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Mental Health First Aid Training possible thanks to ‘Hand to the Land’ Fundraiser

By March 26, 2024No Comments
CEF Board Directors Katie Walker, Nick Burton Taylor, Julia Burton Taylor and Peita Burton Taylor at the 'Hand to the Land' fundraiser in Sydney on Saturday 16th March.

CEF Board Directors Katie Walker, Nick Burton Taylor, Julia Burton Taylor and Peita Burton Taylor.

Victoria Walker knows all too well the devastating impact mental health challenges can have in rural communities.

Jessica Walker, who tragically lost her life in 2003.

Jessica Walker, who tragically lost her life in 2003.

Ms Walker, the daughter of CEF Board Director, Katie Walker, lost her sister, Jessica, to suicide in 2003, near the family’s hometown of Yass, NSW.

Twenty years on, current statistics reveal that mental health challenges are likely to affect every individual in Australia, either directly or indirectly at some point in their life, and regional Australia is disproportionately affected.

ABS statistics state 38.8% of Australian people aged 16-24 years have had a 12-month mental health disorder.

According to Mental Health First Aid Australia, mental health first aid training can provide people with the skills to provide early intervention and support to someone experiencing mental health issues, which can reduce its impact.

Ms Walker wanted to take action, and, along with Jennifer McCloy, Charlotte Boyer, Bonnie Ashton and CEF Board Director Peita Burton Taylor, created the ‘Hand to the Land’ fundraising campaign to raise funds for CEF.

Incredibly, around $200,000 was raised at the fundraising dinner held in Sydney on Saturday, 16th March 2024, with around 400 guests turning out to support the cause.

A painting by Jessica Walker, which was sold at the auction at 'Hand to the Land'.

A painting by Jessica Walker, which was sold at the auction at 'Hand to the Land'.

Funds were raised through ticket sales, auction bids, raffles and personal donations.

CEF will use the funds to offer mental health first aid training to its national network of volunteers and students, through courses delivered by Mental Health First Aid Australia.

It will also work towards establishing a scholarship named in Jessica Walker’s honour to offer to students studying and working in mental health.

Ms Walker said the event was organised to help educate people in rural and regional areas on mental health to empower them to support others around them.

Often family and colleagues are the first to recognise or respond to developing mental health challenges and don’t have the necessary toolkit to address them. ‘Hand to the Land’ aims to provide these tools to as many people as possible.

– Victoria Walker

“When thinking about how to help, I wanted to be practical, so I thought about how we can efficiently utilise an existing strong community network, and CEF came to mind.”

“To upskill any interested members and to increase their mental health education and awareness may help them to recognise something in themselves that they are experiencing or in others. Having a bit more awareness and understanding is a huge first step in supporting our communities.”

Photos from the 'Hand to the Land' fundraising dinner in Sydney on Saturday 16th March 2024.

CEF Chair, Nick Burton Taylor AM, who spoke at the fundraising dinner, said CEF was committed to providing support beyond grants and scholarships.

“We are committed to offering student support beyond the financial, which includes mentoring and at times pastoral care at both the local and national levels. We currently have a mental health program in place that provides students with access to resources and professional support if required,” he said.

In using the funds raised for CEF, our vision is that a minimum of one volunteer in each of our 46 communities will have the requisite skills and confidence to assist their students in time of need.

– CEF Chair Nick Burton Taylor AM

Since the fundraising dinner, a video about ‘Hand to the Land’ and the story of the Walker family has been circulated and viewed around 100,000 times, and Ms Walker said this had kept the donations coming in.

View the video now.

Lifeline and Beyond Blue are equipped and available to provide support to all Australians, no matter the nature of their distress.

Beyond Blue Support Service: 1300 22 4636 or beyondblue.org.au/getsupport

Lifeline: 131144

Joshua Matic

Author Joshua Matic

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