09 April 2020
“Stand together” is the message from 21 athletes who 12 months ago began a life-changing program that sought to inspire those struggling with mental illness by sharing their own personal stories.
Athletes from across 13 national sporting organisations came together to establish the Lifeline Community Custodian program, a joint initiative by the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) and Lifeline Australia to raise awareness of suicide prevention and reduce the stigma attached to mental illness.
The Lifeline Community Custodians assisted Lifeline to raise just over $2 million through more than 50 engagements across Australia, where they were able to help in excess of 35,000 people directly and indirectly.
World Cup gold medallist snowboard cross athlete, Belle Brockhoff said she couldn’t be prouder to have worked with Lifeline over the past year - day in and day out, Lifeline volunteers go above and beyond to ensure our communities have the best possible support.
“To be able to contribute to their work has been incredibly meaningful and I hope that what we achieved goes a long way in changing attitudes around mental health,” Brockhoff said.
With a new cohort of custodians to be announced in the coming weeks, Brockhoff believes the program will be critical in 2020 and beyond as society deals with the impacts of COVID-19.
“Now, more than ever, we need to stand together. The challenges we face are unprecedented but if we support one another, we will come out of this a stronger and more resilient nation.”
Lifeline Australia Chief Executive Officer Colin Seery said it was a tremendous experience for Lifeline to have the opportunity to work with the athletes.
“Over the last year, they have significantly contributed to our community events and fundraising activities as well as sharing their support for Lifeline and taking every opportunity to break stigma around mental health through their social media channels,” Seery said.
“We are delighted with the achievements of the Lifeline Community Custodians to date and look forward to partnering with the AIS to continue this work well into the future.”
AIS Director of Athlete Wellbeing and Engagement, Matti Clements said the Custodians are all passionate about giving back and spreading messages of positivity and hope to the community.
“It has been a privilege to see these custodians bring light back into the lives of thousands, while also seeing the athletes themselves strengthen their own sense of self,” Clements said.
“I want to thank our Custodians and Lifeline for their help in establishing this program, through your commitment we have been able to change lives and reduce the stigma attached to mental illness.”
2019-20 Lifeline Community Custodians
Jenna O'Hea (Basketball Australia, Melbourne)
Anabelle Smith (Diving Australia, Victorian Institute of Sport, Melbourne)
Angie Ballard (Athletics Australia, Canberra)
Belle Brockhoff (Olympic Winter Institute of Australia, NSW Institute of Sport, Melbourne)
Blair Evans (Swimming Australia, Western Australian Institute of Sport, Perth)
Cooper Chapman (Surfing Australia, Sydney)
Dane Bird-Smith (Athletics Australia, Queensland Academy of Sport, Brisbane)
Declan Stacey (Diving Australia, NSW Institute of Sport, Sydney)
Emily Tapp (Triathlon Australia, ACT Academy of Sport, Canberra)
Erik Horrie (Rowing Australia, NSW Institute of Sport, Sydney)
Georgia Wilson (Hockey Australia, Western Australian Institute of Sport, Perth)
Gordon Allan (Cycling Australia, NSW Institute of Sport, Sydney)
Jaime Roberts (Paddle Australia, Western Australian Institute of Sport, Gold Coast)
Jo Brigden-Jones (Paddle Australia, NSW Institute of Sport, Sydney)
Ken Wallace (Paddle Australia, Gold Coast)
Kristy Harris (Boxing Australia, Geelong)
Laura Hingston (Diving Australia, Victorian Institute of Sport, Melbourne)
Michael Tone (Gymnastics Australia, Brisbane)
Monique Murphy (Swimming Australia, Queensland Academy of Sport, Brisbane)
Scott Reardon (Athletics Australia, Canberra)
Sophie Fletcher (Surfing Australia, Phillip Island)