The last two years have seen so many challenges—fires, drought floods, pandemic—and we’ve seen some incredible grit in the face of it all. But mental health needs are huge and growing. The business community is in constant uncertainty. Young people are missing school, their friends and regular activities. People of all ages and backgrounds are struggling without their usual supports. The resilience of people from all walks of life is being sorely tested.

So today I share a local response story—the aptly named Grit and Resilience project, from my electorate of Indi. They’ve delivered, in partnership with multiple organisations, and the project aims to help locals unite and build strength, courage and connection with each other so that everyone can overcome hardships together.

Two hundred local people have been trained and engaged as community volunteers to meet with people wherever they’re at—small towns, local cafes, sporting clubs. They’ve been trained in things like mental health first aid and they’ve developed practical, community driven activities such as helping young girls stay connected with sporting activities through providing gym memberships to keep them active.

The project is featured as a case study in the final report of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, which recommended this model as a positive community approach to mental health.

I want to commend all the volunteers; the program coordinator, Bek Nash-Webster; and community partners Caz Sammon, John Davis, Ruby Sait and Chelsea Wilson. I am so proud of everyone involved and grateful for your wonderful work.

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