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Windaan were thrilled to attend Greg Inglis’ Goanna Academy launch, held in Macksville on Monday 28 September.
The Goanna Academy is an initiative Inglis founded to help change lives for the better and break the cycle of poor mental health among youth, adults and the Indigenous community.
Goanna Academy provides opportunities for children and youth aged 6 to 18 years to develop skills through rugby league drills, while addressing the important topic of mental health. For adults, the Goanna Academy provides a safe and supported space to yarn and share stories about mental health.
At the event, Inglis led a talk about mental health, sharing his personal struggles and triumphs, to help break down the stigma sometimes associated with mental health issues.
Letting young people know they’re not alone
Inglis says his passion for talking about mental health comes from his life experience – which has included ups and downs.
“Throughout my life, I’ve faced some challenges,” he says. “Having the right people around me, like my friends and family, has been really important. Talking about my struggles has also helped. I hope that by sharing my experience, or through something I say, others will know they’re not alone.”
Inglis says he enjoys sharing his knowledge of development skills with the children and young people coming through Goanna Academy. He hopes participants will become the next generation of ‘champions’ who support others who may be struggling.
Facts and figures about children, young people and mental health
Highlighting the importance of mental health for young people couldn’t be more timely. Here’s some facts and figures about youth and children’s mental health in Australia:
- Kids Helpline experienced a 40 per cent spike in calls this March compared to the same time last year.
- Even before the pandemic, Australian children and young people were struggling with mental health concerns. The 2013–14 ‘Young Minds Matter’ survey showing that almost 1 in 7 children and adolescents aged 4 to 17 were assessed as experiencing mental health disorders in the previous 12 months.
- That’s equivalent to about 591,000 children and adolescents, (based on the estimated 2017 population).
- The Australian Government’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescent and youth health and wellbeing 2018 report explains that young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people may face additional obstacles in making a successful transition to adulthood. Factors including the effect of inter-generational trauma, racism and prejudice, and socioeconomic disadvantage are all relevant to understanding the experiences of young Indigenous people today.
- The same report showed around two-thirds of Indigenous people aged 15–24 experienced one or more personal stressors in the previous year, with inability to get a job being the most common. One in three reported being treated unfairly because they were Indigenous.
- It also showed that most Indigenous people aged 15–24 (67%) experienced low to moderate levels of psychological distress in the previous month, while 33% experienced high to very high levels.
When it comes to mental wellbeing, youth mental health organisation headspace emphasise that “There is no shame in talking it out.” Their ‘Yarn Safe’ page likens mental health to a tree:
“To stay strong and healthy it needs looking after. You need to take care of the roots of the tree for it to grow tall and stand strong.”
They have a range of mental health resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The Windaan connection
Windaan provides culturally respectful health and support services on the Mid-North Coast of New South Wales, covering Gumbaynggir, Dunghutti and Biripi country. We are focused on creating pathways for Aboriginal children and their families to access quality early childhood intervention, allied health, primary health and disability services.
Joseph (Joe) Archibald, Windaan’s Service Manager, explains that Windaan support and advocate for Aboriginal people living with disabilities, and their carers and families. “We have an amazing and passionate team that have an incredible skillset,” he says. “We’re here to help our mob understand the NDIS and find out if they’re eligible. We provide culturally appropriate and safe ways that empower people with the confidence they need to get the most from the NDIS.”
Windaan are proud sponsors of the Wall Street Warriors Rugby League Football Club – a newly-established Aboriginal football club based in the heart of Macksville. When Greg Inglis isn’t busy playing for the NRL or Super League, he plays for the Wall Street Warriors team.
Windaan pride ourselves on being an inclusive provider – people of all abilities and from all backgrounds can access our services. And with telehealth technology, we can work with people aged 0-65 years across all Nations.