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April 20, 2021

Beyondblue big bus brekky in Byron

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Beyondblue’s Bronwyn and Sarah spreading the word about mental health support services with the big blue bus and its new Movember mo. Photo Eve Jeffery.

Byeondblue’s big blue bus arrived in Byron Bay at 7.30 this morning for the first stop on the north-coast leg of its National Roadshow: the Byron Community Centre’s weekly breakfast for the homeless.

The aim of the tour is to provide free resources to regional communities and to highlight details of the beyondblue Support Service SMS call-back option.

The bus and the innovative beyondblue coaching program is being trialled this week, with stops planned for Byron Bay, Ballina, Lismore, Mullumbimby, Murwillumbah, Coffs Harbour, Valla, Port Macquarie and Kempsey.

Beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman said the activities and events will provide a great opportunity for people in the community to find out more about depression and anxiety, and how to stay well.

‘We’ll also be working with our NewAccess Coaches in the region who, since February, have been providing free personal coaching to people with the early signs and symptoms of depression or anxiety’, she said.

The beyond blue crew for this leg of the trip are Bronwyn and Sarah who say they really enjoy visiting the towns and meeting the people who visit the bus.

Sarah said that the response to the bus is great with many people telling stories about how beyondblue has helped them in the past and in some cases of the vehicle’s timely arrival in their town, and Bronwyn says that they get asked for a lot of advice.

‘We’ve had great conversations with people around the roadshow’, she said. ‘The common questions we get are about what treatments are available and what can you do if you are depressed or anxious. People are interested in the signs and symptoms and wanting to know how you can identify it as early as possible.

‘There are also concerns about the growing number of suicides and how we can tackle that in both the metropolitan and rural areas,’ she said.

In Byron this morning visitors to the bus were told about how the SMS call-back option enables people who are homeless to get a call back from the beyondblue support service by sending a text message.

The NewAccess service is an Australian-first pilot program, made possible with funds from the Movember Foundation.

The program pairs people experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety with a trained coach who works them through their problems either face-to-face, or over the phone. NewAccess is free, confidential and can be accessed directly, without the need for a GP referral. The north coast is one of three Medicare Local areas in Australia where the program is being piloted.

‘This program was not only designed to ease the burden on current services by offering low-intensity early support to people, but also to increase the number of Australians who get support at the right time’, said Ms Harman.

‘Three million Australians are living with anxiety or depression. These are common conditions and can affect anyone. Unfortunately, over half of all people who experience depression or anxiety don’t seek help. We’re hoping to change that.’

The big blue bus has travelled almost 40,000km through the ACT, South Australia, Western Australia, NT and Queensland since February. The bus will visit the Hunter Medicare Local region, including Newcastle, from 6-13 December. The Roadshow will wrap up in Victoria in mid-2015


Sarah and Bronwyn with the big blue bus's new Movember mo. Photo Eve Jeffery.
Sarah and Bronwyn with the big blue bus’s new Movember mo. Photo Eve Jeffery.

The schedule for the tour on the north coast is:

BYRON BAY – Wednesday 19 November

7.30am-9am, Byron Community Centre, Fletcher Street, Byron Bay

The National Roadshow team will attend the Byron Community Centre’s weekly breakfast for the homeless to provide free resources and details of the beyondblue Support Service SMS call-back option.

11am-1pm – Byron Bay High School, Broken Head Road, Byron Bay

Students at Byron Bay High School  will be provided with free Youthbeyondblue information resources about depression, anxiety and how to help a friend, including details of the Check-in app, (a free mobile app offering advice for anyone who wants to check in with a friend) and the Brave program (fornthe prevention and treatment of anxiety in young people). beyondblue’s Bronwyn Collins will also share with Year 11 students her experience of depression, recovery and staying well.

BALLINA – Thursday 20 November

6.30am-7.30am, Ballina Shire Council workers breakfast, Council Works Depot, 81-95, Southern Cross Drive, Ballina

There will be free beyondblue information available and staff will be encouraged to make a mental health pledge (a written commitment or goal to achieve or maintain good mental health).

11am-2pm – Bunnings Ballina, Corner of Horizon Drive and River Street, Ballina

Everyone is encouraged to drop by and pick up free beyondblue information, chat to beyondblue staff, find out about available local support services and make a mental health pledge. Ballina Global Care will also be running a sausage sizzle.

LISMORE – Friday 21 November


Trinity Catholic College Lismore, 1 Dawson Street, Lismore

Students at Trinity Catholic College Lismore will receive a visit from the big blue bus and National Roadshow team and will be provided with free Youthbeyondblue information resources about depression, anxiety and how to help a friend, including details of the Check-in app and Brave program. beyondblue’s Bronwyn Collins will also share with Years 7/8 and 11 students her experience of depression, recovery and staying well.

MULLUMBIMBY – Friday 21 November


Mullum Music Festival, Mullumbimby

The big blue bus and National Roadshow team will set up within the Mullum Music Festival precinct to provide festival-goers with the opportunity to pick up free beyondblue information and chat with beyondblue staff. Note: The Mullum Music Festival is a ticketed event. For more details, visit www.mullummusicfestival.com

MURWILLUMBAH – Saturday 22 November


Tweed Foodie Fest, Murwillumbah Showground, 37 Queensland Road

The National Roadshow team and big blue bus will attend the main event of the annual Tweed Foodie Fest – Tweed’s Biggest Dinner Party – at the Murwillumbah Showground. The evening is a great opportunity to drop by the bus and pick up free beyondblue information, chat to beyondblue staff, find out about local health services and make a mental health pledge.

Note: Entry is free for people wanting to bring a picnic rug. For more details, visit www.tweedfoodiefest.com.au.

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