The counsellor who embraced disability to support other men

Robbie Veneziano, volunteer feature. 05 Februray 2016Photo: Trevor Veale / The Coffs Coast Advocate
Robbie Veneziano, volunteer feature. 05 Februray 2016Photo: Trevor Veale / The Coffs Coast Advocate Trevor Veale

IT'S clear to see counsellor Robbie Venziano, of the Boambee East Community Centre, hasn't had life easy.

Making the best of the hand life has dealt, Robbie now embraces his disability to engage with other men by offering support during their troubled times. In his capacity as a paid counsellor, Robbie aims to empower people with disabilities to pursue their career dreams.

What do you do?

We run a men's support group and what we do is we gather on Thursday nights. The foundation of it is to get men to come to a safe place and come and basically share their life stories. We create a safe and confidential environment where they are able to share their joys and sorrows of life.

What's your favourite part about your job?

For me, it is just seeing the transformation of some men who come in and are in a very distraught way at first and then through a period of time they feel up lifted again. They have greater capacity to re-function and land back into the community. The transformation is rewarding. There was one guy who went through a separation after many years of being married, he was obviously devastated and felt lost, confused alone. Coming here, feeling that support and validated through other men's stories who have gone down a similar path he's really come back and feeling good and he's found new ways to connect out in the community. He's been able to support himself very well now, he's also now contributing now as a role model to the other guys and has been able to support others who come in. He's come 360 basically.

What inspired you to pursue a career as a counsellor?

As you can see I have a physical disability myself, I've stepped through the challenges of life so finding my own way through that I think there's a very fine line between happiness and contentment and feeling devastated about things. I just feel though my own journey that I've accumulated enough points to be able to share some of this with other guys and what really motivates me and to empathise with their pains and due to my own experiences I can really draw out of that.

How to you hope the men's support group will grow in the coming years?

My desire is to continually have this as a platform for men to tap into and a support base. Whether I'm here or not I would still over to see this to be on-going and create a support system for guys to tap into.

Topics:  coffs harbour community champions counsellor

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