When someone approaches you and offers you what could potentially be a completely life-changing experience, do you say yes …?
Josette Freeman did.
Josette is the longest standing contributor to SMART Recovery Australia and still, after officially retiring last year from her position as Senior National Program Coordinator and Trainer, she continues to offer her experience, knowledge, compassion and heart to the cause.
Josette is now an official Ambassador for SMART Recovery Australia and we are beyond ecstatic to still have her in our realm.
Josette started out as a trained nurse and worked at St Vincent’s Hospital in Darlinghurst in paediatric oncology and then moved on to drug and alcohol counselling. Then, she was offered a challenging but enticing opportunity and her SMART journey began. Josette has now been working with SMART Recovery for over 17 years!
When you meet Josette, you can’t help but warm to her. She’s outwardly friendly but in an extremely genuine fashion, a great conversationalist (a self-confessed ‘talker’), and is very open and honest, so there’s no question as to why she has thrived at SMART Recovery.
Josette’s history of helping people obviously put her in great stead to assist with building SMART to what it is today. When asked what has kept her engaged with not just the people but the path, the cause and the organisation for this long, she explains it by saying, “I believe in the program. It’s evolved, it’s never been boring because it’s always changing. I wanted to see things come to fruition.”
Not only has she been extremely involved in the making of SMART Recovery Australia, but she has also been paramount in acquiring financial assistance that has enabled the growth of the group meeting offerings from 37 in the initial days to around 350 pre-COVID, subsequent online options, plus ‘Family & Friends’ and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander support. Hard work, perseverance, patience and grit was required but Josette states that, “We all believed in the cause and we didn’t want to see it fail.”
When asked what Josette is personally proud of through her journey, she emphatically professes that it was, “My drive to make it happen and not being afraid to talk to people because the worst they can say is no or shut up, or they might actually listen to you. You have to aspire to what you want to do.”
Looking forward, Josette plans to continue with her initial dedication from when she first started. She wants to see the organisation continually grow and change. Josette appreciates the focus on harm minimisation and the fact that SMART Recovery allows people to open up about all their addictions, not just drugs and alcohol but gambling, sex, eating, technology and so on. “What I love about the program is that it is so simple … It really is all up to you, what you choose and then the possible consequences.”
In her new role, Josette aims to promote SMART and let people know what it is and how it can benefit individuals and the community. “I’m hoping to spread the word about SMART Recovery and meet people that we haven’t yet connected with.”
“I’m excited about this new role because I believe that SMART Recovery has so much to offer now and also in the future. I think it’s exciting to be on that journey of people knowing more about it. I believe it can benefit so many people and has helped so many people already.”
If you ever have the pleasure of having a cuppa with Josette, soak it in because she is wise beyond her years and really great company!