2017 Hawaiian Ride for Youth Launched: New Mid-West route, from Geraldton to Perth, announced

September 29th, 2016

The biggest charity event on Western Australia’s fundraising calendar – the award-winning Hawaiian Ride for Youth in support of Youth Focus – will include a Mid-West route in 2017 from Geraldton to Perth.

Next year’s Hawaiian Ride for Youth was launched last night and 2017 will mark the fifteenth anniversary of this iconic event, to be held from 21-25 March.

A total of 180 riders across 34 teams will cycle almost 3,000 kilometres on the three routes from Albany to Perth – Coastal, Inland and Wheatbelt – as well as the new Mid-West route.

Riders will visit 23 schools promoting positive mental health and awareness to more than 3,500 students.

Announcing the new route, Youth Focus CEO Fiona Kalaf said the 700  kilometre Mid-West ride would start from Geraldton and travel through Morawa, Dalwallinu, New Norcia, Toodyay, Northam and then onto Kings Park, over four and a half days.

“Youth Focus has strong connections with the Mid-West region through our work in the headspace office in Geraldton and in the general community,” Ms Kalaf said.

“We are delighted that a peloton of around six teams will ride the new route with cyclists raising awareness about our life-saving services, as well as raising funds for Youth Focus.”

About 40 riders will take part in the Mid-West ride, visiting two schools along the way and engaging with various community organisations about Youth Focus and the Ride.

Youth Focus is an independent Western Australian for purpose organisation that works to support young people aged 12-25 with mental health issues and to prevent suicide.

The Hawaiian Ride for Youth aims to raise awareness about Youth Focus and its services as well as raising funds to provide counselling for thousands of young people and their families state-wide.

“The statistics around suicide are alarming,” Ms Kalaf said.

“One Western Australian takes their own life every day including one young person under the age of 25 each week.

“That is why events like the Hawaiian Ride for Youth are so important in raising awareness about mental health issues as well as raising the funds needed to support vulnerable young people.”

Chairman of the Hawaiian Ride for Youth Organising Committee, Bruce Fielding, said the most significant aspect about the Ride was the passion of participants.

“Without the riders and the support crews, and their incredible commitment to planning, recruiting, fundraising, training and taking a week out of their lives to do the Ride, Youth Focus would not have as much capacity as it does to help young Western Australians,” Mr Fielding said.

The Hawaiian Ride for Youth also includes the CEO Challenge which enables CEOs and company owners to take part in the final 80 kilometre leg of the Ride from Mandurah to Kings Park.

The event has raised more than $15 million since it started in 2003 with $10 million raised in the past five years alone.

Future Generation Investment Fund donates $116,000

September 28th, 2016

Youth Focus is pleased to announce that it has received a donation of almost $116,000 from shareholders of the Future Generation Investment Fund (FGX).

A partner of Youth Focus since 2015, FGX is committed to making a difference to the lives of Australian children with a focus on children at risk.  A unique aspect of the investment fund, FGX has a charitable goal of providing a source of funding to a number of designated charities.

With increased funding for the 2017 financial year, Youth Focus will assist more young people and families in Western Australia with face-to-face individual and family counselling dealing with mental health issues including depression, anxiety, self-harm and thoughts of suicide.

FGX contributed $88,000 to Youth Focus services last financial year.  The donation was utilised to fund a Youth Focus counsellor based at its Burswood office.  The counsellor provided intensive and ongoing face-to-face counselling to more than 60 young people aged 12-25 from the Burswood office and at a number of schools.

Youth Focus thanks FGX’s shareholders for their generosity in assisting young West Australians.

Read more about FGX here.

Workplaces must take more responsibility on mental health

September 7th, 2016

Western Australian organisations must take more responsibility for mental health in the workplace, Youth Focus CEO Fiona Kalaf said today.

“One in five Australians will experience mental health problems each year but too many organisations still don’t recognise the problem or know how to deal with it,” Ms Kalaf said.

“Australian research from 2008 shows that nearly half of all senior managers believe none of their workers will experience a mental health problem at work.

“And while awareness about mental health issues in the workplace is increasing, change is simply not happening fast enough.”

Ms Kalaf was speaking before the start of Lavan Legal Fit30 for Youth Focus challenge which encourages people to exercise 30 minutes a day every day during September and raise funds.

She said organisations needed to realise that most workers could successfully manage a mental illness without it impacting on their work.

“However, a lack of understanding or an unhealthy work environment can cause considerable distress and exacerbate or contribute to the development of mental illness,” Ms Kalaf said.

“Therefore, employers have a responsibility to understand the impact of mental illness in the workplace as employees have the right to be supported.”

Ms Kalaf said creating a safe and healthy workplace made good business sense.

“Twenty five per cent of Australian workers take time off for stress each year with $10 billion per annum being paid out in stress-related workers’ compensation claims,” she said.

“So if you have a healthy, supportive work environment you should have healthy, happy staff.”

Ms Kalaf said the link between physical and mental health was well documented and showed that people with poor physical health tended to feel more psychological distress than did healthy people.

“During September I am urging workplaces to get on board with Lavan Legal Fit30 and encourage their staff to take part – either individually or through team activities,” she said.

“And it doesn’t matter what activity people do – any exercise will assist in supporting healthy bodies and minds.”

Register for the 30 day challenge or donate to the Youth Focus team at https://www.everydayhero.com.au/event/2016LavanLegalFit30forYouthFocus.

Youth Focus Board appointment

September 7th, 2016

Belinda Lonsdale has been appointed to the Board of Youth Focus as the Hawaiian Ride for Youth rider representative.

Belinda is a barrister with Albert Wolff Chambers and has been practising law since 2003. Belinda’s experience with the Ride will be vital in guiding the development of the Ride as will her professional experience in helping to guide Youth Focus’ sustainability and growth initiatives.

Belinda said: “Over the years I have come to understand just how important the Ride for Youth is to sustaining the work of Youth Focus – not only by providing invaluable financial support but by fostering good relations with the community and those clients for whom Youth Focus exists. I am a barrister who is passionate about issues of social justice, particularly surrounding issues of mental health and disadvantage and I hope my experience in this regard will be invaluable to help guide Youth Focus to assist as many young people in need as possible.”

Belinda will replace Charles Elders, who steps down on 31 August.  Charles is the Managing Director of Avoca Insurance which has sponsored the Hawaiian Ride for Youth since 2006.

We sincerely thank Charles for his incredible commitment to the Board over the last six years and welcome Belinda in her new role.

Belinda Lonsdale












Funding announcement of more than $123,000 to Youth Focus to support Ellenbrook youth

September 4th, 2016

Youth Focus CEO Fiona Kalaf said today the organisation was pleased with the Liberal National Government’s funding announcement of $123,200 to provide potentially lifesaving services to young people in Ellenbrook and surrounding areas.

Ms Kalaf was commenting after Youth Minister Tony Simpson made the announcement today (September 1).

Mr Simpson said the grant would support the Ellenbrook Enhanced Youth Services Project which aimed to provide a range of youth mental health, counselling, family and education services to the local community.

The project will be managed by Youth Focus which is an independent Western Australian for purpose organisation that works to prevent youth suicide through preventative and educational programs for 12 to 25 year olds.

Youth Focus will collaborate with existing service providers in the community to deliver services, including school support and youth workers.

“This project reflects the Youth Focus ethos that a multi-pronged approach is necessary to improve mental health and life outcomes for young people as well as to be effective in reducing youth suicide,” Ms Kalaf said.

“The cause of suicidal ideation and behaviour, self-harming and associated mental health concerns are complex and include psychological, biological and environmental factors.

“Youth Focus, with the support from the Department of Local Government and Communities and its partners, will work with young people, families, teachers and school support staff, parents, service providers and community groups.

“This will ensure there is a comprehensive strategy that will build capacity and provide a community owned safety net for those young people and families at risk,” she said.

The following key elements will be implemented in partnership with headspace Midland and the City of Swan:

  • Individual counselling support for young people referred with concerns regarding suicidal ideation and/or behaviours, non-suicidal self-injury and associated mental health concerns.
  • Family counselling for families of those young people seen by a Youth Focus counsellor.
  • Education for students, school support staff, parents/carers and community service providers on youth mental health first aid and mental health first aid and/or relevant psychosocial-education.
  • The rolling out a Young Men’s Project workshop for young men in the community.
  • Building links with service providers that connect young people and families with the services they require.

9 ways to be more active during 9-5

August 24th, 2016

While it can be difficult to fit in a gym session around work, there are some simple ways you can get moving throughout the day.  

To achieve good health, experts recommend walking at least 10,000 steps a day. For those who work in sedentary office jobs, this can sometimes seem like a challenge.  However, there are plenty of ways to be more active in the workplace. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

1. Have standing or walking meetings

A walking meeting can be a great way to get things done while getting in a little physical activity.  The change of pace and scenery encourages more creativity and free-flowing conversation.

2. Walk or ride to work

If you can bike or walk to work, this can be an excellent way to fit more activity into your day – and you’ll arrive feeling fresh and energised, with a clear mind.  If you don’t live close enough, there are still ways to make a least part of your commute more active.  Try a few things and see what works for you.

3. Volunteer for the coffee run

Go out and get your coffee, tea or smoothie.  Taking a stroll with colleagues is an easy way to relax, socialise and get in some more physical activity.

4. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes

Studies have shown that when you wear comfortable clothes and shoes to work you are more likely to be more active, and more productive.

Join in the inaugural Activewear to Work Day on Thursday, 1 September 2016.

5. Try a standing desk

If it’s possible in your office, standing up to work can have many benefits.  Standing uses more muscles and burns more calories than sitting – and it can be great for your back and posture.

6. Walk instead of emailing

Use every opportunity you have to get up from your desk.  The steps all add up, and it gives you the extra benefit of having some social interaction.

7. Get moving at lunch time

Take a lunchbreak.  Having a break during the day is beneficial for your mental health and wellbeing, and it’s also a good opportunity to stretch and get active.

8. Use the stairs

Make taking the stairs a habit, so you stop thinking about it as a choice you have to make every time.

9. Take regular breaks

Put time in your calendar or set an alarm to remind you to take a break – then get up and go for a short walk around the building, or up and down the stairs.  It doesn’t need to be for long – just make sure you take a 5-10 minute break a few times throughout the day.

Sport greats fight it out for fitness

August 24th, 2016

Perth Wildcats basketball vice-captain Greg Hire and West Coast Fever netball star Courtney Bruce are fighting it out for fitness every day during September.

Greg, 28, of Edgewater and Courtney, 22, of Tuart Hill have taken up the Lavan Legal Fit30 for Youth Focus challenge to exercise 30 minutes a day every day during September and raise funds for Youth Focus.

Both sports legends are Ambassadors for Youth Focus which works to prevent suicide in young people.

“When I started as an Ambassador four years ago, the emphasis was on breaking down the stigma around mental health,” Courtney said.

“Now there is more a focus on talking about mental health issues, including in the netball world.”

Greg agreed saying the focus had also changed to prevention and education.

“The Lavan Legal Fit 30 challenge is a fantastic concept as there is such an important link between mental health and physical health,” he said.

“It is also important that the challenge will enable people to raise funds for counselling services and programs which are integral to the development of vulnerable kids.”

Youth Focus CEO Fiona Kalaf said the involvement of the two sports’ stars was valuable for fostering robust discussions about youth mental health.

“One person dies every day from suicide in Australia with one person under 25 dying every week,” Ms Kalaf said.

“Every year, Youth Focus helps about 2,000 young Western Australians address issues associated with depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicidal thoughts and we need community support for these life-saving vital services to continue.”

Courtney said the Fit30 challenge would involve a bit of “friendly rivalry” between her and Greg but this type of “rivalry” was positive.

“With Fit30, people should challenge each other and see who can become the fittest and the strongest in 30 days,” she said.

“And of course, everyone knows that netballers are fitter and stronger than basketballers…”

As the Fever are in the off-season, Courtney plans to run, row and take up yoga pilates for her challenge as well as raising more than $1000.

Greg is in mid-season training and will also do yoga to “connect the body with the mind” and whatever Courtney raises, “I will raise a dollar more.”

“And the Wildcats have won more premierships than Fever so that says something,” he said.

To mark the first day of the Lavan Legal Fit30, Youth Focus is calling on all Western Australians to put on exercise gear for ACTIVEWEAR to WORK DAY which aims to raise awareness of physical health, mental health and overall wellbeing in the workplace.

Register for the 30 day challenge or donate to the Youth Focus team at https://www.everydayhero.com.au/event/2016LavanLegalFit30forYouthFocus and join in the inaugural Activewear to Work Day on Thursday, September 1.

Fit 30 1
















Youth Focus Ambassadors West Coast Fever star Courtney Bruce (left) and Perth Wildcats vice-captain Greg Hire have taken up the challenge of getting fit for 30 minutes a day and raising funds during the Lavan Legal Fit30 for Youth Focus in September. They are pictured with Youth Focus CEO Fiona Kalaf.

Partnerships connecting Youth Focus with more Western Australians

July 22nd, 2016

Horizon Power has been a dedicated partner of Youth Focus for many years. This partnership has enabled Youth Focus to connect with more Western Australians and bring about positive change for young people. Last financial year, Horizon Power providing funding to deliver mental health education to schools in regional areas including Dongara, Esperance, Karratha and Port Hedland, reaching more than 500 students, teachers and parents.

Attendees were educated on factors surrounding mental illness, depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts, and provided information and resources on where to get help for themselves and others. A testament to the importance of mental health education, all post-education session evaluations show marked positive increases in understanding of mental health and help-seeking behaviours.

If your workplace is interested in creating a meaningful partnership with Youth Focus, please get in touch at getinvolved@youthfocus.com.au