Deck of Dreams Opening

(5.30pm, Wednesday 24 July 2013, Wayside Chapel)

Thank you, Graeme [Long] and hello, everyone. I would like firstly to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the people of 200 nations who live in our City.

I also acknowledge:

  • Mr Bradley Foxlewin, Deputy Mental Health Commissioner for NSW
  • Dr Peter McGeorge, director of the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Program at St Vincent's, and also a board member of the Wayside Chapel and, of course,
  • Jennifer Lee, founder of the Deck of Dreams project

It's a fantastic project, one which I was so pleased could be funded through my Lord Mayor's Salary Trust.

The idea was Jennifer's but the application came from St Vincent's through its City of Sydney Narrative Project.

The aim is to engage people who live with mental illness, with substance dependency, with social disadvantage or homelessness and equip them with the skills to tell their stories.

The focus in Deck of Dreams is on people living with mental health issues, whether directly or through association. So it has involved families and friends, carers, community members and health professionals, as well as those who are or have suffered illness themselves.

That's a pretty broad net - and a good reminder that strong and healthy communities only emerge when we are all engaged. Communities aren't created by people living in separate boxes.

And that's what's so wonderful about Deck of Dreams. It captures the spirit of community collaboration. It involved organisations around Sydney hosting workshops, creating spaces and providing other assistance for people to create their own artwork.

The deck tells a more positive story about mental health issues; it tells are there are ways forward; it reminds us that every individual matters, and that everyone has a story to tell.

We humans have always been story-tellers. Our stories help sift and order our experiences and make sense of an often-confusing world, they speak of our hopes and aspirations, and they remind us of our common humanity. Stories are how we teach, and hopefully learn from each other.

For some who participated in the Deck of Dreams, it was, perhaps, the first time they had the opportunity give voice to their dreams.

I am sure it was an incredibly empowering experience for all those who took part and it will be an enriching experience for all those who look carefully at what it is telling us.

I'm proud to have been able to support it through my Salary Trust, and proud to launch it here today. Thank you.