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Mountain bike challenge for youth mental health

A Mount Claremont man has braved torrential rain, wild winds and freezing temperatures to complete a solo off-road mountain bike ride, raising money for Youth Focus counselling and mental health support services.

Justin Williams took up the gruelling 11-day trek of WA’s Munda Biddi Trail on June 14, riding more than 1000km from Albany to arrive in Mundaring on June 24.

In the process, he has raised more than $3000 for Youth Focus. A self-confessed “non mountain biker”, Mr Williams had only cycled 50km twice until four weeks before his first ever ride of the arduous Munda Biddi Trail, which is considered the longest track of its kind in the world.

He said the ride had not been without its challenges, enduring two stormfronts and injury.

“With the high winds, branches were just dropping from trees, and the track was littered with debris and fallen trees, so I had to make some detours to make sure I stayed safe,” he said.

“I injured myself on day four because I was caught in a horrendous storm but pushed on in the freezing cold. My tendons didn’t like that so I had to lower my seat and pedal on the arches of my feet for four days.”

Mr Williams said he wanted to fundraise for mental health support after serving almost three decades in the military and seeing many of his colleagues face such challenges.

“I served 28 years in the military so I’m no stranger to self-imposed or institutionally-imposed physical or mental hardship,” he said.

“I left the military last year and set up a consulting firm providing individual and team performance coaching. Due to COVID-19, consultants were basically first off the corporate team sheets so I found myself falling back into exercise as a coping mechanism.

“I then realised I could put the exercise to good use and raise some money for mental health organisations.

“Not before time, mental health awareness is increasing and it is more acceptable to seek help. Of course, being in the military, I have lots of friends who have experienced mental health challenges so it’s an issue very close to my heart.

“I was drawn to Youth Focus because of its proactive approach in helping young people. Early intervention is so important.”

Youth Focus Chief Executive Officer Arthur Papakotsias said supporters, like Mr Williams, were invaluable in helping the organisation in its important work to prevent youth suicide.

“We congratulate Justin for an outstanding personal achievement, and thank him for mounting such a remarkable feat to raise funds for Youth Focus. This will help us continue to provide counselling and mental health support for young people in WA.

“We value greatly community members, like Justin, who selflessly give up their time and energy to fundraise to benefit the lives of young people in our community.”

Last financial year, Youth Focus supported a record number of young people aged between 12 and 25 in WA, providing free counselling and assessment services to 4,559 young people and school and community education to another 6,800.

Youth Focus provides counselling and outreach services including suicide prevention education in schools and the community; and web-counselling to regional and remote parts of the state.

To read more about Justin’s journey go to:

To donate to Justin’s fundraising efforts, visit:


Nicole Cox – 0419 941 443
[email protected]