Member of the Month – May 2020

Stepping Stone Clubhouse is our May Member of the Month!

Each month we will be highlighting the value and diversity of our members and the fantastic work they do in the community mental health sector.

Read on below to learn more about Stepping Stone Clubhouse


Please tell us a little bit about your organisation.

Stepping Stone is a member based community organisation that successfully addresses the serious impact of mental illness.  We are a community of people dedicated to one another’s recovery. 

Focusing on strengths rather than illness, our members are given the opportunities to rejoin the worlds of friendships, family, important work, employment, education, safe and affordable housing,  social recreation, and access to the services and supports they may individually need. 

Stepping Stone is a member of Clubhouse International. We are dedicated to suicide prevention and to ending social and economic isolation for people living with mental illness.


What are three words to describe your organisation?

Community, Empowerment, Purpose


How/why/when did your organisation get started?

In 1991, some members of the Schizophrenia Fellowship of Queensland had become tired of their loved ones being discharged from hospital with little to no community based services to offer meaningful support.  They decided they could no longer afford to wait for something to happen but instead would make something happen themselves.  A committee was formed with consumers, carers and professionals formulating a plan of action.

After some research into rehabilitation models, the committee agreed the best option was to advocate for the implementation of a Clubhouse in Brisbane.  Approximately three years after the committee formed the fellowship received two grants for the Clubhouse Project.  The two grants were in the form of one capital grant from Queensland Government and a grant from a private foundation for staff salaries.  A building was purchased late in 1993, and our doors opened in 1994. 


What inspires your work and what sets your organisation apart from everyone else?

Our main inspiration is that people with a mental illness have the desire to live a satisfying and productive lives.  The main thing that sets our organisation apart is that we are a partnership model.  All areas of the work are done in partnership with staff and participants.


Where does your organisation provide services? What type of services are offered?

Stepping Stone provides a support system for people living with mental illness, rather than a medical or a treatment program. We offer a broad spectrum of services as we believe that a holistic approach is required to fully assist people with a mental illness. The services included within the clubhouse model are:

  • The Clubhouse Work Ordered Day: Designed to include members in every aspect of the operation of clubhouse programs. In fact the program is intentionally understaffed so that it could not operate without the assistance and involvement of the membership. Through participation in the three work units (Clerical/Administration and Technology, Employment and Education, Hospitality) members engage in a range of useful activities that boost self-esteem and help prepare for other employment or education activities within the community. On average 60 members attend the clubhouse each day and last financial year over 600 members were active in the Clubhouse.
  • Supported Employment – a Transitional and permanent job placement program that provides opportunity for career development, on-the-job training and support, and job seeking services. 112 individuals have participated in these programs last financial year.
  • Supported Education – which helps coordinate and integrate services designed to assist a return to education at TAFE, university or private courses. Last financial year 40 members were involved in courses to develop a range of education from numeracy/literacy to university degrees.
  • Social Program – Through evenings, Saturday and public holidays (including Christmas Day) members are provided with opportunities for socialization, recreation and developing friendships. Last Christmas Day 87 members attended the clubhouse for Christmas lunch.
  • Outreach – Provide phone calls, emails, letters, hospital and home visits to members. This helps members to remain connected to the clubhouse.
  • Individual Plans – Plans are developed to highlight goals and the actions needed to address these aims. These goals may include daily living, vocational and social goals, depending on the needs of the individual.
  • Community Support – members are given help accessing the best quality services in their community including acquiring and keeping affordable and dignified housing, good mental health and general medical services, government disability benefits and any other services they may need. Members and staff from the clubhouse provide all of this support and assistance.
  • Housing – assists with accessing and sustaining accommodation for its members. All the assistance that we currently provide is done by both staff and members with no specific funding for housing support. Assistance includes networking with existing accommodation agencies and private landlords to find decent and affordable housing and providing the necessary support to move into this housing, such as locating cheap furniture, accessing bond loans, moving furniture and establishing budgets.

We receive referrals from all across the Greater Brisbane region


How many employees do you have? How many offices, and where are they located?

We currently have 21 staff, all operating out of our one location in Coorparoo.


How has your organisation changed over the last few years – and what has driven this change?

Obviously the largest change we have had to deal with over the past few years is the transitional from traditional block funding over to the National Disability Insurance Scheme.  The rollout of the NDIS nationwide has marked a fundamental shift in the way disability services are funded, and required an operational, financial, and strategic shift in thinking for our organisation. Our priority has been to ensure we were ready to make this change, and to embrace the new opportunities that it offers on all levels, while ensuring we stay true to our values and core philosophies, and continue to offer all of our services and supports to anyone that needs them.


Looking forward, what do you see as the main challenges/opportunities for your organisation, and why?

Adequate funding. 


Tell us something about your organisation that most people wouldn’t know? 

Stepping Stone is an International Training Base.  We provide Clubhouse training to clubhouses worldwide, this included to the first Clubhouse in China.


If there are any upcoming events or information you would like us to promote, please provide details (e.g. date, time, venue, weblink). 

We are currently providing a virtual Clubhouse during COVID-19.  During this time our planned events have been postponed.  Please refer to our website for future events.

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