For this week’s Facilitator Q&A, we’re getting to know Peter Mills from our Friday afternoon group in Kogarah. Peter’s dedication to SMART Recovery Australia and his participants has remained strong over his four years running a SMART Recovery group.

Please tell us about yourself. What you’re interested in, what motivates you, and what you like to do with your time.
I’m very interested in personal fitness. At my age, fifty-seven, that means hitting the gym every morning for ninety minutes, seven days a week. I mostly do cardio and some weights. I mind my diet and get a big of extra exercise during the day by walking. In summer,  I could spend anywhere up to 5 hours at the beach, swimming, snorkelling, and exploring around the rocks at low tide.

I really like sci-fi and have many DVDs, including every Star Wars & Star Trek movie. I have soft copies of every Star Trek TV series, and many other sci-fi TV shows & movies. I also like action, thrillers… anything with explosions, all mixed with some comedy.

I’m into some gardening, and I’ve enjoyed a long association with PCs since before Windows and Apple iMacs for the last 8 years too.

I study online courses through, and have been studying at TAFE on and off for over twenty years. The last thing I studied was a cert IV in Alcohol & Other Drugs that I complete in 2014, a year after beginning as a facilitator. I’ve also done some courses in Mental Health and Dementia Care.

What inspired you to get involved with SMART Recovery Australia?
I was a client of SMART at St George Hospital’s Drug & Alcohol unit before and after my current period of sobriety began. SMART Recovery Australia made the vital difference between continued recovery and relapse. I had already been an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting secretary, so the opportunity to start a SMART group was compelling.

What is your favourite thing about running your group?
The appreciation I get from my people. They really enjoy my relaxed style. I’m not working for anyone, and I’m not looking down my nose at them. I’m their peer, and they know it.

Running SMART Recovery groups can, at times, be challenging. What challenges have you faced, if any, and how did you tackle them?
I learned about assertive communication during some of my many TAFE courses, and about ethical practices during the Cert IV AOD course. The main thing I learned was about how to take care of myself by not getting too friendly with anyone, or becoming personally invested in anyone’s recovery.

One guy tried to bribe me to sign his form so he could leave. When his Probation Officer rang me, I told her the truth. He didn’t return.

What’s your best story, about SMART Recovery Australia, or about anything else?
I have had several participants over my 4 years who have been in long term “battles” with FaCS to get their children back. With my help, they’ve jumped through enough hoops to get there!

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