Introducing Cherie Rowett:- Wellbeing, Resilience and Disability Consultant
In my view, humans experience health, wellbeing and resilience best when occupied in activities that hold meaning and purpose and that connect us socially. Indeed, this is the philosophy of occupational therapy – the profession in which I have worked for many years, where humans are seen as occupational beings – having a drive “to Do, to Be, to Become and to Belong” (this quote is from the renowned occupational scientist Ann Wilcock).
I’m a South Aussie trained occupational therapist, and bring extensive experience in:-
- providing client-centred care in the health and disability sector
- capacity building with adults who have neurological conditions
- functional cognition and neuroplasticity
- professional development and mentoring in cognitive rehabilitation for therapists
- design and delivery of university courses at undergraduate and postgraduate levels
- grant applications, project work and report writing
I also bring lived experience as a family carer. As an educator, I know that we can learn a lot through formal education, and equally, perhaps even more potently, the lived experiences embedded in our daily lives can teach us enormous lessons too.
One of the best teachers I’ve ever had in the area of empathy and resilience has been my sister, who has a congenital disability. Having her special needs to consider in our family as I was growing up has given me grass-roots insight into the important role of connection and community for both short term bounce-back from stress and long term sustainability. I have much admiration for her courageous spirit in the face of many challenges. More recently, I have been shown again the importance of resilience – this time as a wife and mother facing bereavement.
Since 2013 we had faced an uncertain future due to my husband’s cancer diagnosis. It was certainly challenging to face this unwelcome medical condition. I am left with no doubt that the quality of human relationships – particularly being able to uphold empathy and compassion for each other – is key to resilience in facing huge challenges such as this. After my husband’s passing, empathy and compassion continued to be paramount to be able to support our child in his mourning, and were also some of the qualities that I appreciated most from my friends and relatives as they supported me in my bereavement. Self-care strategies were essential too.
Neuroadapt was formed in 2007 to provide occupational therapy services and consultancy to clients and their families in the home and community setting, including medico-legal assessments and reports, driver assessment and rehabilitation programs. Set up and review of tailored support programs for client-centred daily living skills training and social participation in the community was another key activity – in close liaison with clients and families.
Heart Choice Enterprises was added to the mix from 2015, honouring my commitment to use my gifts and professional skills both in the disability sector and in the social change arena.
From 2015 to 2017 Heart Choice Enterprises provided input to a collaborative social change project titled Happy Hearts Hub, where we applied the social synergy principles from NOW Leadership Inc. to cordially build more community-wellbeing together. Elizabeth Ellames, Gail Glastonbury, Prema Joy and Sue Lohmeyer all contributed to the Happy Hearts Hub project while it was running – with all of us sharing aligned values that connected us across our varied skills and areas of expertise. During that time we:-
- developed and hosted conversational events to bring people together to experience more community wellbeing, eg a screening of the documentary titled “The Connection” about the latest science around the mind-body connection for healing, produced by Australian journalist and filmmaker Shannon Harvey.
- contributed to local government Harmony Day celebrations at the invitation of Mitcham Council in 2016 and 2017.
- designed and hosted a conversational event for Harmony Day 2017 that purposefully facilitated conversations amongst those present that would build more understanding of diversity. This was delivered in partnership with NOW Leadership Inc, Australian Migrant Resource Centre, Blackwood Circle of Friends, Khadija Gbla, Geoff Boyce, and with financial sponsorship from Precious Cargo Childcare and Early Learning.
Since 2017 commitment to supporting support workers and carers has deepened as I have developed a deeper understanding of my own brand story.
As a founding Board member with NOW Leadership Inc I focus on personal and community wellbeing and resilience practices in the social change and social enterprise space. I am honoured to work with these three fellow Board members who are also committed to growing a positive future:-
- Elizabeth Ellames – who has created an original typology and developed practical tools to help people discover their purpose and then live a life on purpose
- Courtney Wilson – who has expertise in organisational change management, business strategy and planning
- Lisa McAskill – who offers training to give people the skills and confidence to effectively communicate their story, ideas, and visions both on camera and in live presentations, drawing on her extensive experience in the television and media industry
The talents and progressiveness of Elizabeth, Courtney and Lisa are impressive. It is an honour to bring my expertise in praxis, wellbeing and resilience to join them in collaboratively guiding NOW Leadership Inc. to fulfil its’ mission, vision and strategic plan.
I have much gratitude for the following esteemed mentors, teachers and frameworks that influence my professional practice:-
- Ann Wilcock – Ann is an occupational therapist whose big-picture vision and doctoral work in South Australia has contributed significantly to the international growth of a new science – occupational science. Ann’s book “An Occupational Perspective of Health” provides a rich explanation of human capacities, and how “doing, being, belonging and becoming” are central to human nature and wellbeing.
- The Canadian Model of Occupational Performance and Engagement (Polatajko, Townsend and Craik, 2007) – this is one of my favourite models for professional practice because within the Person- Occupation-Environment interaction it depicts the spirit of a person as central in understanding their occupational preferences, along with physical, cognitive and affective aspects of the person.
- Kent Hoffman – from his 30+ years as an attachment researcher, and as co-author and developer of the “Circle of Security”, Kent identifies the most important space for wellbeing as the relational space between people, and advocates for the importance of the resonance we create between us.
- Indy Johar – Indy is a UK based social innovator interested in solving the “wicked problems of the 21st century” who is inspirational in his commitment, knowledge, and contribution to positive social change at this time in our world.
- Peter Block – Peter is an American consultant and author who inspires me with his views on business stewardship, and with his advocacy for a shift in the structure of community belonging, civic engagement and accountability for a better world.
My Qualifications, Employment & Volunteering
Since completing my Bachelor of Applied Science in Occupational Therapy I have also completed postgraduate studies and achieved a Diploma and then a Master of Health Science (OT) using qualitative research design.
Over the years I’ve been employed with Commonwealth and State funded health and rehabilitation agencies in South Australia, a charitable organisation, a not-for-profit, and in the University sector. I’ve been responsible for grant funded projects in health and education sectors. In my role with Uni I’ve traveled to Singapore a couple of times to offer a short course in brain injury rehabilitation, and more recently I’ve traveled to Queensland to provide a training day in evidence based approaches to cognitive rehabilitation.
I’ve volunteered over the years with the state chapter of Occupational Therapy Australia including convening the state conference in Adelaide. And as a family we have enjoyed giving many hours of outdoor work to a bush regeneration project in the beautiful Newland Head Conservation Park in South Australia.