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A new year, a new name

Throughout the past thirty years, MIFQ has undergone tremendous growth and transition.

In 2009 there were a number of significant changes, most notably the adoption of a new name.

The Schizophrenia Fellowship became the Mental Illness Fellowship of Queensland, a move reflecting the Fellowship’s support of people with a variety of mental illnesses, not just schizophrenia.

MIFQ President, Ken Meissner said the change was not taken lightly.

“Despite this change, MIFQ remained intensely proud of its origins,” said Ken.

“Our commitment to our grassroots – people living with mental illness, their families and carers – was still just as strong, but as we continued to grow change was inevitable”.

“The vast majority of ‘Fellowships’ in other states had made the change, so it did make sense for Queensland to embrace the broader member and client focus represented by the new name”.

“This was an important change for the future direction of MIFQ, however in recognition of our history, we did retain ‘Schizophrenia Fellowship of Queensland Incorporated’ as the constitutional description under the relevant state legislation.”

Growth also meant a need for a bigger place to call home and in 2009, MIFQ’s board committed its resources to refurbishing a historic but disused building for use as its new Brisbane office at Herston.

“We had to jump through quite a few hoops, but successfully passed onerous regulatory and heritage requirements to get the go ahead,” said Ken.

 

“It not only gave us a more visible presence, importantly, it meant we could expand the services we offered and reach out to more people,” said Ken.

There were changes in the ranks as well – with the decision made to appoint a full-time CEO.

“By 2009 MIFQ had become a well recognised service provider and a significant employer organisation,” said Ken.

“With that kind of growth and all of the complexities it entailed we needed someone at the helm in a full-time capacity.”

Dr Wayne Clarke had performed the role on a part time basis for a number of years. Following his resignation, the then General Manager, Dr Gaye Keir held the position in an acting capacity. Tony Stevenson, the current CEO was appointed to the full role in 2011 and has since successfully taken MIFQ to the next stage of its development as a major service organisation.

MIFQ was making inroads further afield as well. Hard won tenders under the Australian Government funded Personal Helpers and Mentors (PHAMS) Program enabled MIFQ to extend it services to Toowoomba and the Sunshine Coast.

The Toowoomba site took in rural areas such as Gatton, Helidon, Crows Nest, Yarraman and Dalby.

The Sunshine Coast site at Cooroy, became one of the largest in Queensland, reaching into Maroochydore, Nambour, Noosa, Tewantin, Gympie, Gayndah, Murgon and Cherbourg.

“It really was a year that MIFQ demonstrated its commitment to excellence in everything it does and to continuous improvement,” said Ken.

“Ensuring MIFQ could meet the challenge of providing effective support as community views changed and more resources came our way, was vital to our continued success.”