SOUTH west mental health support program Let’s Talk has received $59,000 in financial support to employ dedicated presenters.
Through funds raised through its St Patrick’s Day fires bushfire appeal and the Victorian Freemasons Foundation, Freemasons Victoria donated $54,000 towards the group last Wednesday.
Local Freemasons representative and Let’s Talk director Craig Wood said the funding would contribute to putting counsellors on the ground and supporting presenters to visit local schools, sporting clubs and groups.
“Freemasonry is about supporting the local community,” he said.
Mr Wood said while the physical scars of last year’s fires had healed, the psychological damage was still there.
“It is an ongoing issue,” he said.
“We all know that it hasn’t gone.”
Let’s Talk co-founder Mick Fitzgibbon said as the group continued to grow, more people were needed to carry the group’s message.
“We have to bring it to a level where it is achievable for everybody,” he said.
Mr Fitzgibbon said the group aimed to help deliver the Tomorrow Man program, which targets outdated ideas of masculinity in children, as well as a new arm in the Colac area.
Let’s Talk co-ordinator Jacinta Roache said the aim of the group was to spread positive messages, as one in five Australians experience mental illness each year.
“We need to get our message out as far and wide as we can,” she said.
Freemasons Victoria Leura Lodge member John Patterson said Let’s Talk’s efforts would coincide with Freemasons’ state-wide suicide prevention campaign.
“I think it is up to us, as a society, to help,” he said.
With support from the Cumorah Foundation, the South West Community Foundation contributed $5000 towards Let’s Talk through its annual grants program.