2018 Essay winner – Natalie Fitzgerald

Winner of Essay Award, Natalie Fitzgerald with Sponsor Recon Jobs (resized)

The winner of the 2018 SCA (NSW) CHU Strata Community Awards essay award was Natalie Fitzgerald, Managing Partner, Strata Sense, for her eye opening piece about mental health in the workplace. Specifically, the high rate of burn out amongst strata managers and what can be done to mitigate the risk and reduce the stigma surrounding asking for help.

Natalie wrote beautifully and honestly about a subject that affects many yet is still not a day-to-day topic of conversation, both within the strata sector and in the broader community. Burn out has been commonly accepted as a part of being a strata manager but Natalie’s essay asks why that should be the case and hopefully it will help spark some conversations in the sector about what can and should be done to ensure the mental wellbeing of strata managers.

Natalie herself has not been untouched by burn out related to her role.

“I decided a few years ago to be open about my own mental health diagnosis, to start conversations, and hopefully remove stigma.”

As we all now know, removing shame and fear in discussions about mental health is key and by doing so it will move to help reduce complete burn out in the industry as it is, and has been, exacerbated by the feeling that it cannot be discussed openly.

Natalie has already seen some change in the strata sector and is looking forward to helping effect more change throughout.

“I am seeing and hearing conversations at a high level within the sector – which I am hopeful are flowing down into workplaces. All change starts with open conversations and education and I’m just so happy that by sharing my own experiences it is encouraging others to do the same. I want people to know that having a mental health issue, be it temporary or a lifetime diagnosis, does not mean that you cannot be successful.”

As the NSW winner of the award, Natalie’s essay is an automatic entrant in the upcoming National awards and she couldn’t be more thrilled.

“This the best bonus of the whole experience. Obviously strata manager burn out is not contained to NSW so extending the conversation nationally is such an exciting opportunity.”