It's no secret that things can get pretty tough for those living in outback and rural Australia who often experience limited access to resources that many of us in suburban areas take for granted, including mental health support.
"Mental health is a significant issue across Australia, however the issue is magnified in our outback communities." Said Andy Gore, Barcaldine Region Lead and Head Yakka Coordinator. "Heartbreakingly, the highest suicide rates for under 35 year olds across Australia are in Western Queensland and suicide rates in the bush are almost three times higher than in the city."
Outback Futures was established out of response to these statistics in addition to the other aspects of health support that were in urgent demand in rural and remote Queensland. Through their commitment to integrate and collaborate with local and existing support networks within these communities, in addition to providing extra on-the-ground support, was how the connection between the two organisations (LIVIN and Outback Futures) eventuated.
Last month LIVIN was invited to be a part of the community driven event, 'The Amazing Race Mental Health Wellbeing Expo' in support of Outback Future's 'HEAD YAKKA' initiative.
"The Amazing Race Mental Health Wellbeing Expo was a great HEAD YAKKA initiative for two reasons." Said Andy. "Firstly, it brought together people from across the Barcaldine region and created a fun and positive environment for conversations about mental health and wellbeing. Secondly, it was fuelled by two passionate local police officers in the community, Nat and Tanya, who through their commitment to improving the general wellbeing of their community created the entire concept of the event and contributed to making it happen."
To compliment LIVIN's involvement in the event, our LIVIN facilitator Al Mitchell spent several days in the region meeting the community and delivering our LIVINWell Program to the local high schools and rugby club.
"When we received the invitation from the organisers of The Amazing Race Mental Health Wellbeing Expo and were informed of the region it was being hosted in, we wanted to make a positive impact and actually engage and speak with the community and not just fly in and fly out for the event." Said Casey Lyons, LIVIN CEO. "In collaboration with the team at Outback Futures, LIVIN was introduced to several high schools and a local sporting group in which we had the opportunities to deliver our LIVINWell mental health education and stigma reduction program. It just shows how much can be achieved when we all work together."
As Outback Futures continues their incredible work throughout regional and remote areas providing access to specialists, workshops, clinics, video appointments, critical incident response and community engagement we thank them for the valuable experience in LIVIN being a part of such a supportive movement. It was a privilege to be involved with another great organisation and the work they are doing and we were grateful to meet such an incredible community to share our message that It Ain't Weak To Speak.
Looking forward to our next visit!
LIVINWell at Barcaldine State School with Commando Steve, Andy Gore from Outback Futures, Al Mitchell from LIVIN with local community representatives spreading awareness on mental health.