Paralympian silver medallist Monique Murphy and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Blair Evans have been selected as inaugural Lifeline Community Custodians.
The duo form part of a twenty-one-athlete contingent – hailing from 13 sports across the country – who have been chosen to participate in the program, which will see athletes become advocates for mental health and positive community spirit.
Jointly designed by the AIS and Lifeline Australia, the initiative aims to reduce the stigma of mental health and promote the positive contributions athletes and sport can make to their communities.
AIS Director of Athlete Wellbeing and Engagement, Matti Clements, said the team of Community Custodians would spend the next 12 months raising mental health awareness in their communities and their sports.
“At the AIS we know the positive influence sport and athletes have in their communities and the inspiration they provide, so this program is about spreading that positivity far and wide across Australia,” Clements said.
“A partnership with Lifeline is fantastic because these athletes will be attending community events, telling their own personal stories of resilience but also benefitting from personal development. The AIS wants athletes to be successful in sport and life, so this is also about enabling athletes to find balance beyond their sporting careers and giving them a meaningful opportunity to help others.”
Lifeline Australia CEO Colin Seery said the organisation was proud to partner with the AIS and thanked the Community Custodians, who join a national movement of more than 10,000 Lifeline volunteers and 1,000 employees.
“When these athletes talk in support of Lifeline, they will be helping to reduce stigma and shape a more compassionate society, one that focuses on bringing people together and reducing isolation – they will be helping families to ensure their loved ones are kept safe,” Seery said.
“In 2017, there were 3,128 lives lost to suicide in Australia, a nine percent increase on the year before and one life lost every three hours. Every life taken is a son, daughter, mother, father, brother or sister lost for ever.
“Lifeline receives one million contacts every year to our national number - 13 11 14 - and suicide prevention services. We are here because no person in Australia should have to face their darkest moments alone.”
Lifeline Community Custodians
Jenna O'Hea (Basketball Australia, Melbourne)
Anabelle Smith (Diving Australia, Victorian Institute of Sport, Melbourne)
Angie Ballard (Athletics Australia, Canberra)
Belle Brockhoff (Olympic Winter Institute of Australia, NSW Institute of Sport, Melbourne)
Blair Evans (Swimming Australia, Western Australian Institute of Sport, Perth)
Cooper Chapman (Surfing Australia, Sydney)
Dane Bird-Smith (Athletics Australia, Queensland Academy of Sport, Brisbane)
Declan Stacey (Diving Australia, NSW Institute of Sport, Sydney)
Emily Tapp (Triathlon Australia, ACT Academy of Sport, Canberra)
Erik Horrie (Rowing Australia, NSW Institute of Sport, Sydney)
Georgia Wilson (Hockey Australia, Western Australian Institute of Sport, Perth)
Gordon Allan (Cycling Australia, NSW Institute of Sport, Sydney)
Jaime Roberts (Paddle Australia, Western Australian Institute of Sport, Gold Coast)
Jo Brigden-Jones (Paddle Australia, NSW Institute of Sport, Sydney)
Ken Wallace (Paddle Australia, Gold Coast)
Kristy Harris (Boxing Australia, Geelong)
Laura Hingston (Diving Australia, Victorian Institute of Sport, Melbourne)
Michael Tone (Gymnastics Australia, Brisbane)
Monique Murphy (Swimming Australia, Queensland Academy of Sport, Brisbane)
Scott Reardon (Athletics Australia, Canberra)
Sophie Fletcher (Surfing Australia, Phillip Island)