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    GRATEFUL: Dimboola Ski Club president Darren Bone hands Rural Outreach worker Mal Coutts a cheque for $8000 to support mental health first aid workshops for community groups.

Ski event benefits mental health

Dimboola Ski Club has donated more than $12,000 to two Wimmera charities – the proceeds of its annual Peter Taylor Memorial Barefoot Waterski Tournament.

The club presented Wimmera Against Cancer in Kids, WACK, a $4906 donation, and $8000 was given to Rural Outreach, a Grampians Health mental health program.

Rural Outreach will use the money to support its employees, who travel across western Victoria to deliver mental health support to people in their own homes. 

Ski club president Darren Bone said the club had been touched by mental illness.

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“It’s one of the biggest issues we have today, especially with young people,” he said.

“The younger guys tend to bottle everything up and get their heads pickled, and sadly we’ve seen what that can lead to.

“Rural Outreach has already helped our club members, and plenty of others in the community, and the need is only getting bigger.”

The tournament, which took place in February, attracted 3500 people to Dimboola. 

“We started it to honour my best mate, Peter Taylor, who was like a god in the barefooting fraternity,” Mr Bone said.

“Peter died of oesophagus cancer and we do put money towards cancer research, but frankly, mental illness is a more pressing issue for us at the moment.

“Rural Outreach gives people an outlet to talk and that’s needed by so many families right now.”

Rural Outreach worker Mal Coutts commended the club for prioritising and de-stigmatising mental health services, through open conversations.

“The ski club has dealt with some terrible things, but good things have come out of it,” Mr Coutts said.

“It’s humbling to know that our work is making a difference, and this donation will extend our reach.”

Mr Coutts hopes the funding will facilitate more mental health first aid workshops for community groups.

“We need to empower communities, not to be fixers, but to identify when people are struggling and to understand how mental illness works,” he said.

“These workshops help with strategies and tools, to be able to ask questions if you see someone who is not ok.”

People can contact the free Rural Outreach service by calling 1300 OUTREACH – 1300 688 732.

The entire July10, 2024 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!