The wheels are in motion for a mental health and wellbeing expo in Central West Queensland after Outback Futures was awarded a COVID-19 Emergency Community Grant of almost $10,000 towards the initiative.
Hand Heart Pocket the Charity of Freemasons Queensland provided the funding towards the cost to put on the two-day community event which is expected to be held next March. This comes after the Freemason charity provided an earlier grant of $9,900, at the height of the pandemic, to support the delivery of Outback Futures Stay with Me program for isolated families in the Barcaldine region.
Outback Futures Chief Executive Officer Selena Gomersall said the non-profit was appreciative of this second grant which again recognises their work in providing mental health and wellbeing support for rural and remote Queensland communities.
“When COVID-19 restrictions first came into effect we ramped up efforts to provide immediate mental health support for those in isolated communities,” Ms Gomersall said.
“Come next year, when restrictions have eased, we are excited to be supporting a weekend of events in Barcaldine, as part of the HEAD YAKKA mental health and wellbeing initiative, in partnership with Barcaldine Police and Barcaldine Regional Council. This event will bring the Central West community together and encourage them to engage in discussions around mental health and wellbeing in a safe and engaging context.
“It’s crucial that we continue to support outback communities following such tough period of isolation and uncertainty, as we all try to return to some level of normality.”
Local Comet Freemasons Lodge representative Kevin Kerr said the Barcaldine Freemasons had nominated the organisation for the grant.
“We’re so proud that the Freemason charity has stepped in with this funding to help Outback Futures to put on this community event, it’s just what we need.”
Hand Heart Pocket Chief Executive Officer Gary Mark said the charity was focused on assisting its existing charity partners and working with Freemason Lodges to increase support at a grassroots level during the Coronavirus pandemic.
“So far, Hand Heart Pocket has provided over $750,000 in COVID-19 emergency support and Grassroots Community Grants to charities across Queensland during the pandemic,” Gary said.
“We recognise that accessing mental health services in remote areas can be more challenging, which is why we’re provided additional support to Outback Futures to help get this initiative over the line.” “We are glad Freemasons could provide this hand up at a time when communities need extra support.”
The ‘Amazing Race Mental Health & Wellbeing Expo’ will take place on 20th-21st March, 2021 at the Barcaldine Showgrounds.
Photo: Back Row left to right: Doug Merchant, Inspector Julia Cook, S/C Natalie Timar, Front row left to right: Stuart Bourne, David Hauenschild, Jason Ricks, S/C Tanya Rewha, Outback Futures representative Brent Sweeney, Brett Jenkins and Kevin Kerr.