Buttery staff can often be overheard talking in awe about the achievements of Kaiden Powell – the 2015 Therapeutic Community resident-turned-mentor, artist and athlete.

At 25, Kaiden Powell was in and out of out of mental health units or sleeping rough. He had attempted to take his own life and when doctors took a scan of Kaiden’s brain, it revealed he’d had a stroke which they believed was drug-induced.

It was around this time that Kaiden connected with Buttery worker Paul Phillips at Headspace, where he was encouraged to try rehab.

“I was using cannabis, binging on alcohol and taking ice recreationally – whatever I could get my hands on.

“I had a supportive family but there were times when I was sleeping in parks and behind bins. When I did find housing I had nothing left after rent. As soon as I got paid all my money went on my using. I was cooking and eating 2 Minute Noodles out of the kitchen sink. When you are in that space – deep depression – you just don’t have the self-worth to look after yourself.”

While waiting to get into rehab in Sydney, Kaiden found himself in trouble with the law, and in February 2015, got a Magistrates Early Referral Into Treatment (MERIT) placement at The Buttery.

“The beauty of The Buttery was that it provided a safe place where I could talk about what was going on. Previously, I couldn’t talk about my emotions because that’s what men aren’t supposed to do.”

For Kaiden, a proud Wiradjuri man, group therapy made sense.

“My ancestors have been sitting in a circle and yarning for thousands of years.

I learnt quickly how to live in a world with a different range of people and personalities.”

After completing the full nine-month residential program, Kaiden lived in a Buttery Transition house. Since, he has launched a rich and varied career as a counsellor, touring speaker, artist and sportsman.

Kaiden used his lived experience as a counsellor at Namatjira Haven Drug & Alcohol Healing Centre before launching his own business touring schools and universities, where he is invited to share his inspirational story of adversity and recovery.

Kaiden has also toured internationally with the National Indigenous Soccer team.

“Art is another way I share my lived experience. I have a line of streetwear which brings indigenous art into mainstream fashion. I’ve collaborated to design the very first aboriginal motocross jumpsuit.

“Now I am in talks with an agent to write a book about my story.

“I want to be able to give back and help people identify the beauty we all have within us.”