State Government pumps $700,000 into mental health messaging, support for World Surf League events

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
WSL's Andrew Stark with WA Government Minister Paul Papalia at the 2020 Margaret River Pro.
Camera IconWSL's Andrew Stark with WA Government Minister Paul Papalia at the 2020 Margaret River Pro. Credit: Joli/joliphotos.com

The WA Government has tipped $700,000 into professional surfing to bolster the focus on mental health.

In addition to existing sponsorship for World Surf League events such as the Margaret River Pro, the Think Mental Health message will now be displayed prominently during events.

Additionally, the money would underscore greater outreach through surfing to communities such as Margaret River where events are held, with top-level competitors to make themselves available as mental health ambassadors.

WA Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson said the WSL and Surfing WA partnership opened “a fantastic platform” for messaging around mental health.

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“These partnerships allow us to directly engage with the surfing community and younger generations on how to proactively look after our mental health,” she said.

“Both organisations have a genuine commitment to making a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of Western Australians, and we look forward to the positive community health outcomes these partnerships will bring.”

WSL Asia-Pacific president Andrew Stark said the surf fraternity was grateful to be involved.

“Awareness around mental health is something that is really important to WSL and our athletes, which is why this partnership with Healthway is such a special one for us,’ he said.

“Mental wellbeing is something people from all walks of life can struggle with, and we believe our surfers and platforms can be really powerful when it comes to sending positive messages around mental health, not to mention the act of surfing itself.”

Among other measures to be brought in by the two-year funding fillip, staff would also receive mental-health first-aid training, and Surfing WA programs would be supported as community outreach.

Those programs included the Pathway to the Pro Series, Statewide Learn to Surf programs, WA School Surfing Titles, and support for all boardrider clubs and affiliated surf schools, as well as their Indigenous leadership program.

Warren-Blackwood MLA Jane Kelsbie welcomed the new partnership championing mental health.

“Taking care of your mental health is so important, and something that we should pay attention to and look after from a young age,” she said.

“Partnering with WSL and Surfing WA raises the public profile of mental health and wellbeing and puts it front and centre in the living rooms of WA residents as they watch the Margaret River Pro.”

Surfing WA chief executive Mark Lane was unable to respond to inquiries before deadline.

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