Fabian finds meaning in mental health

Fabian Fernando was working as a professional cricketer when he decided to take up further study in the mental health space. He never looked back.

In his home country of Sri Lanka, Fabian Fernando was a professional cricket player.
When an opportunity to come to Australia arose through a sponsorship with Northcote United Cricket Club, Fabian went for it.

After several months of playing cricket for Northcote, he knew he wanted to extend his stay in Australia, so Fabian decided to throw himself into study.

In Sri Lanka, he had worked as an accountant for a financial institution, but he decided to do something completely left of field.

“I wanted to study mental health, which is not spoken about much in Sri Lanka,” Fabian says.

Fabian enrolled in Chisholm’s Bachelor of Community Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drugs.

“From day one, it was fantastic,” says Fabian.

“The teachers were very supportive. Every time I needed extensions, they understood where it came from. Every time I needed other materials or subject help, they were there.”

Fabian says the thing he enjoyed most about studying at Chisholm was the diversity in the student cohort.

“There were students from Sri Lanka, Nepal, India and Africa… all over,” he says.

“I enjoyed getting to understand their point of view.”

Fabian jumped at every opportunity thrown at him and absolutely thrived at Chisholm.

For his outstanding academic performance, he was nominated as Higher Education Student of the Year in the 2023 Chisholm Education Awards.

He also received a scholarship through the Caroline Chisholm Education Foundation to help cover the cost of his study.

In Fabian’s final year, he did placement with CRAMLI Psychological and Behavioural Services, an organisation providing therapeutic and evidence-based interventions to those affected by severe psychological and behavioural issues.

They ended up offering him a job and nowadays, Fabian works as a behaviour practitioner.

On a typical day, he meets with a range of clients aged 10 to 50 years old, many of whom are offenders or young people with behaviours of concern.

Fabian uses the skills he picked up through Chisholm to help them work through their issues.                       

“The work is rewarding but sensitive as well,” he says.

“If they’re not happy with what’s going on, they might escalate. It’s always good to have the chance to help people.”

Fabian still plays professional cricket with Northcote United and helps coach the under 18s team voluntarily. He is proud to be able to support his younger brother and sister in Sri Lanka and pay for their education.

Fabian’s dream is to one day merge his two passions: sport and mental health.

“Initially I started this course so that I could relate it to my cricket field and help cricketers with their mental health and issues,” he says.

“After diving into this, I reckon there are many more people in need.

“I want to start my own behaviour support team so that I can work with more clients, meanwhile implementing exercising and sports strategies.”

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