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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Upper Hunter’s Where There’s a Will honoured for suicide prevention work

An Upper Hunter not-for-profit organisation has been recognised for its outstanding suicide prevention work.

Scone-based Where There’s a Will (WTAW) picked up the education accolade at the 2021 Barbara Hocking Memorial Awards.

The prestigious awards, conducted by R U OK?, aim to recognise and celebrate the people and groups who have made an exceptional contribution to share the R U OK? message in their community; inspire others to become involved with R U OK?; and encourage others to have regular meaningful conversations and invest more time in the people around them.

It also acknowledges efforts to create a world where we are all connected and protected from suicide across five categories: workplace, education, community, Conversation Champion and Young Conversation Champion.

“Where There’s a Will is making a big difference in the Muswellbrook and Upper Hunter LGAs (local government areas) by working to improve literacy in wellbeing and mental health for students, families and the wider community,” R U OK? CEO Katherine Newton said.

“To coincide with R U OK? Day, WTAW launched the Act of Humanity Awards to promote the R U OK? message.

“This involved schools recognising an individual or a group of friends who demonstrated support for someone in need.

“Looking out for one another and lending assistance are key life skills for any age group.

“The education category recognises organisations and institutions that are promoting a positive environment of peer support.”

The award follows on from recent acknowledgements for WTAW as Best Community Initiative through the NSW Government’s Mental Health Matters program.

Founder Pauline Carrigan said it was another great honour for the Upper Hunter.

“The award recognises the importance of the work happening in our schools particularly via the Strengths of Humanity award introduced last year that encourages students to develop skills and strengths that allow them to ask others R U OK?,” she told the Newcastle Weekly.

“We’re trying to show that asking RU OK? is a way to live and I hope the Larkin family, who founded the charity, are pleased with the work we have happening here in the Upper Hunter.

“Through the Positive Education programs we’re funding in schools, and through the Mental Health First Aid training we’re providing to every Year 8 student, we’re making sure that things like asking RU OK?  is a serious but normal part of our culture.”

Ms Newton said R U OK? was truly inspired by the efforts of all the nominees for the Barbara Hocking Memorial Awards.

But, she also singled out WTAW, who aspires to reach a wider audience in the greater Hunter moving forward.

“Where There’s a Will is having a very real and positive impact by encouraging others to have regular, meaningful conversations and invest more time in the people around them,” Ms Newton added.

The awards celebrated the life of Barbara Hocking OAM (d. 2016), one of Australia’s leading advocates for people living with mental illness, too.

“They honour a long-time friend of R U OK? who was a leader in the mental health and suicide prevention sector,” R U OK? chair Mike Connaghan said.

“She dedicated her life to peer-to-peer support, highlighting that all of us can have a meaningful conversation with someone in our world who might be struggling with the ups and downs of life.

“Barbara was the first person from the mental health sector who believed in the merit of the R U OK? mission to break down stigma and encourage conversations that can change lives.”

Details of all categories, finalists and winners for The Barbara Hocking Memorial Awards can be found on the R U OK? website at www.ruok.org.au/barbara-hocking-memorial-award

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