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30 Years 30 Stories

Please join us in celebrating our 30th birthday with stories, facts and memories. In our newsletter, on our website and throughout social media, we will be sharing some of our favourite moments throughout our history. Join the conversation and share your memories with us.


We are spreading the birthday joy this year! Happy birthday to our members, supporters and celebrities also sharing in a 30th birthday celebration!

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In January 1985, Helen Martin published an article, ‘Schizophrenia – suffering in silence’, in the Living and Arts section of the Courier Mail.

The article provided brief insight into a very unknown and misunderstood illness, and called for people interested in forming a Queensland branch of the then, Australian Schizophrenia Fellowship, to come together and inspire systemic change.

Over thirty years, many things have changed, including how we speak about mental illness and the people who experience it, and the medical advances in understanding the illness, its causes and treatment options. Other things continue to change but at a much slower pace – attitudes towards people living with mental illness and societal understanding on the facts of mental illness.

We are committed to continuing the work of our founding members and those intricately linked to our history, and igniting acceptance, change and understanding.

This is the article as it was published in 1985......

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Pauline Jillett worked tirelessly to fight the stigma associated with mental illness and to improve support services in the community.

In the 1984 she was raising three sons and was looking forward to a comfortable retirement when one of her children was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

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Margaret Blackwood had a personal mission - to help her son through a life-changing illness. Her journey led to benefits for many MIFQ members.

Margaret refused to stand by and watch isolation engulf her child and others like him.

“We were just coming to terms with the schizophrenia, and through (MIFQ) I decided to get something going that would benefit my son, and other people’s children too,” said Margaret.

“We needed to recognise that it wasn’t an illness you just needed tablets for.”

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Having an open and honest conversation can help to breakdown common misconceptions about mental illness and reduce stigma in the community. Here are 30 celebrities who have done just that!

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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.

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Thirty years ago, a Brisbane Principal walked into a meeting at the Wesley Hospital to offer support to families emotionally bruised from the brick walls that had peppered their experiences with Schizophrenia.

No-one else at the meeting knew that the man before them was also in need of salvation.

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In 2013, MIFQ's Brisbane office moved into the former Victoria Golf Course Club House located on the corner of Herston Road and Gilchrist Avenue, Herston. Built by C.E. Fenwick in 1931, the two-storey Tuscan colonial-styled building has always been a much loved and historically recognised Brisbane icon.

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Before becoming involved with MIFQ, life member Paul Heffernan went from feeling totally lost to finding his voice.

It was a voice that 30 years ago, resonated in a community that was characterised by a severe lack of understanding about schizophrenia and mental illness, and the people who found themselves in its grasp.

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Before her passing in 2014, Frances Bowler finished writing a poignant account of her family’s very personal experience with mental illness.

Frances, known as Franki to her friends, worked tirelessly to promote understanding, and to remove the stigma of an illness that confronts so many.

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Shortly after moving into the new Brisbane office at Herston in 2013, MIFQ was dealt a devastating blow when arsonists set fire to a POD storage unit containing priceless records and memorabilia.

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There’s no doubt that Lee Steer, owner of REDSEA Gallery, eats, sleeps and breathes art. As the owner of one of Brisbane’s most prestigious galleries, he represents artists from around the world – and says it is pretty much a 24/7 proposition.

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MIFQ Board Member, Coby Pearce and MIFQ Payroll Officer, Birgit Halinen are dedicated members of the Gold Coast Regional Network. Over the years, they have witnessed many changes but the one constant feature has been their  strong friendship forged nearly twenty years ago.

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A recurring theme among MIFQ members is the desire to banish stigma and challenge conventional beliefs.

Adrian and Cynthia Bowler have successfully pushed that particular envelope, and then some.

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It’s Ekka time once again in Brisbane and for MIFQ that means nostalgic thoughts of operating the exhibition’s cloakroom.

One of Brisbane’s most popular events was also the backdrop for one of the MIFQ’s most successful fundraising projects for two decades.

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