‘Eat Dirt’ a program aimed at connecting students to Country, nature and each other is coming to an end for 2022 and to celebrate the group from Bellingen High School headed out to Hungry Head Beach in Urunga to hear some stories from Uncle Micklo and swim in the ocean under the watchful eyes of five lifeguards from Hungry Head Surf Life Saving. It’s not often you get the beach to yourselves with your own personal water safety crew!
Despite the rain and less than ideal conditions the group had an absolute ball, playing soccer, cricket and footy on the beach, finishing off with hot chips and scallops and a spot of fishing.
Every Thursday since April the group has come together to undertake bush regeneration, creek clean-ups, propagation, primal games, growing vegetables, nature journalling and art activities at Bellingen High. Other activities have included chainsaw maintenance, jiu jitzu, learning about SMEAC briefings and fire-fighting, painting murals, yoga and trying to catch the elusive koi carp that have been released into the local creek.
We have also put on a Night for the Folks with Tomorrow Man, Tomorrow Woman and contributed to the school’s wellbeing day by funding a tie dye workshop and One Mob Radio and purchased some branded marquees for use at sporting and community events. It was great to see them being used to provide shade for locals who had gathered in Bellingen town for a memorial for Gillian Helfgott, acclaimed astrologer and wife of the amazing pianist David Helfgott.
Project Manager, Melanie Tyas said: “The aim of the project was to connect our students to nature, Country, each other and place and we are well on the way to achieving that goal. We now have a couple of students who would like to pursue a career in bush regeneration and a conversation with the lifeguards yesterday has planted the seed for a new bush regen group forming to remove the weeds from the littoral rainforest at the back of Hungry Head Beach.
“Uncle Micklo’s weekly stories have connected us to Country and by getting our hands in the soil, whether it be by planting vegies or removing weeds, and spending every Thursday out of the classroom we have connected to nature. Working as a team in sporting events such as Captain and Tunnel Ball, and force ‘em backs has cemented friendships with both mentors and mentees alike and as we heal the land we heal ourselves.
“A huge thank you to Resilience NSW for providing the funding to make this possible, to Bellingen High for embracing the program and to our partners Surf Life Saving NSW and Gotcha4Life. This is just the beginning of our journey to transform education,” said Melanie.
Funding for this pilot program has been made possible with a grant from the NSW Government’s Bushfire Community Recovery and Resilience Fund and is a partnership project with Gotcha4Life, Surf Life Saving NSW, Bellingen High School and the local community.
A new $290,000 program to build community resilience will be delivered at Bellingen High School thanks to funding from the NSW Government’s Bushfire Community Recovery and Resilience Fund.
Landcare NSW, Gotcha4Life and Surf Life Saving NSW (SLSNSW) have partnered to deliver the program with the aim of zero suicides by looking at all elements of resilience in communities where people are mentally and physically fit, connected to country, to nature and to each other.
Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience and Minister for Flood Recovery Steph Cooke said the recovery process in the wake of a natural disaster requires collaboration between communities, organisations and Government.
“The NSW Government’s Bushfire Community Recovery and Resilience Fund was designed to support social and emotional wellbeing, and I’m delighted that this new alliance between SLSNSW, Landcare NSW and Gotcha4Life will do exactly that,” Ms Cooke said.
Member for Oxley Melinda Pavey said the $290,000 program would focus on younger people who experienced significant disruptions during the Black Summer bush fires.
“One day each week, a class at Bellingen High School will take place outside where the students help with habitat restoration, spend time with nature and connect with one another,” Mrs Pavey said.
Chair of Landcare NSW Stephanie Cameron said whilst this project is targeted to bush fire recovery regions, the aim is to create connected and resilient communities.
“A resilient community is one that can withstand and bounce back from natural disasters. With changing climates, more extreme droughts, bush fires and adverse weather events, we need to support resilience now more than ever,” Ms Cameron said.
“Resilience isn’t just about surviving fire. Resilience is the ability to face all types of adversity and have the tools to look after ourselves and those around us. This project aims to do exactly that to support Bellingen High School and the wider community.”
The majority of the project is working with Bellingen High School on a pilot which sees students educated outside, in nature, using the available resources to teach across the curriculum.
Founder of Gotcha4Life Gus Worland said this partnership would be a game-changer.
“This partnership aims to tackle a myriad of issues that contribute to poor mental health, poor educational outcomes and communities that are not resilient. By strengthening connections to community and to country and by embedding the curriculum in nature, this partnership will lead to support communities with the ability to withstand the challenges that we all face due to the environmental changes,” Mr Worland said.
“Our vision at Gotcha4Life is to take action to end suicide by delivering community-based mental fitness programs that give people the tools to deal with challenges at every age and stage of life. To encourage people to be open, honest and supportive in their relationships and comfortable expressing themselves when they are not OK. To give people the skills to speak more openly about their feelings and experiences, encouraging people to identify someone in their life they can talk to when things get tough.
“The vision of this partnership is that no one worries alone and teaches people about how to build and maintain healthy well-being and feel more connected to their community and country.
“The past couple of years have been devastating for so many rural and regional communities so we’re working together to help provide support where it is needed most.”
Bellingen High School Acting Principal Tim Laverty said the benefits of this program will be far-reaching for the students.
“We need our students to become empowered, energised and contributors to the community. This program will give our children the tools to work on their resilience, to improve educational outcomes, the health of our environment and promote reconciliation,” Mr Laverty said.
SLSNSW Chief Operating Officer Daniel Gaffney said SLSNSW was excited to join forces with Landcare NSW and Gotcha4Life.
“Our organisation plays a powerful role in protecting life, whether it be by saving people on our beaches or through saving them from poor mental health by building resilience and fostering healthy, connected communities. In addition to running traditional First Aid courses, we also run Mental Health First Aid courses to ensure we are all looking after the mental health of ourselves, friends and family,” Mr Gaffney said.
In addition to the program being delivered in schools, other elements of the project include:
Gotcha4Life will runs a series of workshops in the community and the local school, with representatives from Landcare and SLSNSW;
All workshops will start with a Welcome to Country to provide a connection to the local Aboriginal People and to Country;
The local Landcare group will partner with the school to provide on-site education, including propagation, planting, weeding, growing vegetables nest box building etc. This will give the students an opportunity to get their hands in the dirt and benefit from the bacteria that raises serotonin levels; and
SLSNSW will also provide mental health first aid training to those who want to learn more.
Funding for this pilot program has been provided by Resilience NSW through the Bushfire Community Recovery and Resilience Fund.
About Landcare NSW
Landcare NSW’s mission is to care for the land and the environment. The Landcare movement is a community-based approach to managing and protecting our natural resources – creating more productive and sustainable farms, conserving our environment, and building more cohesive and resilient communities. Landcare connects you to on-ground activities where you can volunteer with like-minded individuals who have a passion for caring for country.
About Gotcha4Life Gotcha4Life is a not-for-profit foundation taking action to end suicide by delivering community-based mental fitness programs that give people the tools to deal with challenges at every age and stage of life. Our programs run in schools, sporting clubs, community groups and corporations with the purpose of giving people the skills to speak more openly about their feelings and experience. To encourage people to identify someone in their life they can talk to when things get tough, and teach people how to build and maintain their mental fitness. We offer a range of programs suited to teenagers, teachers, parents, as well as people in the wider community. The ultimate purpose? To equip people with the skills needed to maintain a better level of mental fitness so that they don’t reach the point of suicide. We’re all about early intervention to teach people how to connect, who to connect with and why it’s important to connect. We want everyone to have a Gotcha4Life Mate – a go-to person you can rely on and talk to about anything when times are tough, so no one has to worry alone. Gotcha4Life was established as a not-for-profit foundation by media personality Gus Worland in 2017.
While the role of the surf lifesaver is to be a first responder, Surf Life Saving also plays a powerful role in protecting life, whether it be by saving people on our beaches or through saving them from poor mental health by building resilience and fostering healthy, connected communities. In addition to running traditional First Aid courses, SLSNSW also runs Mental Health First Aid courses in areas that are not covered by RAMHP. SLSNSW clubs are also used as emergency evacuation points during natural disasters and for workshops held by Landcare NSW, Gotcha4Life and other community organisations.
Why the Coalition and what does it aim to achieve?
Our Vision: zero suicide in the towns where the program is rolled out. The vision and beliefs of the organisations involved are closely aligned. Building emotional, physical, social, and community muscle – to protect against poor mental fitness – is the glue that binds the partnership. Investing in this relationship and harnessing the extensive networks across the partners means thousands of people in NSW will be able to access and benefit from the connections this partnership brings.
How seriously do you take your mental health and is it the same as looking after any other part of your body? This is a question that Gotcha4Life Chairman and Founder, Gus Worland, asks communities.
After experiencing first-hand the devastating impacts of mental illness in his own personal journey, Gus has made it his life mission to support communities’ mental fitness and ability to support and address issues related to mental illness.
“Our vision at Gotcha4Life is a world where people are open, honest and supportive in their relationships and comfortable to express themselves when they are not OK. We envisage a society in which everyone has a Gotcha4Life mate who they can open up to, warts and all and rely on no matter what.
“Our partnership with Landcare NSW will help create and facilitate these conversations. The past couple of years have been devastating for so many rural and regional communities so we’re working with Landcare NSW to help provide support where it is needed most,” said Gus Worland.
Central West Lachlan Landcare Coordinator and Central West Regional Representative, Marg Applebee said she looks forward to facilitating workshops and events in the Parkes region.
“Gus is so fantastic at engaging with the community and it was such a pleasure to have him and his wife (and Co-Founder) Vicky come to Parkes. They are such great people and really work with you to build a strong mental health network and help establish strategies to support your community.
“The Gotcha4Life team are working towards the goal of zero suicides and focus on prevention through connection. The fact that they are doing this without Government funding and are working with people and partners such as Landcare NSW really shows their willingness to go anywhere to help raise awareness of the importance of working on your mental health, as you would your physical health,” says Marg Applebee.
Landcare NSW has been working in collaboration with Gotcha4Life to develop a support network for local Landcare communities to have access to the services Gotcha4Life provides. Most recently, Landcare NSW has formed a coalition with the Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMPH).
“After an initial partnership with Gotcha4Life, Landcare NSW has also built a further partnership with RAMPH and Surf Life Saving NSW to ensure that all Landcare NSW communities have the opportunity to build their mental fitness and have access to the support they need,” says Landcare NSW CEO, Dr Adrian Zammit.
“The past 18 months have been devastating for our communities. Both adults and children are dealing with so many mental health challenges, which has only been exacerbated by drought, bushfires and COVID-19 so by building support networks we hope to successfully make a difference to everyone. No matter their age.”
An exciting new collaboration between Gotcha4Life, Landcare NSW, the Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP) and Surf Lifesaving NSW has led to the opportunity to bring new programs to the Parkes and Forbes Shires with a focus on building mental fitness.
The four organisations saw the opportunity to work together in regional, rural and coastal areas in NSW by delivering workshops and training focussed on the concept of ‘prevention through connection’.
Forbes Shire Mayor, Cr Phyllis Miller and Parkes Shire Mayor, Cr Ken Keith OAM have expressed the support of both Councils for the outlay of programs. After several years of drought and then COVID-19, now is the time to continue working on these important aspects of our community health.
Gotcha4Life is a not-for-profit foundation dedicated to connecting corporate Australia, government, community and NFP to help prevent and reduce instances of poor mental health in Australia. CEO Tim Hodgson said, ‘We are so excited to work alongside such powerful and purpose-driven organisations, who have local reach into communities across NSW, enabling us to build mental fitness with local relevance and sustainable impact.”
Founder of Gotcha4Life and television and radio personality, Gus Worland said: “Our vision at Gotcha4Life is a world where people are open, honest and supportive in their relationships and comfortable to express themselves when they are not ok. We envisage a society in which everyone has a Gotcha4Life mate who they can open up to and rely on no matter what.
“This collaboration will be vital to help engage people across NSW who are battling with the effects of drought, fire and COVID-19,” said Gus.
Marg Applebee, Coordinator for Central West Lachlan Landcare, and Di Gill, RAHMHP Consultant are pleased to be working with Gotcha4Life to help activate these programs the Parkes and Forbes shires.
Dr Adrian Zammit, Chief Executive Officer at Landcare NSW says, “While Landcare NSW’s mission is to continue to care for the land and environment, it is founded on a series of close-knit communities that we need to support. With over 70 Local Coordinators supported by their own local Landcare groups across NSW, we have the opportunity to assist with facilitation of this important program across the State.
The value we all gain from investing in these relationships and harnessing Landcare NSW’s extensive network means thousands of members across NSW will be able to have access to the mental fitness programs and powerful messaging that Gotcha4Life can bring.”
The Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP) currently has 20 Coordinators who live and work across NSW who connect people to local services and information.
RAMHP Manager Tessa Caton said continuing to find new ways of building mental fitness and capacity in rural communities was absolutely essential after the challenges 2020 has brought.
“RAMHP will provide the advice that only a ‘local’ knows about each rural community and where to get help for your mental health. Our extensive range of rural mental health education sessions will complement the inspiring workshops powered by Gotcha4Life that redefine masculinity and femininity.
“We are looking forward to working with Gotcha4Life, Landcare NSW and Surf Lifesaving NSW to ensure our rural communities have access to a full suite of mental fitness programs and are equipped with the skills and tools to cope with ongoing challenges,” Tessa said.
Whilst Surf Life Saving NSW isn’t an organisation that we rely on day to day in the country, they are an important link in this partnership bring the hub of many coastal communities and are well-placed to provide practical support for initiatives and programs on the ground.
People across regional NSW will benefit from mental health and wellbeing workshops focused on ‘prevention through connection’, thanks to a four-way collaboration between the NSW Government funded Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP) and Gotcha4Life, Landcare NSW and Surf Life Saving NSW.
Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor said the partnership would bring together a wealth of experience and knowledge to provide support for regional communities who were facing ongoing challenges.
“It continues to be a really tough time, especially for people living with the triple challenge of drought, bushfire and the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mrs. Taylor.
“It is completely normal for people to be having confronting thoughts and feelings, and this is about making sure that people have strong connections in the community and know where to go to for specialist help when the going gets really tough.”
“Each of the partners has a good understanding of the unique local challenges as well as a great deal of trust within the community, which means they are well-placed to make a difference from the ground up.”
The RAMHP is a major project of the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health (CRRMH) in partnership with each of the rural NSW Health Districts, and is funded by the NSW Government. There are currently 20 RAMHP Coordinators who live and work across NSW. RAMHP works to address the short and long-term mental health needs of rural and remote communities in NSW by connecting people to the help they need.
RAMHP Program Manager Tessa Caton said continuing to find new ways of building mental fitness and capacity in rural communities was essential.
“RAMHP will provide the advice that only a ‘local’ knows about each rural community and where to get help for your mental health.”
“We are looking forward to working with Gotcha4Life, Landcare NSW and Surf Lifesaving NSW to ensure our rural communities have access to a full suite of mental fitness programs and are equipped with the skills and tools to cope with ongoing challenges,” said Ms. Caton.
Founder of Gotcha4Life and media personality Gus Worland said the not-for-profit foundation’s vision is a world where people are open, honest and supportive in their relationships and comfortable to express themselves when they are not okay.
“We envisage a society in which everyone has a Gotcha4Life mate who they can open up to, warts and all, and rely on no matter what. This collaboration will be vital to help engage people across NSW who are battling with the effects of drought, fire and COVID-19,” he said.
Dr Adrian Zammit Chief Executive Officer at Landcare NSW said that while the organisation’s mission is to continue to care for the land and environment, it is founded on a series of close-knit communities that they support.
“The value we all gain from investing in these relationships and harnessing our extensive network means thousands of members across NSW will be able to have access to the mental fitness programs and powerful messaging that Gotcha4Life can bring,” Dr. Zammit said.
Surf Life Saving NSW CEO Steven Pearce said the visions and beliefs of all the organisations are closely aligned, and the concept of building emotional muscle to protect against poor mental health really resonated.
“While the role of the surf lifesaver is to be a first responder, Surf Life Saving also plays a powerful role in protecting life, whether it be by saving people on our beaches or through saving them from poor mental health by building resilience and fostering healthy, connected communities”.
If you have any concerns about yourself or a loved one, please contact the NSW Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511 or call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Richard Shute (Dept Mental Health, Regional Youth and Women) | 0409 394 232
This summer’s events are a reminder of the scale and complexity of the challenges that we face in protecting our environment, our productive and sustainable farms, and the well-being of all our communities.
For Landcare NSW, 2020 has started at a frenetic pace with lots of key activities underway.
Landcare NSW is actively pursuing a number of partnerships and funding arrangements to benefit the Landcare community including a partnership with the Biodiversity Conservation Trust (BCT). Landcare NSW received a funding deed for $1.37 million last month which will cover the cost for rolling out a number of educational activities that will bring together people such as landowners and highlight what the BCT is offering to people on the land and in our communities.
Landcare NSW’s partnership with the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE), that was announced at the Trees in the House event in November, has been formalised with the signing of an MOU for the Greater Sydney Landcare Network to deliver the planting of 100,000 trees in the Greater Sydney region as part of the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s Five Million Trees program.
With all our partnerships, we insist that all partnership programs and projects are co-designed, co-delivered, co-managed and co-governed. All these partnership programs and projects are co-governed by Joint Management Committees made up of leaders and senior executives from the two partner organisations, similar to the one we have with Local Land Services (LLS) for the delivery of the NSW Landcare Program.
Landcare NSW signed an MOU with Saving Our Species in February to promote and raise additional funding for the program with non-government sources. Linda Bell spoke to the Landcare NSW Council at its February Council meeting.
Gotcha4Life and Landcare NSW have also entered a partnership, and an Expression of Interest has gone out to all Landcare regions to seek funding to deliver Mental Fitness Weeks in rural and regional areas across the state in 2020.
Late in 2019, Landcare NSW submitted a business case for $20 million for the delivery of activities related to disaster relief, recovery and preparedness. This was submitted at the beginning of the disaster season, since then the problem has obviously escalated significantly. I believe Landcare should be the go-to vehicle for the delivery of these kinds of services. The Chair, our Government Relations Manager and I had a meeting with Minister Adam Marshall to discuss the business case and the role Landcare can play and these discussions are ongoing.
Corporate partnerships are also an area Landcare NSW is developing and exploring as the interest in corporate volunteering in bushfire affected areas continues to increase.
A new partnership between Landcare NSW and Gotcha4Life will soon see the delivery of workshops and training in rural communities across NSW to address mental health and build mental fitness.
The partnership, announced last night in Sydney, will focus on ‘prevention through connection’.
Landcare NSW signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Gotcha4Life, a not-for-profit foundation dedicated to connecting corporate Australia, government, community and NFP to help reduce instances of poor mental health in Australia. The MoU is for Landcare NSW to assist in the delivery of Gotcha4Life programmes through the extensive Landcare networks across the state to reach a wider audience efficiently and effectively.
Landcare NSW CEO, Dr Adrian Zammit, said: “Landcare NSW is delighted to partner with Gotcha4Life and deliver these worthwhile programs using Landcare’s social capital, connection and networks across NSW. Positive mental health is something that everyone needs to work on, but in these trying times of prolonged drought and bushfires it’s particularly hard.
“Our rural and regional communities are hurting. The state is in the grips of the worst drought on record, and many farmers have not received any income from their farms for several years and the current climatic forecast suggests that there is no prospect of significant, drought-breaking, rain in the near future. For many people in our rural communities, the onset and impacts of a catastrophic bushfire season, is the last straw.
“It is incredibly important to support our rural and regional communities through this time. Across our communities we are seeing a dramatic increase for the need for support and connection and our aim is to empower communities to take effective action, build connection and reduce the incidence of suicide and the heart-breaking impact it has on our communities.
“Landcare is more than a collective movement. It is a community and for many across NSW, it is a family,” said Adrian.
Founder of Gotcha4Life and television and radio personality, Gus Worland said: “Our vision at Gotcha4Life is a world where people are open, honest and supportive in their relationships and comfortable to express themselves when they are not O.K. We envisage a society in which everyone has a Gotcha4Life mate who they can open up to, warts and all and rely on no matter what.
“We’ve set an ambitious aim to reach 500,000 people within the next five years who will be benefiting from mental fitness programs to ensure these friendships can be activated when it really counts. Our partnership with Landcare NSW will be vital to achieve this,” said Gus.
Gotcha4Life funds sustainable educational workshops, training programs and products that build mental fitness in communities across Australia to enable strong, open and binding relationships.
Over 65,000 Australians make a suicide attempt
More than eight people die each day in Australia by suicide
Suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians between 15 and 44 years of age
In 2017, about 75% of people who died by suicide were males and 25% were females