Getting the message across

An inspirational and thought-provoking address by renowned mental health advocate Wayne Schwass took place in Woodend’s Buffalo Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Schwass, a former champion AFL footballer, battled silently with depression for much of his sporting career and now heads the Puka Up organisation which plays a key role in raising awareness about mental health, emotional wellbeing and suicide prevention.
Woodend-Hesket Football Netball Club president Paul Podbury summed up proceedings by thanking Schwass and various other local lead-in speakers for their contributions to enlightening the audience, which covered a cross-section of age groups.
“We just need to look after one another,” Podbury said.
Schwass, a Gisborne resident, opened his address by stating virtually everyone was affected by mental health issues, directly or indirectly.
He reflected on the ‘Declare War on 1034′ campaign launched 49 years ago, and the flow on to the present time to reduce the nation’s road toll …. yet 3128 lives were lost to suicide in 2017.
Schwass said there were things he wanted to share and invited those present to think about what was being raised.
He spoke about gender conditioning, and why boys and men have been conditioned to be less emotional than women.
“We all have the opportunity to change the culture,” he said, advocating that individuals and families “open up” about any mental health related problems.
There was audience participation during Schwass’ address, and sustained applause at the conclusion.
Schwass and 34 other cyclists are preparing for a testing Puka Up 10-day bike ride for across much of Victoria’s countryside to further promote the means of addressing mental health issues and opening up the conversation much wider than in the past.

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