A portrait of farming life and the mental health challenges experienced by blokes in regional Western Australia featured on the ABC’s current affairs show, 7.30pm on Tuesday.Read more
Soa Palelei is a retired professional athlete turned mental health ambassador, motivational speaker, and published author.
Despite being a 3x World Champion (IKBF, KOz Entertainment, and AFC World Champion) in one of the most physically and mentally-demanding sports in the modern age – The Ultimate Fight Championship (UFC), he battled with his own mental health issues brought about by his career and his background of being physically abused throughout his entire childhood.
All of his experiences have led to the realization of his passion to help raise mental health awareness to break the stigma around it. Through Strong Minds, Strong Mines and his own personal ventures, Soa has devoted most of his time and resources in helping FIFO/DIDO workers, schools, governments, and people from all walks of life understand and be more comfortable with talking about internal challenges and struggles that can be related to mental and physical health problems.
Strong Minds, Strong Mines is an advocacy-driven organisation that combine research and real-world experiences along with a personal and relatable approach in implementing wellness programs that address the mental and physical health problems that can affect people working in remote environments.
Despite being a small organisation with a few employees located in Perth, the group has helped several mining sites around the country by giving motivational talks and by implementing wellness programs that highlight awareness and understanding within the workplace to promote prevention and early intervention.
With the ongoing trend of FIFO/DIDO employments and the associated mental health related casualties in the country, the organization has made it their mission to eradicate the stigma and discrimination against mental health not just in the workplace but also in the everyday lives of the people in this industry.
Apart from being the main wellness ambassador of Strong Minds, Strong Mines, Soa Palelei has made it his personal mission to build better communities that thrive in good mental and physical health through his personal ventures.
Aside from giving talks through the company’s programs, he is also connected to several WA local schools and government organisations where he often does outreach programs and do partnerships with. Having been physically abused as a young child, Soa also recognized the importance of addressing mental health issues as early as possible to promote prevention and early intervention.
He has delivered mental health presentations bearing his soul and sharing his darkest moments with people from all walks of life, taking them on a journey through his life’s highs and lows, and providing them with options and support to realise that they don’t have to go through these tough experiences alone. After having done over 250 talks in schools around Australia and several more in the mining industries through the different ventures he has under his belt, Soa still challenges himself in finding more ways to support and live for his cause.
He has also published a book called, “Face Your Fears” back in 2016 wherein he tackled his personal redeeming story from being a once-abused and homeless kid to becoming a champion in the ring and in life. The book has reached a Top 5 status in the Top 10 Sports Literature category this year. The book also became the main inspiration for his personal project called, “Face Your Fears” that connects him to several organisations as a keynote motivational speaker for mental and physical wellbeing.
Soa is also an active supporter of several other causes including, but not limited to, Telethon where he has participated by completing a grueling 24-hour non-stop bike ride to support their causes. He has also granted two wishes as a Make A Wish Ambassador. He is also a proud ambassador of WA White Ribbon and Violence Against Women where he has used every opportunity possible to help develop people into the best versions of themselves. To this day, Soa continues to be on the lookout for more ventures and groups he can support to further his passion in making communities mentally and physically healthy.
In the sea of different organisations and programs that also give focus on mental and physical health being launched here and there, Soa’s own experiences and passion for his mission has given him and his different ventures a rare humanistic approach which is difficult to find these days.
Nominated by Kim Trengove on behalf of Nidia Rodrigues
Jon Marginis is a counselling registrar psychologist that primes himself with working with boys' and males in the mental health arena. When working, he shares his knowledge about how cognitive, developmental, psychological and psychosocial changes occur in boys and men and how this can impact them throughout their lifespan. Jon prides himself by working throughout the lifespan and is an advocate for boys and males engaging in mental health services. He believes in educating boys from a young age about the importance of being aware of their emotions, naming them and being able to regulate them. Jon places a heavy emphasis on early intervention when working with boys and their families. He does this as he sees speaking to boys about their mental health as soon as possible as key in breaking the perceived stigma many boys face throughout their lives around what it means to be a real man.
Throughout Jon’s years of being involved in mental health, he has worked relentlessly in raising the profile and importance of male mental health on a local and global level. Jon has spoken in a number of forums about the boundaries perceived by boys and men when trying to access mental health support or perceived stigma around this. He has spoken and presented comprehensively on why boys and men traditionally do not talk or access counselling and why adolescent males engage in risk taking behavior. He has also raised attention and awareness around the low number of male psychologists, which in affect acts as a barrier to men accessing psychological help. Jon has also reviewed male mental health related policies and discussed ways of altering the stigma that many men face when they consider accessing counselling. In regards to benefiting his community, Jon has been interviewed by the media on his professional view around male adolescent self esteem, boys and social media, the importance of wellbeing in schools, and how to encourage boys and adolescent boys to open up. He also has presented and written numerous pieces on the developmental and psychological changes that boys go through during childhood and adolescents. In regards to volunteering, Jon has a past of volunteering in mental health facilities, specifically in wards holding male patients.
When working with males, Jon enjoys helping boys develop a healthy self identity and positive self image as they develop into young men. He is known to work well clinically, but also is able to speak to young boys, adolescent males and adults on a range of topics. Currently, in one of Jon’s roles he works at an all boys school, whereby he is one of the psychologists. In this role, he works with boys from as young as 3 up until the age of 18. In Jon’s other role, he works in a private practice with a keen focus on working with boys and men. Jon sees males regardless of their age in an effort to actively breakdown the stigma attached to seeing a psychologist and seeking assistance. On an individual clinical level, when working with his male clients, he treats them with respect and works in a manner that allows them to feel safe and vulnerable. Within Perth, he is known as one of the leading psychologists that works with boys and males. He is unique in the way he practices as he sees boys from as young as 3 years of age, which maximizes the positive impact of reducing stigma around mental health in boys.
Jon works with a range of boys ranging from three years old and upwards at our school. The boys gravitate to him, often thinking he is the basketball coach as he bounces and passes the ball with them while speaking and supporting them through their concerns, anxieties or whatever else is going on for these children. Jon’s passion and commitment to working with these students is evident and he shows genuine care for their progress and wellbeing. Jon also makes time to support his colleagues to work with these boys to obtain the best outcomes for them, always making them his priority. Our school is very lucky to have Jon to assist our students in their times of need and to help them grow strength, resilience, balance and mental health. - Maria Hodges, Head of Junior School, Scotch College
Aussie-FIT, a program set against a popular sports environment and designed to help men achieve better health, is back to support men with a history of heart disease.Read more
A comprehensive men’s health directory was launched on International Men’s Day, listing key service providers and organisations supporting men’s health in Australia.Read more
AverageJoes are men’s weekly meet-ups happening in pubs and cafes around Australia. It began on the sunny Coast 6 months ago with two blokes meeting together to talk raw and real and has now grown to 6 meetups around Australia with 9 more about to open. AJs has now just also registered in Kenya and Pakistan with the emphasis of getting men back to the basics of meeting together using their natural ability to problem solve and talk life by using a weekly topic set by the two founders or even just ‘go with the flow’ conversations. We cannot keep up with just reading the testimonies let alone the natural growth these AJs meet-ups are having. 10 newspapers articles, Movember interviews, magazine interviews, countless radio interviews resulting with a free airtime by running a radio add approx 25 times a day.