Our Stories

Every person, every event and every achievement at Figtree is a story to be told. Discover the stories behind who we are, how we make a difference, what we have going on and what is making news!

Deonny’s Story

by on August 23, 2017 in Our Social Impact

My counsellor referred me to Figtree Conference Centre at a time when I was landing in her office a lot, overwhelmed by anxiety and dwelling on problems from my past. I feel so good in myself since starting at Figtree, where I feel so supported, that I see her only occasionally now.

I had a good feeling about Figtree from the very first day. If I could have slept there, I would have! It was just such a positive place to be.

This place shows that everyone who has a disability can work just as well as anyone else does. We’re proud of what we do and having a disability doesn’t hold us back.

Hospitality is my life! I had 20 years’ experience in the industry and Figtree let me get going again, where I left off when life got challenging.

Having my peers alongside me who are dealing with similar issues has helped me to know I’m not the only one and I enjoy the interaction with people from all walks of life and lines of work. Maybe we didn’t get a degree, but here we are, loving what we do and doing it well!

Being a part of the launch party when we re-branded to Flourish Australia was exciting for me. Not only did I get to do what I loved on food service but I was given an opportunity to do some photography and get to know some of the management from the organisation. I had a ball being involved in everything from set-up and theming to greeting and serving everyone and showing them how things worked – like the juice bikes. That was all new to me but I got on and started demonstrating how it worked. You’re more able to get really involved like that here, in this environment.

The support I have around me at Figtree has meant so much to me. It has changed my whole life for the better. Even when I get something wrong, they walk me through getting it right with encouragement and patience. This is the first time I’ve ever had people around me who are genuinely happy for me when an opportunity comes along and they celebrate my success with me.

If it wasn’t for Figtree I would be shutting myself away at home, fretting.

Now, when I wake up and realise I have to go to work at Figtree I can’t wait to get going.

Having work I look forward to has changed the way I see things – it puts a smile on my face because I get to think about other people and what makes them happy instead of dwelling on myself and my problems.

When I used to stand behind a bar, waitressing, I always felt ‘my life isn’t ever going anywhere but since I’ve been at Figtree, things just keep getting better for me. I learn new skills every single day, I’m doing things I never thought I would and the opportunities just keep coming. For example, I have no degree; nothing – yet I was asked to join a meeting at Parliament House. I bought a new dress for the occasion but tried to hide in the shadows because I felt way out of my depth. But they got me up and introduced me to everyone and I was given some office experience there. I was shocked. After a week or two, everyone would say good morning to me. I really felt I fitted in! For someone like me to feel they belonged in a government agency was amazing. Going in off the street, I would be overlooked but Figtree believed in me enough to give me the chance and that made all the difference.

Figtree also got me into a brief writing course. I’d always stayed away from writing, even at school because I didn’t feel capable. But they taught me – you write as you speak. Now I can use the words I know the meaning of to express myself.

It’s thanks to Figtree that I feel confident knowing that about myself.

Doing my part for the Figtree team has put a spark back in my life when I used to want to shut myself away from everyone because I didn’t want to hear the negativity and put-downs anymore. I have four kids and if I feel down on myself, how can I help them with their self-esteem? At Figtree, they say ‘go for it’ , ‘good on you’. Their faith in me has helped me to believe in myself. I’m a different person for it and my positivity rubs off on my family. Now I’m able to encourage my kids and say “you’ll be ok, don’t give up!” and help keep them happy, healthy and working!

I’ll keep building up more confidence here until I can get a job out in the world. I want to be able to do that now that I see what’s possible for me. I want to keep growing!