CEO Update from Mental Health Australia: Walk the Talk

We hear you

Walk the Talk

It’s a big week for an extremely committed Geelong Cats footy club fan like me. We are heading into another AFL Grand Final and I watched the last one from Canberra two years ago during the pandemic restrictions. We have a chance to do one better this time. Go CATS!

This week we have also been reminded again that not everyone’s experience within AFL footy (in this case allegedly at Hawthorn) matches what the public policies say about inclusion and racism. This creates serious mixed emotions and very real deep disappointment and shame.

Mental Health Australia stands with our valued partner Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) and upholds Principle 7 of their Declaration that states: “Racism, stigma, environmental adversity and social disadvantage constitute ongoing stressors and have negative impacts on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ mental health and wellbeing”. Our position paper is available here.

All AFL clubs must walk the talk and do whatever it takes to ensure that what they say about a commitment to stamp out racism is matched by everyone’s lived experience.

Speaking of walking the talk, next week we will release Episode 1 of our new mini-documentary series – “Walk the Talk”. This first episode will focus on the importance of lived experience in leadership and driving change – when we acknowledge its inherent value and take time to listen and then really hear. We are grateful to those who have volunteered their time and wisdom in bringing this first episode to you. Let us know what you think!

This week I have had the great privilege of spending the day with our Embrace Multicultural Project Lived Experience Advisory Group. They came together from around Australia for training in advocacy and in “safely telling your story”, and they talked with us about their hopes and dreams for inclusion and safe services for migrants and refugees. I am always so taken by the courage and generosity of those that speak out based on their own experiences to ensure things improve for everyone.

There is hope generated through taking time to listen, believe, understand, and act on lived experience. We can only encourage the AFL and all sporting clubs to do the same.

Our First Nations sisters and brothers, and those who come from overseas to join our community are entitled to expect such understanding and removal of all obstacles to full and safe inclusion.

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