Advocate honoured for seeing the invisible

March 2, 2024 BY

Compassionate: Dr Mary Hollick has been advocating in the mental health space for more than 20 years. Photo: TIM BOTTAMS

WHETHER it be raising awareness for women’s safety during her time as a student, or to the security of casual contracts while at Federation University, Dr Mary Hollick said advocating for others has been a lifelong drive for her.

Working for decades in the mental health advocacy space she said her goal, like many of her pursuits, was born out of lived experience.

“My mother was a very sensitive, lovely person who suffered with mental ill health. I lost a sister to it, and I have a son who lives with it too,” she said.

“In this sphere, they’ve been my three great teachers from whom I’ve learned everything. Then in speaking to families and carers, you learn a great deal about the extent and degree of unnecessary suffering.

“Because of the invisibility of it, people can appear able but are having these crucifying thoughts. They suffer a double discrimination.”

Dr Hollick’s mental health advocacy is lately being utilised as part of Grampians Health’s Interim Regional Body, which will see her impart hers and other’s lived experience in establishing systemic mental health reforms across Victoria.

She said a highlight for her in the space has been working as part of the Ballarat Mental Health Collective for about a decade, which organises the free mental health expo and circle of solidarity.

Growing her advocacy concerns from those experiencing chronic mental health to their carers to supportive psychosocial housing, Dr Hollick’s efforts have continuously expanded.

As a steering group member for Compassionate Ballarat, Dr Hollick helped lead the Safe Shelter project, which attempted to provide housing for those experiencing homelessness, using the Ballarat Central Uniting Church as a shelter.

Dr Hollick said she plans to revive the initiative, and is currently part of an effort to bring a Sleepbus to the region.

“There’s a lot of misunderstanding with people on the street,” she said. “They can be disturbing at times when they’re particularly unwell.

“Most of the time, they’re self-medicating because they can’t access appropriate treatment. It’s been proven they can flourish with love and support.

“Rather than achievement, I think about contributions that are ongoing. I’m very privileged to be part of a very active congregation at Ballarat Central Uniting Church.”

Dr Hollick’s contributions in advocating for those experiencing chronic mental health, and homelessness have seen her honoured as one of six inductees in this year’s Ballarat’s Great Women honour roll coordinated by the Zonta Club of Ballarat.