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Thousands walk for mental health awareness

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More than 1000 people including CFA members and staff, fellow emergency services personnel, defence force personnel and the community walked in solidarity for mental health on Saturday 23 March in Ballarat to raise awareness and funds for Walking Off The War Within.

Thousands walk for mental health awareness

Regional Controller Tony O'Day with Captain Koala

Walking Off The War Within is held across the country each year in memory of Nathan Shanahan, a CFA firefighter and returned soldier from Ballarat who was a fierce advocate of mental health awareness.

In April 2015 Nathan walked more than 400 kilometres from Mildura to Adelaide to raise awareness and funds for PTSD and depression. Sadly he lost his own battle with PTSD in December 2016.

The event aims to reduce the stigma associated with mental health, encourage conversations and help-seeking behaviour, and highlight wellbeing support services.

The WOTWW challenge is a replica of Nathan’s walk, encouraging people to share the burden and march as one. Each year, participants can complete the ultimate challenge – a 20 kilometre walk carrying 20 kilograms – or walk 1, 2, 3 or more kilometres.

This year’s event included family and children’s activities, community education displays, face painting and jumping castles.

Wellbeing consultant Naomi Engelke, Chief Officer Steve Warrington and Captain Koala

Photo courtesy Hamilton Fire Brigade

CFA also hosted a wellbeing chill-out zone for participants with members of the wellbeing team available to talk to anyone who needed it.

Members from Ballarat City Fire Brigade and rehab units from Dandenong Fire Brigade were also at the event.

Those who couldn’t make the journey to Ballarat held their own localised WOTWW events including in Mildura, where 40 walkers tackled a cross-Mildura hike  (pictured below), and Warrnambool.

Many CFA people have also found their own individual ways to support the cause. In January Hallam firefighter Shayne Egan competed in the Hobart Marathon to raise awareness and funds for Walking Off The War Within. 

Shayne will back this up on 14 April, raising money for Walking Off The War Within by running in the Canberra Marathon. Donations can be made directly via bank deposit: Walking Off The War Within  BSB: 083-532  Account number: 313496633

For more information on Walking Off The War Within visit www.walkoffww.com

Photo courtesy Mildura Fire Brigade

Hallam firefighter Shayne Egan competed in the Hobart Marathon to raise awareness and funds for WOTWW

CFA Wellbeing Support Line – 1800 959 232

If you are not okay, or if you notice a change in someone you know, contact the CFA Wellbeing Support Line to access free, confidential and 24/7 support.

These services are available to all CFA staff, volunteers and immediate family members.

The support services include the Member Assistance Program with psychologists and counsellors, Traditional and Career Firefighter Peer Support Program, Chaplaincy Program, Let Me Know platform, Bullying and Harassment Hotline, Centres Against Sexual Assault as well as the CFA Organisational Wellbeing team services. To view the complete range of services visit www.cfa.vic.gov.au/wellbeing