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Byron Shire
September 27, 2023

Scouts upscale mental health support

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Scouts NSW.

Scouts NSW has been announced as a 2020 CommBank Bushfire Recovery Grant recipient. The local organisation that supports 20,000 young people and adults across the state, has received $49,890 which will better equip their volunteers to support those experiencing mental health issues.

Just under half of Scouts NSW’s members live in rural and regional areas of NSW, with many of the scout regions impacted by the bushfires, including the South Coast and Tablelands, North Coast, the Riverina and Greater Western Sydney.

These rural communities have been impacted by successive years of drought, followed by the most devastating bushfires in a decade, and are now dealing with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. With the grant, Scouts NSW is in a much stronger position to support the increase of young people struggling with their mental health after an incredibly challenging year.

Neville Tomkins OAM JP, Chief Commissioner of Scouts NSW said that over the past 113 years, Scouting has been equipping young people with the resilience, self-confidence and skills to respond to whatever life throws at them. ‘The past 12 months have been particularly challenging for many people, not only in Scouting, but across the State, with the devastating bushfires of last summer compounded by the impact of COVID-19.

People in regional NSW particularly vulnerable

‘Young people and adults in regional NSW are particularly vulnerable to mental health issues right now, and it’s vital our Scout Leaders are equipped to support those who may be struggling. This grant will enable us to put 12 Scout Leaders through mental health first aid training, in turn helping thousands of people.’

Mental health first aid (MHFA) training improves knowledge of mental illness, treatment and appropriate first aid strategies and develops confidence in providing first aid to a person experiencing a mental health problem. Scouting volunteers will be trained in MHFA instruction as appropriate so that they can deliver MHFA courses throughout the bushfire affected areas in the state where Scouts operate.

Nathan Barker, Head of Community Investment at CommBank, the bank is  a long term supporter of communities impacted by natural disasters. ‘It’s been a challenging year and the tough task of rebuilding from our devastating 2019-20 bushfire season as well as preparing for the next season continues across the country. We are proud to have been able to ease the burden for many communities as they look ahead to long-term recovery.’

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