Each week Rachel Moore is on the hunt to find out what makes Canberra special to all the wonderful folks who live here.
Simon Viereck hails originally from Denmark, but we won’t hold it against him as the proud father of two celebrates a decade in the Territory. During this time both Simon and his family have dedicated their time to supporting the Canberra community to thrive.
This Executive has been a reluctant addition to this series as he would rather tell you about the amazing work the entire team at the Mental Health Community Coalition is doing, debate gently the service gaps in local and national community services delving into energetic solution focused outcomes or cracking himself up as he tells you about the latest First Dog on the Moon cartoon he has read.
To this day, no one is quite sure why he adorns his sandwich with peanut butter and lettuce (must be a Danish thing) but Simon regularly has little time to eat and is often seen racing out the door of the Griffin Centre, sandwich in hand, acting as a voice between mental health service providers and the ACT Government. Simon and his team work tirelessly to ensure service providers working with people with a lived experience of mental illness have everything they need to do their job.
Long before the Hipsters moved into Braddon, Simon has appreciated the best coffee (enjoying at least two coffee plungers daily) and just about tried to organise a local public holiday celebrating international bread when more and more Sourdough options hit the Capital’s streets.
The people Simon calls ‘hero’ are not what most would associate with the word. Simon respects, values and admires all the fabulous folks he works with who live with mental illness, the workers and families that care for them and individuals working tirelessly in Canberra to support the most vulnerable members of our society.
They say behind every good man is a wonderful woman, in Simon’s case, there is a minimum of three. Simon’s family mean everything to him and the entire family volunteer their time on a regular basis supporting various social justice causes.
Simon is a quiet, reflective and passionate advocate who could have done a million things in this world, but it is the ACT that has benefited from this benevolent giant. Thanks Simon.
Name – Simon Viereck.
Age – 39.
Occupation – Executive Officer, MHCC ACT (Mental Health Community Coalition of the ACT).
How long have you lived in Canberra – 10 years.
North, South or Q-town – We’ve just moved to the Northside after 10 years in Weston Creek. Surprisingly it isn’t actually bad at all!
Most memorable event attended in the ACT – Standing among the crowds on the Parliament House lawns during the Apology was tremendously moving. It is a real shame so little has happened to follow up on what was a significant moment in Australian history.
Things you love about Da Berra – It’s got everything you would like from a city, but without the crowds! You wouldn’t normally get cultural institutions like ours in a city where you can hardly walk down any street without meeting someone you know. I also love the parks and open spaces in and between suburbs. Visitors are always amazed that you can drive off into the country-side and five minutes later arrive at another suburb.
What you loathe about the city – The poverty on display every day in one of the richest cities on the planet makes me sad. People don’t seem to get that the high average incomes also lead to a high cost of living, which means the poor are even worse off than most places.
Most cherished memory in the capital – That’s got to be our Australian wedding. We married in Denmark before coming here, but had another ceremony here for the Aussie family and friends. My father-in-law memorably declared us “even more married than usual”.
Which Canberra local do you most admire and why – There are so many awesome people in Canberra. One that springs to mind now is Sue Salthouse. After acquiring a significant disability in the middle of life, she didn’t give up or succumb to feeling sorry for herself, but instead threw herself into disability leadership and advocacy, becoming a leading disability, women’s rights and social justice campaigner and eventually 2015 Canberra Citizen of the Year. Sue is one of those inspirational people who turn adversity into opportunity. One of the benefits of my job is the opportunity to meet lots of people who live full and contributing lives in their own way despite serious illness, adversity or disability.
Most precious item you own – I try not to get too attached to things. The paintings and presents my children have made for me are most precious because of the memories attached to them.
First Canberra kiss and where – Not the first, but perhaps the most memorable would be at the end of our wedding ceremony.
Most delicious Berra place you adore eating at – I like The Copper Chimney. I can’t tell whether it is the best Indian restaurant in town, but they are really friendly and the chicken chettinad is just delicious.
What do you want to be when you grow up – No idea! But I would like to leave a legacy of having made a positive difference for people living with disadvantage.
Your social media handles – @MHCC ACT
What is a question you would like to ask everyone in Canberra – What did you do to look after your mental health today?