Ashton’s commitment to helping victims of domestic violence sees him at the forefront of his charity DV Safe Phone, an initiative to get working mobile phones to victims of domestic violence. He inspires not only local community to support by donating working mobile phones, but also has engaged big business to step into the space of social responsibility.
Danny Morrison used his platform as an international cricket star to raise awareness of suicide prevention. Danny’s motivation comes from his personal experience of losing his sister to suicide. His grief from this loss led to his own battles with depression and addiction. Danny shares his own story to encourage other men to know that it is okay to open up and be vulnerable and seek the help you need.
As a suicide survivor, Nathan has an empathy and understanding of what it feels like to be in a place no hope. After losing a young relative to suicide, Nathan founded his charity, Comunite’z, to help teenagers navigate the emotional landscape of adolescence. Nathan is passionate about providing messages of hope. “I’m a living, breathing example that life gets better.”
Through his podcast and radio programs, Matt is having real and authentic conversations that challenge the ‘Aussie men’s culture’ of being strong and stoic. These conversations often shine a light on underlying mental health issues in our community.
Founder of Average Joes, a men’s meet-up group offering conversation and mateship, Wayne is committed to creating a men’s network that can offer support and mentorship and a place of no judgement. “Men joke about what they want to talk about. It can be difficult to talk about matters of the heart”.
Blase is a leader among men. Through his work as a coach and men’s group facilitator, Blase is holding space for men to “crack themselves open to acknowledge, expose and live their truth”. He is creating a powerful social movement for men to embrace their vulnerabilities and become more conscious in their lives and in their roles within family.
Mark is the father of two girls who suffer from eating disorders. He founded endED with the goal of giving hope to those suffering from an eating disorder by creating an alternative to the medical model. Mark has led the support of eating disorders on the Sunshine Coast.
The impact of losing his brother and two close clients to suicide within a short period of time was so great, that Leon has dedicated his life to suicide prevention. After his brother’s death 9 years ago, Leon found himself at a crossroads with his own mental health. He has since become an advocate for mental health awareness and suicide prevention and actively coaches, counsels and inspires others through his business Body By Leon and through book writing and publishing.
Singer/songwriter and country music legend, Col’s music speaks to a generation of men that find it difficult to open up about mental health.
“Like many people, I have a ‘mate’ called anxiety. He turns up at the worst possible times. Music helps me deal with my mate anxiety and his mate depression and, along with other techniques learnt from Beyond Blue, send him on his way.”
A mountain bike accident left Darron Eastwell with a traumatic brain injury. He went from high-flying corporate banker one day to brain injury patient the next. His role as provider and the family dynamic changed forever. Through rehabilitation, therapy and a newfound sense of gratitude, Darron has emerged from the experience as a brain injury survivor and inspiration to others. “The old Darron finished back at the accident. This new Darron is learning to live again.”
Portraits of Mankind began with Daniel Bennett. Daniel was instrumental in getting this project started and in fact was the first man to be photographed. Daniel recognises the importance of holding space for men to express themselves and the personal power that comes from being acknowledged and accepted for who you are.
Mason Hope is a singer songwriter and headspace Ambassador.
Headspace provides mental health services for people aged 12-25 years. Mason’s song writing is reflective of our Aussie culture that makes it difficult for men to seek help with their mental health issues. His single “Let it Go” is a call for men to find strength in supporting each other.
Having faced suicide himself, Kurek knows first-hand the isolating experience of addiction and depression. After losing five friends in a freak helicopter accident, Kurek’s own life spun out of control. He not only turned his life around, he has now transformed thousands of lives through his work as a success and peak performance coach.
James Hill is a speaker for Beyond Blue, a Mental Health First Aid instructor, suicide awareness safeTALK instructor and mental health advocate for Energy Queensland. But James wasn’t always aware of the importance of understanding and looking after your own mental health wellbeing. His own struggles led him to contact Beyond Blue. He openly shares his own mental illness experience to change the culture that exists of men not asking for help.
“The environment I was working in very much had a mentality of ‘toughen up’ and that was my biggest undoing.”
Sam founded Grab Life by the Balls – a mateship movement that offers men relaxed, fun events in which to connect and ‘have a chin wag’ on the Sunshine Coast. The popularity of the group has seen Sam and his network of ‘wingmen’ expand ‘The Balls’ to other areas of Queensland. Sam isn’t stopping there – he’s now on a tour to establish more groups across Australia.
Trent took the brave step of leaving the security of a well-paid job in construction to follow his soul’s yearning. Trent has recreated himself as a healer within his community through his business “High on Chi”. He has supported many men through mental health challenges using the modalities of acupuncture, yoga and mindfulness.
Experiencing his own feelings of disconnection at an early age, Jandamarra’s childhood was shaped by bullying, racism and collisions with the law. Eventually discovering his weapon of choice was a paint brush, Jandamarra’s emotive artwork is bridging the gap between his indigenous culture and modern Australia. His paintings connect with many, including through his entries to the Archibald Prize.
Peter is a senior constable in the Vulnerable Persons Unit, which deals exclusively with any mental health crisis in the community where police are required to become involved. He works alongside Paul Frazer (who also appears in this exhibition) in a specialised team of three very committed Queensland Police Service members (two police and one civilian).
Peter has an interest in domestic violence and in mental health due to personal experience and a desire to learn and help. He has lived experience from a family member suffering significant mental health issues. Peter says that his knowledge and understanding of mental health has transformed through this work. As a first responder, he is confronted with life-threatening situations – including being first on the scene to the hostage-taking and attempted murder of a 12-year-old girl and the suicide of the male perpetrator who held her captive. He was also the first to respond to an attempted murder of an infant child by a mother suffering postnatal depression. “I have had exposure to critical incidents involving members of the public and work colleagues, including attempted and completed suicides. Thus, my interest in mental health and with supporting vulnerable people through difficult times.”
As a police officer working for the Vulnerable Persons Unit, Paul is part of a specialised team of three who review all mental health crises on the Sunshine Coast where police have been called. He currently participates in the PACER (Police & Clinical Early Responder) program, where he attends with a mental health nurse to assess if the person needs a mental health assessment in the home, and to assist with any de-escalation. Using this approach, 80% of those seen by the PACER team remain at home (with supports) avoiding the need for hospital admissions – a much better outcome for the person, police and community. Sadly, Paul has seen first-hand how PTSD, suicide and other issues affect first responders. “A high number of work colleagues have had to leave the police service due to PTSD and other mental health conditions. I can see that there is no organisation alone that can affect change in this area, but it needs to be a large-scale collaborative effort.”
As president of the Maroochy RSL subbranch, Michael understands that many veterans grapple with what they’ve seen in war-torn countries. “You get trained very well as a soldier, but you don’t get trained for the things that you see on deployment that can be very confronting. I brought home uncomfortable memories that still linger.” Joining the army at 18, Michael was deployed to both East Timor and Iraq during his military career. Witnessing so much devastation led him to develop more empathy for oppressed people everywhere. At the same time, the mental impact took a toll and he was eventually diagnosed with mild post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He manages it by learning to recognise his triggers so he can get help. “I hate hearing that a young soldier has taken their life. Trust is the biggest factor stopping people with PTSD talking about their issues. You need someone you can talk to who is not judgmental to lend you an ear. PTSD is found in all walks of life. It can be treated but you’ve got to take the first step. It’s not a sign of weakness to seek help.” He is keen to see all veterans recognised equally for their contribution, whether deployed overseas or serving in Australia.
Tim is a former Special Forces soldier whose military service involved dangerous work, such as disrupting a potential civil war in Timor-Leste and deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq. But he was surprised to discover his biggest challenge was the organisational culture within his unit. “In 2018, I fell into a crushing slump, but it was not about battlefield trauma. For me it was the realisation that those I worked closely with didn’t support me. It was a failure of organisational culture that led to my mental health problems.” Upon discharge, he used his paramedic skills as a fly in/fly out worker in the energy sector, but began suffering angry outbursts, heavy drinking and loss of motivation. He was diagnosed with PTSD and chronic depressive disorder. He credits his recovery to taking an 18-month break, which left time for self-reflection and enabled him to complete a 12-week psychologist-led course that gave him healthy coping strategies. Recently, Tim branched out into workplace health and safety training and has set up a charity that provides medical and retrieval services for trauma patients in remote or hostile environments. “All the parts of who I am, my values and what I learned from how I was treated or mistreated is how I now treat my staff. It’s given me the opportunity to do it my way.”