January 5, 2023

Forty-five years of service: Helen Milevski

Helen Milevski celebrated an amazing 45 years of dedicated service in 2022. To commemorate this special milestone, Helen speaks about her career, and the many changes the healthcare profession has seen since 1977.

Having reached 45 years of service in mental health is overwhelming when I look back on it. It is difficult to capture all my experiences, incredible memories and the highlights, challenges, and changes over that period of time. I can say that it has been a lifetime commitment which has been both challenging and rewarding.

I was 19 years old when I first started on 10 January, 1977. At that time, there were three different hospitals all located in the same grounds at Bundoora; Mont Park, Larundel and Plenty.

My first position was in Plenty Hospital based in the wards for the acute/geriatric and long-term care. In 1985-86, the three hospitals merged under one management – one of the very first mergers with many more to come.

My second role in the early 1980’s was a Level 2 Supervisor to domestic services staff, including heavy duty cleaning staff. This role lasted for nearly 15 years. I worked up to Level 4 Supervisor Training staff in hygiene/other domestic duties required for this role, and organising a rostering system for 80 staff. I also was on the roster working two days on and two days off. I was also involved in the relocation of wards and planning and organising the accommodation for overseas medical staff. Part of my duties was to also plan for and organise events, seminars, and conferences which at times, involved up to 100-150 people.

Since 1995, I have been working in an administration role in different areas such as community mental health clinics. Currently I am still in the same role based in Mill Park at Noogal Clinic.

I have witnessed so many changes over the 45 years. All the changes were intended for the best interests of the patients/clients, and involved relocations, merges, rebranding, restructuring and change of management and reporting lines. Personally, I was involved in 19 different relocations, and, at one stage, I had to apply for my own job! Luckily, I got it as I wouldn’t have made it to 45 years.

One of the positive changes that I can now see looking back, is the reduction of stigma for those with mental health conditions and the multiple programs and services which are now available for people to get help and support. Another significant change was having opportunities for staff to undertake professional development and training. This may be taken for granted now, but when I first started back in 1977 there was no such thing as professional development training.

When I reflect, I have a lot of happy memories, working with different staff, being part of the team and always feeling supported and respected, even during the hard times and times of stress. The highlight of my working journey has been to support clinicians in my admin role in the provision of the Carers’ Program. This involved monthly meetings with the carers’, providing them with a light lunch and information from guest speakers. It was heart-warming to see the carers’ having a really good time, developing friendships with one another, and supporting each other, especially towards end of the year for the Christmas gatherings.

At the middle of last year, we moved across to Northern Health. In my personal experience, that was a smooth transition because Northern Health, together with management, was very communicative and kept staff informed. It was very helpful and much appreciated that staff from Northern Health took the time and made the effort to visit us at Noogal Clinic together with Belinda Scott, Executive Director, Mental Health.

Overall, I can say that my working life over the last 45 years has been truly rewarding, because in my small way, I was part of helping people in their recovery. The most satisfying and rewarding aspect of my work was to witness the amazing work the team has achieved in helping the patients and clients recover.

Finally, the pandemic as we all know, touched everyone’s lives. This challenged us all to come together and look after one another. I want to acknowledge the hard work that everyone provided to the patients and clients during this difficult time. It showed the strength, resilience and capabilities that people have during challenging times.

Lastly, I want to say that what I have learnt the most over my 45 years of service in mental health is the importance of working as a team. Having respect for one another, valuing different opinions and perspectives, and appreciating your colleagues so that we can achieve the best outcomes for our patients and clients.

Thank you to everyone who I have worked with, I plan to be here for a few more years.