accepted Forster’s music so well that she was then given the support slot for Lior’s national tour to celebrate the 10th anniversary of his debut album, ‘Autumn Flow,’
“It was such an incredible record, and so many people have such a connection to it, so it was absolutely amazing,’ Domini reminisces.
She continues work on her debut album, ‘Raven,’ due to be released in March 2017. ‘Raven’ was recorded with the masterful Nick Huggins at his home studio in Point Lonsdale, and will prove to be Domini Forster’s biggest collection of original songs to date. Domini reflected on the making of ‘Raven’ as a difficult yet highly rewarding process;
“If any musician tells you that making an album is fun and easy… they’re bullshitting,” she explains; “But it was an amazing process, and I stressed about it, and put my heart and blood and sweat and tears into it…” something that you’ll no doubt be able to hear and experience upon its release next year.
The future journey for Domini Forster is yet to be mapped out, but if one were to interpret the direction, the feeling amongst her peers and immediate community is certainly that the only direction will be up.
Domini Forster appears with accompaniment from multi-instrumentalist and singer Phoebe Sanger this Friday night, December 9th at Melting Pot’s Songwriters in the Round – to be held at Cromwell Studios: 136A Cromwell St, Collingwood.
Written and compiled by Josh Forner for www.meltingpotonline.com
In the early hours of the morning - American time - on the 9th of November, 2016, society failed.
Society failed and entrusted the most powerful economy in the world to a man whose entire campaign was fixated on the idea of fear.
Fear of people who are 'different' to the lowest common denominator. Fear of people who do vow to change society's views and stretch our entrenched fabric. Yet that is the exact thing he has brainwashed his followers in to believing he will do, whilst he closes the opportunities for everyone else.
My deepest fear with Trump isn't what he might say - although that is a problem in itself; it isn't who he will segregate - although that is a problem in itself; it isn't about who will get left behind, who will be worse-off, which country he will antagonise - although all of these things are problems in themselves.
No, my biggest fear, is how his supporters will react when he can't do the things he has told them he is going to do.
There are many extreme policies in a proposed Donald Trump presidency, the most famous ones we know - building the wall between Mexico and the USA; ousting all Muslims and banning them from entering the USA; removing trade arrangements with China - and many of these policies were proven to be unpopular within his own party. So we wonder precisely just how much control he will have, given the division that exists within his own standing members.
And the followers, they aren't a group of people that I want to see get angry. The litany of uneducated, free-wheeling bigots that Trump spoke to with aplomb is outstanding. He has forced people out of political hibernation, who had never voted before and probably planned to never vote in their lives, because of the measured and diplomatic speak and tone of politicians.
Up steps Candidate Trump with his blatant racism, misogyny, and disregard for decency. A loose cannon ready to fire no matter where he's aiming. BOOM! Black America; BOOM! LGBTIQ; BOOM! Latinos; BOOM! Women.
The other fear that strikes me is with America itself. The fact that they couldn't bear the idea of a female president.
Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't endorse Hillary Clinton as a candidate in the first place, but it is who we had, and it is who was expected to lead the charge and come out victorious for the good of humanity on Wednesday.
America couldn't handle it.
They think they have voted for progress - they have voted for regress. A return to the height of fascism for the so called 'Greatest Place on Earth,' I tell you what, it was a much greater place on Tuesday evening.
The political thought bubble in the United States of America is flabbergasting to an outsider. It is a land that believes universal healthcare is the only step you need to take to be labelled as a communist nation, yet the right to owning a gun and being able to fire it at will is something that is sacrosanct and should never be removed from the rights of the people.
I would like to say that I am surprised, but quite frankly I am not. Having spent some of my formative years living in this country, and having close family still living there today, I am privy to exactly what the psyche of much of the population is, and how little they actually know how to think for themselves.
My fear is that America has voted for Progress and for a state of 'Revolution,' yet both progressiveness and revolution are dirty words on the right side of politics, and I'm sure the Republican Party would not stand for these types of labels.
Donald Trump's only interest in this election, in this position, in gaining the title of President, is entitlement for the entitled. The poor middle and upper-class white man is finally seeing things shift to an equilibrium (I said shift - there's a bloody long way before it gets anywhere near there!) after centuries of domination and having the world at his feet, and he feels he is entitled to his entitlement.
Trump will govern for Trump. He is a billionaire businessman with his own interests at heart. He's certainly not Richard Branson, whom if elected I would have no doubt would do a sterling job as he displays the qualities of compassion, empathy and resolve with his fellow man. Donald Trump identifies with a certain type of person, but he certainly doesn't feel for them, he doesn't care for them, and he certainly isn't going to defend them if it comes between him or the people.
It is clearly disparaging to me, and to many other decent folk, that such a horrible man could become so powerful. A man with no morality, the stability of a see-saw and the rationale of a fascist.
America has elected the face of capitalism to try and take it to capitalism.
Can anyone else see how this isn't going to work?
Society has failed. Failed to be a society. Failed to care about the lives of others and succeeded in confirming that being selfish is a human trait that no extent of evolution will ever absolve.
I was somewhat shocked to receive such belittling and insulting comments in my personal Facebook inbox lately, from someone whom I'd previously respected in the sector of local, independent music. After his offering of slander and what I pretty much have taken as "stop making music because you are not good enough," this person has lost all respect and dignity from my end, and I wanted to point out how much some people just do not understand what it means to be creative.
To defend my so called "negative" comment; I merely asked "why?" In response to the news that a friend and fellow songwriter was going to be appearing on a Television talent show, which I thought nothing of; a mere valid question, as I am always interested in knowing what drives somebody to make that jump.
Most people who know me well, will know that I am a staunch supporter of local & original music, and certainly not a supporter of such television talent contests.
The indecency of this person to use this opportunity to talk down my musical ability absolutely astounded me, particularly during a well-documented period of personal crisis (which, if he "ignored" me so much, he probably didn't even contemplate), which completely tipped me over the edge.
Never in my 9 years in the music industry have I been confronted by such hateful and sinister criticism - which is why I love Melbourne and music & artistic communities I find myself in - all they have done over that time is commend my tireless effort, my constant learning, and my vast improvement over time; obviously someone that has ignored me wouldn't have the slightest clue about.
As for my "negtivity," sure; I'm first to admit that my immediate reaction to some things can certainly be negative, and that I don't have the most optimistic outlook on life, partially - but not entirely - due to my ongoing struggle with a mental illness, which again is something that somebody who has ignored me wouldn't know about.
And so, I thought, "fair enough; this guys is mad about me reacting a certain way to one of his friends, I can deal with that," but it went on...
Continuing to deface and insult my status as a performer, referring to a point in time (probably 3+ years ago) where I was upset by a lack of support from the community and my friends, whilst going through a difficult time and using my "ability" as the reasoning that OTHER PEOPLE probably weren't turning up, as if channeling some sort of psychic ability to think that everyone else's subjective opinion on my music would be the same as his.
I am truly sorry that this guy has the expectation that every local performer should instantly sound like some sort of pop superstar, or else they don't deserve the space that they are singing on.
I am also truly sorry that I never got a true an honest response from the artist I initially asked the question to, but instead got a tirade of unwarranted and shameful abuse from a bitter old man who obviously never had the talent or drive to be a creative himself, so has to sit back on his high horse and constantly, day in, day out, comment and judge and nitpick the abilities of others.
Well, bravo, Mr. Arsehole, your abuse worked. I got off the stage. I couldn't even do the show I had booked later in the week that you sent this, because I was so overwhelmed with depression and anxiety over the words you said that I couldn't even bring myself to physically be on stage, in front of people, performing my songs - something that has given me some of the most joy in my life. You have ruined that for me.
I am hugely proud of my achievements over the past 3 years. My ability is continually improving: in performance, in writing, in recording and engineering. I know this because of the praise I get from people like Kevin Murphy, Karl Huttenmeister, Anna Cordell, Jakksen Fish, Georgia Rose, Tracey Hogue, Tim Woods, Al Parkinson, Liam Dixon & Michael Yule - among others. These are all people who know what they're talking about, who are around original music at its grass roots level, day in and day out; who appreciate what amount effort goes into everything that I do - because it's what they do to.
So I choose to listen to these people, not an old fogey who used to be on Community Radio so has some sort of heightened sense of musical royalty, that he can brandish things around, no matter how hurtful, destructive or potentially career-shattering they can be.
I'm standing up to this bully of a man, and I am making a new record, and this new record is going to be so many times better than anything he would have expected me to bring out, because that is how far I have come; whether he chooses to like it, or know it, or not.
My message to you all is, don't let anybody talk down YOUR dreams and YOUR art. YOUR art exists because it came from a place inside of you. YOUR art will connect you with the people that WANT to consume it; who hear the effort in it; who acknowledge what it takes to bring that art to fruition.
People that don't understand it will try to bring you down, but they can't; because it is not THEIR art to bring down. They don't connect with it, they don't understand your process or where any of it came from. So bad luck to them.
And bad luck to this arsehole.
There's been a question rattling through my head of recent times, following the announcement of the women's national AFL competition, and the inaugural Women's Big Bash League in the past 12 months. That question is merely, why do we not pay as much attention to valid forms of female professional sport?
Curiously, that question extends to the premise that we need to pay women considerably less for following the path of a professional athlete than we do with their male counterparts.
Of course, if we're talking dollars and cents, the answer is that women's sport doesn't attract the same amount of sponsorship dollars as men's sport; but then again, there still lingers the question: why?
From the outside looking in, it appears that as a society that we completely devalue the realm of female professional sport. In a world where were are constantly playing catch-up on the dark ages where men brought home the bacon and women cooked it and cleaned up afterwards, it feels that the intricacies of the modern world just aren't being paid enough attention.
Professional sport for females is nothing new; Australia has posed long-term success in athletics, field hockey, swimming, golf and pro surfing just to name a few, but it is within the sports that are earmarked as 'male-dominated' or perceived as 'men only' where problems continue to present themselves.
First is the problem in the above perception. With this at play, it is no surprise that women aren't valued in these sports. They're (apparently) only for men, so women that play it mustn't be serious. Right? Wrong.
Absolutely anybody that pursues a career in professional sports: male; female; straight; gay; African; Asian; European - they are all serious about it - mark my words. It takes constant hard work and determination to gain success in an industry that is largely dog-eat-dog. Most athletes start with next to nothing, and have to build their profiles through endorsements and public appearances before they even begin to make a living out of their performances on the field - and yes, this is typical of MALE sportspeople; so let's take that difficulty and multiply it for women.
The main idea of writing this article is to pose the question; "Why do we not hold female sport in the same regard as male sport?"
It is not uncommon for a talented female athlete to be trained-up in multiple sports, and playing multiple sports, just so that they can make some sort of a living off their chosen career. The most recent example of such being professional cricketer and soccer player, Ellyse Perry, who has successfully represented her country in both sports at the highest level.
I can't see any valid reason why we should be treating the two any differently. Sportspeople are sportspeople. They undergo the same training, the same setbacks, the same grueling schedules to attain the best possible results for themselves, and - if relevant - their teams or their countries.
Luckily enough, in 2015, the Victorian Athletic League, Stawell Athletic Club and, major sponsor Woolworths, eventually agreed, and presented equal prize money for both the men's 120m Gift and Women's 120m Gift; the richest foot-races in Australia.
I feel a change is afoot, and may have been led by the aforementioned announcements of national professional leagues, however, until we are seeing women sportspeople getting equal recognition, admiration, coverage and - most importantly - equal PAY; then it is very hard to take these steps towards professional female sport in this country seriously.
Originally published by Daniel Wilcox, www.theroar.com.au on Jan 2, 2016.
Being an umpire or referee in any sport is a tough, and often thankless job. You are constantly assessed and criticised by the vast majority of people that are watching, even if the viewer has little or no idea of what is happening with the game.
These people look at one thing: free kicks. Namely, free kicks that they disagree with, usually for the reason that it went against their team.
On the other end, you often have a coach or assessor at the ground, whose job it is to evaluate your performance. These people look at everything you do; positioning, game control, body language, communication.
There is a whole side to officiating a game that most people only notice when something goes really wrong.
Like a footy club, umpires work as a team. From a junior game with two field umpires, right up to a full panel of 11 umpires (three field, four boundary, two goal, two emergency), everyone works together on the day to minimise the incorrect calls. It is not uncommon to hear another umpire yell “nice bounce” or “good throw” after good execution in a game. Alongside positioning, teamwork is one of the major factors affecting how many incorrect decisions are made in a game.
During the week, just like a footy club, umpires train together. Twice a week, the umpires from the local area will go through drills to improve their fitness and skills.
Also like a club, sometimes everyone will train together, whether you are state league level, or about to do your first Under-12s game as a teenager. Other times, people train separately, so that the session is at a pace that will suit everyone.
The general football population expects umpires to be perfect. On the one hand, I see this as a compliment; that perfection is within reach. If the level of officiating was consistently lower than the expected level, then expectations would be altered to reflect this. However, the expectation is still that there will be so few mistakes in a game, that those mistakes can be individually discussed (and often criticised).
There is a saying around the umpiring world: “The day you have a perfect game is the day you retire.” In other words, there is always room to improve.
But umpires are only human. In one game, a field umpire will make many thousand decisions (or non-decisions), all in real time, with less than a second to process each one. Then you have the distractions: the crowd, the weather, players, runners, trainers, all in the same space as you. All it takes for one of these people to obstruct your view of a contest is to run past at the wrong time. In the blink of an eye, you may have ‘missed’ something, even though you are in perfect position.
Spectators often think they have a free pass when talking about umpires. They believe that it is their ‘right’ to use abusive language, and insult the umpire as a person because of what they do.
In a game I officiated earlier this year, a player going for the ball was crunched in a big (but legal) hip-and-shoulder from a much larger opponent. The opponent who laid the hit was very sportsmanlike, checked that the injured player was okay, and signalled to the bench when the answer was no. The player was helped from the field by his team’s trainers, and the game continued.
A few minutes later, at the three-quarter-time break, the injured player’s mother stormed out onto the field (into the area that is set aside for only umpires), swearing at us, calling us incompetent, and demanding that the player who laid the bump be reported and sent off the field.
A polite explanation of our course of action was met with increased abuse from the woman, who had to be taken away by some of her son’s teammates to settle down.
Another example, and one that I am less proud of, was from earlier in my career as an umpire. A young field umpire was just starting out, and learning very quickly. A group of us were in the stands to provide some support to the umpire (a common occurrence), when again, a player’s mother was complaining about every ‘mistake’ that the umpire made, even though most of the complaints were completely baseless.
A few of the less tolerant in the group (including the young umpire’s brother) quickly figured out who the lady’s son was, moved directly behind her, and started to make comments every time he missed a kick or dropped a mark. The mother didn’t take long to get annoyed at the complaints about her son, and asked why they were singling out her son like that. When they pointed out that she had been doing the same to one of their friends, her response was, “But he’s an umpire.”
After a few minutes to calm down, both groups apologised to each other.
But what happens if you don’t have a group of semi-confrontational people willing to stand up against that ingrained abuse? A lot of spectators don’t even realise what they are saying about the umpire, and some believe that because they are talking about an umpire, they can say what they want.
A shift away from the abuse of officials at higher levels is slowly filtering down through competitions, but there needs to be more people pushing this message right through to the grass-roots level, as that is breeding ground not just for players, but the next generation of officials as well.
Robert Murphy has been a vocal proponent of showing umpires more respect, and a favourite quote of his sticks with me for every game of sport that I watch, officiate, spectate, or am involved in any capacity:
“For anyone going to the footy this week, at any level, raise a glass to the umps. Footy needs them.”
In closing, I have a simple request: imagine the umpire or referee out there giving up their time to run the game is your son, daughter, brother, sister, best friend or teammate. If you wouldn’t say what you are thinking to them, why should someone else have to cop it, just because ‘they are an umpire’?
After a successful session at Tonyk on High in October, Live Music returns to Friday night with 3 of Melbourne's most intriguing singer/songwriters taking the stage.
It will all start around 7 PM with dinner options available and a selection of drinks at bar prices. Come along and join the fun, as we've got your Tonyk on this Melbourne Friday night!
JOE FORRESTER returns from the wilderness, as recording continues for his upcoming album. Forrester is no stranger to Melbourne's stages, but has spent the last few years in hibernation, waiting for the right time to impress with his new tunes. He makes his long-awaited return at Tonyk.
JOSH FORNER continues to expand his already impressive repertoire. Also in the middle of compiling studio album number 2, Forner connects his live audience through words his words and the passion with which he delivers each song. Mixing his well-known acoustic style with vibrant and etherial electric guitar in a solo setting, his live show continues to make considerable leaps.
CIARAN BOYLE is a native of Ireland and has been a regular in Melbourne's open mic scene for quite some time. Boyle has also been well sought after in the Irish Pub circuit with his uniquely raspy yet crisp vocal style and original tunes to get lost in, Ciaran Boyle is a performer that must be on your must-see list for 2015!
I'd like to take this opportunity to announce the launch of my concept into sustainable employment for people with a mental illness diagnosis in Australia.
The concept is called the 'Sustainable Employment Mentoring Initiative,' or; SEMI for short. The Sustainable Employment Mentoring Initiative (SEMI) is a concept to fill an identified service gap among people diagnosed with a mental illness.
Brainchild of Peer Support and Mental Health advocate, Josh Forner, SEMI hopes to provide ongoing support to employees and employers alike through a mentoring, coaching and informal counseling approach within the workplace.
Often, people diagnosed with a Mental Illness find themselves unemployed or underemployed and on Centrelink benefits, and are consequently pushed through the Job Services system, where they are provided with assistance in finding employment.
The support and assistance once that employment is secured, however, seems to fall away, and this is where SEMI wishes to become involved.
SEMI will provide businesses with the support they need for employers to better understand the needs of people they employ with a mental illness, and also provide ongoing in-house support for the employee; giving them an opportunity to air out any issues and have a safe and knowledgeable contact - external to their workplace structure - to confide in.
SEMI will provide mentoring assistance to employees in their new positions, as well as coaching and information to employers on both the challenges and benefits of employing people diagnosed with a mental illness.
SEMI believes in an idea of "safe disclosure" within the workplace, and wishes to promote this ideal so that employees and employers alike can move on with the important things in their day-to-day operations, whilst SEMI provides an informed approach to support and care within the workplace.
At this point in time, SEMI is still only a concept, and I am certainly looking for any support and assistance in way of resources, ideas, strategy or funding. The time was right to launch this project, and give it a face and a purpose.
To keep updated on SEMI, please visit and 'Like' the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/semiaus/
Thank you for your support!
Two words which should ignite the fury in anyone who is suffering from any type of mental illness are the two words, 'I understand," these are the two words that are generally the shortcut to perceived empathy, but what is the underlying meaning of understanding, and does the respondent and their personal experience really lead to a level of understanding?
The modern and widely-accepted form of treatment for mental health conditions is recovery-oriented and person-centred. For those of you who are unfamiliar with these terms, I'll explain a little further:
Recovery-oriented refers to the process of returning to independence, empowerment and possessing a meaningful life focus. Recovery is a non-linear process, and from time to time, there will be peaks and troughs within each person's own individual recovery experience, but recovery is the goal from which people can still exist meaningfully in society alongside their diagnosis.
Person-centred refers to the way in which recovery-oriented practice and psychosocial rehabilitation is delivered, and that is that each individual has his or her own experiences, and only the individual can inform and take hold of his or her own recovery.
With these two things in mind, how is it that people can be so magically understanding of a person's plight, when indeed, it is an experience of their own.
Eliminating 'I understand' could go a long way to improving people's displeasure with public stigma and indeed their reservations within the service system.
'I understand' is often used as a way in which people in positions of authority may attempt to lower themselves or remove the perception of being higher, and also is more of an emotional connection with usual human emotion of being upset or disappointed. That's all good and well, but being depressed, anxious, grief-stricken, paranoid, etc. are not the same thing; sure there are elements of the aforementioned emotions existing within the overall blend of the experience, but they are not the driver, they are not the constant and they most certainly do not respond to 'understanding'.
The third word which might strike a chord with people who sit with a mental health diagnosis is often a suffix to the initial 'I understand,' and this word; 'but...'
'I understand, but...' is the perfect example of exactly why you don't understand, and until you have the experience of paralysing discontent, of being a mind frozen in a body, of being completely disconnected with the world as you know it for days, weeks, months on end; you never will understand.
If you truly understood, you would never continue with 'but...' - and this is what infuriates and frustrates these people, their carers and the community service workers employed to assist these people, the most.
A physical illness is easily defined, it is easily conveyed, and it is, within reason, almost widely and completely accepted by society as a legitimate barrier to productivity and to functionality of a person; however something is not quite right in a world that can't define a mental illness as the same sort of barrier, and asks the individual to 'toughen up' because 'everyone else goes through it'.
You don't understand, and you do not recognise it as an illness; so stop telling us that you do.