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Growing resilience and connection from the ground up Fit for life

In Australia, our Melbourne Parks and Gardens (MPG) team works in partnership with the City of Melbourne to maintain some 500 hectares of iconic sites and green spaces for millions of residents and visitors every year. 

This is tough, demanding work, so in 2019 we launched ‘Fit for Life’, our homegrown program designed to support team wellbeing and engagement holistically, applying best practice from elite sport and fitness programs.

Serco colleagues gathered in park to hear a talk from speaker in wheelchair

Neil Scott, Crew Leader, was one of our first volunteers:

“It’s helped me a lot physically and not just with my fitness. I’d suffered from severe migraines and just ignored them. Fit for Life prompted me to see a doctor who diagnosed the issue and got me the help I needed. No more migraines – I’ve Matt and Serco to thank for that.” 

Since 2019, we’ve evolved the program to cover other wellbeing dimensions and become more inclusive. More of our colleagues have been able to come together and diversify their wellbeing toolkits whilst hearing from a range of motivational guest speakers, many of whom come see us in person to share their stories.

There’s always something interesting and helpful. The people we hear from are very open and I’ve taken a lot from that. I’m more open now than I used to be, at work and at home, and that’s made a big difference for me.

Neil Scott
Crew Leader

This and our strong focus on mental health has been hugely important for Neil in his struggle to cope with the declining health of our friend and colleague, Jason, diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2021. Jason’s own experience of Fit for Life helped bring him closer to his teenage son, and as his health deteriorated, Neil stepped up to shoulder his workload. 

Natalie Mikecz, Head Gardener, Native Revegetation Sites, appreciates us making it easier for everyone to engage with their own wellbeing: 

“People don’t go looking for this kind of support, especially when they don’t know they need it. Fit for Life puts it right in front of us, without any stigma. I take loads of notes every time and it’s great to have that knowledge in your pocket when you need it.” 

Three members of staff Melbourne Parks and Gardens stood in green space with blocks of flats in backgroun

Natalie still proudly shows off her sun hat signed by legendary Australian cricketer, Merv Hughes, who came to give us his top tips for living well. It was the session from our Employee Assistance Programme provider, though, that meant the most to her:

“Some days are tougher than others, especially when work or personal stress factors heighten emotions,” says Natalie. “On that day, everything was getting the better of me and I knew it was important for me to attend that session. Everything they spoke about – stress and fatigue and energy limits – resonated deeply. It’s helped me become more confidently attentive to my own needs and self-care. It didn’t happen overnight, but that’s why the program continuity is important, giving us that reinforcement. It’s become part of who we are and what we do.” 

Dedicated to our dear friend and colleague, Jason Grant.

Matt Shorey
Contract Manager, Melbourne Parks and Gardens

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