Maffra Football-Netball Club and Mindfull Aus are teaming up this weekend to spread vital mental health, behavioural health and suicide prevention awareness in the local community.

Following two Mindfull Aus health and well-being awareness seminars at Maffra FNC on Tuesday, the Eagles and the not-for-profit group will continue their partnership in Round 11 of the Gippsland League to discuss mind and behavioural health and suicide prevention at tomorrow’s Battle of the Birds clash with Sale.

With facilitation from compassionate, lived-experience advocates and trained professionals with inspiring journeys that replicate wellness and a life of hope, healing and recovery, Mindfull Aus travels the nation and the world, establishing connections that provide individuals with the intrepidity to accept an onus for their well-being.

Having lived with a mental illness, survived suicide attempts, and lost several friends to suicide, Mindfull Aus founder Matt Runnalls has worked as a mental health advocate to create awareness, acceptance, and education over the past seven years, utilising his knowledge of lived experience to encourage others to feel comfortable to speak up and manage their wellbeing just as he continues to do.

Mindfull Aus focuses on three key demographics: blue-collar industries and sporting clubs, regional and remote communities, and youth and children.

Compounding data from government agencies, health and mental health organisations, charities, and universities reveal sombre figures highlighting blue-collar industries, sporting clubs, regional and remote communities and youth and children as high-risk suicide areas.

Like Matt, the devastating effects of suicide are well known to Maffra Football-Netball Club’s Jon Dewsbury.

“I’m from Moe, and I had a young boy who I coached and family friends with; we still are very, very close family friends, and he, unfortunately, took his life when he was 17, only a couple of years ago,” Jon said.

“Matt Runnalls, who is the founder of Mindfull Aus, has done a lot with his family to promote mental health, to try to make a change, to try and break the stigma, just having that initial conversation highlighting what may be, you just don’t know until you have that initial conversation.

“Mindfull Aus do some great things with a lot of sporting groups, schools, and businesses, and they also have another foundation apart of Mindfull Aus called the Tyson Bale Memorial; he was a young footballer from Warragul Industrials who took his life at the start of 2020.

“So, for me, this tries to break the change within our small community and remind people that it’s okay to talk, but it also helps us raise much needed awareness for other sporting groups to have these conversations.

“There are a lot of foundations out there which do an amazing job, and I would never take anything away from what they do, but unfortunately for a lot of these foundations, it’s having these conversations after someone has passed away where Mindfull Aus has a big drive on having the conversation before they do anything.

“So recognising, highlighting, giving the support services, giving them what they may need that just may change someone’s mindset and just having that initial conversation which will eventually save a life.”

Jon’s relationship with the devastating effects of suicide has served as a driving force for the former Moe footballer to spread vital mental health and suicide prevention awareness within the local community, leading him to facilitate Maffra FNC’s partnership with Mindfull Aus.

Last Tuesday’s Mindfull Aus seminars focused on understanding the mind through a relatable and realistic view, what mental health looks and feels like, understanding the role of peer support in dealing with others and creating a culture of interaction and support within teams and community to ensure strong relationships and the comfort to speak up.

Tomorrow, when Maffra takes on Sale, the Eagles will don green Mindfull Aus socks and laces, while netballers will wear Mindfull Aus playing bibs.

A Mindfull Aus stall will be stationed at the Maffra FNC grounds, allowing facilitators to integrate with the broader community and establish a connection that provides people with the courage to take acceptance and onus for their well-being and facilitate relatable services from a place of love with hope, acceptance and recovery.

Maffra FNC president John Brunt said mental health and suicide were increasingly prominent issues in the world, and he hoped that by partnering with Matt and his Mindfull Aus team, the club can make a difference.

“It is such a real issue in the world,” he said.

“Whether we get a good response or not, if we change one life or save one life, or we teach someone to recognise the signs and reach out to someone, we figure it’s a pretty good investment.

“We realise it’s in young people, it’s in all ages and with the group that we look after within the community, it is a real issue, so we just think it is a really good cause, and when Jon brought it up, we thought ‘yeah let’s go with it’ because it is a real issue within our community and if we can help by doing this that would be great.”

If you or anyone you know needs help

Lifeline 13 11 14

Kids Helpline 1800 551 800

Beyond Blue 1300 224 636

Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467

Headspace 1800 650 890

Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Crisis Support Line 13YARN 13 92 76

MensLine Australia 1300 789 978

Open Arms Veterans & Families Counselling 1800 011 046