On 14 November, war veteran Michael Ward will walk the final steps of his 723 kilometre walk from Adelaide to Melbourne as he raises $50,000 for youth mental health. As he completes the month-long walk he will be welcomed by The Honourable Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health and youth mental health and suicide prevention organisation, Mind Blank.
The distance would take around eight hours to travel in a car, and the trek is not only lengthy, but includes outback shrubbery, windy highways, and exposure to the elements. To put this into context, Michael Ward will be walking the width of Poland, and then some.
The Honourable Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health said, “Far too many families and communities are affected by suicide every year. Every single loss of life is an immense tragedy. That's why the work of organisations such as Mind Blank is so important. We must continue to find new ways to support people at risk. I want to thank Michael for his tremendous work to raise awareness and promote suicide prevention.”
Michael experienced the tragedy of youth suicide when his 21-year old brother ended his life in 2005, and has committed to raise awareness of the support available to young people, along with the goal of raising $50,000 for Mind Blank.
“My brother died by suicide while serving in the Royal Marines, and my family and I have never been the same since that horrible day. I don’t want anyone to experience the grief of losing a loved one to suicide, and I have taken on the challenge of this trek so that more young people can learn about the support available.
“We should seek help from others when we feel down or vulnerable, and education about this issue is important so that young people know how to look out for one another and can tell an adult if they are worried about a friend hurting themselves.”
The Australian Bureau of Statistics data from 2016 shows that suicide is still the leading cause of death for young people aged between 14-25 years.
Ally Kelly, CEO of Mind Blank, explained, “Every three hours in Australia, someone dies by suicide, and every three hours, 15 more 12-17 year olds make a suicide attempt. It is incredibly concerning that only one in three young people struggling with their mental health and emotional problems will utilise mental health services, and this statistic urgently needs to change.
“Australia’s young people need help to reduce the risk of suicide by increasing early identification of warning signs and advocating positive mental wellbeing practices. We are grateful for the awareness and funds that are being generated as result of Michael Ward’s incredible walk, and know it will make a vital difference.”
Mind Blank runs innovative education programs in schools across Australia. The organisation’s interactive performance-based school programs enhance young people’s knowledge about mental health issues and inform young people so they know where to seek support.
Details of Michael Ward’s walk:
- Started his trek on 30th October in Adelaide
- 723 kilometre walk from Adelaide to Melbourne
- Arrive in Melbourne 1pm 14 November 2017
- Michael Ward served in the Royal Air Force for 18 years, as a logistics specialist and reached the rank of Corporal.
Media and photographers are welcome to attend the ceremony when The Honourable Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health, and Mind Blank will congratulate Michael Ward on completing the journey and for his contribution to youth mental health.
Details of the ceremony:
Location - Origin Energy 321 Exhibition St, Melbourne VIC 3000
- 12:45-1pm Guard of Honour
- 1pm Michael arrives, formal proceedings commence including words from Ally Kelly, CEO of Mind Blank, and The Honourable Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health. Minister Hunt will present Michael Ward with a plaque.
- 1:30pm finish
Further information about his campaign can be found here:
Follow the journey online:
Mind Blank is a not-for-profit organisation that generates awareness regarding youth mental health through innovative education programs in schools, workplaces and community groups across Australia, including interactive theatre programs. The charity aims to help reduce the risk of suicide by increasing early identification of warning signs, advocating positive mental wellbeing practices and increasing resilience to help young people understand and cope with adversity.