Donation supports youth mental health

A DONATION of $10,000 to Relationships Australia Tasmania is set to make a substantial difference to the positive promotion of youth mental health in Tasmania.

Kyra Bridges, a spare parts apprentice at Komatsu’s Hobart branch, applied for the funding through a program called Live Your Dream, designed by Komatsu to assist its employees to achieve personal goals to help communities.

The grant will enable SPEAK UP! Stay ChatTY, a program of Relationships Australia Tasmania, to fund a youth engagement officer to work with schools, sporting groups and communities.

Six proposals were chosen, ranging from Mr Bridges’ to programs as diverse as providing rejuvenated laptop computers to schools in Papua New Guinea and a mountain bike adventure in New Zealand to aid child cancer care.

“We’re super excited about Komatsu’s funding and so grateful to Kyra,” Mitch McPherson, founder and team leader of the SPEAK UP! Stay ChatTY program, said.

“It’s caused us to accelerate our work in youth engagement and we are now actively seeking a one-day-a-week specialist employee to work with us to develop our Youth Engagement Framework.

“Ideally, we’ll find someone who can engage with young people who has a TAFE or university qualification in the appropriate areas like sociology.

“We’re looking for someone who can become a voice in the community.”

SPEAK UP! Stay ChatTY has already become a major influencer.

Mr McPherson started the program in 2013 after losing his brother Ty to suicide – explaining why the last two letters of the organisation’s name are in capitals.

Mitch has spoken to more than 700 school and community groups, and the program’s Facebook page now has more than 25,000 followers.

The program is broad reaching, delivering programs under three pillars: schools, sporting clubs and community, and workplaces.

“It’s impossible to say how many lives Stay ChatTY has impacted, but it’s our positive message about it being OK to speak up about things that are troubling young people of our community is getting through,” Mr McPherson said.

Relationships Australia Tasmania partnered with SPEAK UP! Stay ChatTY after it saw Mr McPherson’s efforts, enabling him to put his job as a glazier on hold, and devote himself full-time to his quest.

Until now, the organisation’s efforts have focused on presentation of the issues influencing youth mental health, but Mr Bridges’ donation, through Komatsu, will enable it to go up a gear.

“We now have four full-time staff and with growing community support such as Kyra’s and Komatsu’s, we’re able to move to the next phase, which is youth engagement,” Mr McPherson said.

Caption: From left, Komatsu Australia national marketing and campaigns manager Wafaa Ghali, Komatsu Live Your Dream winner and spare parts apprentice Kyra Bridges and SPEAK UP! Stay ChatTY founder Mitch McPherson.

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