Benalla Ensign

All Blacks to host mental health night

- By James Kleeman

Benalla All Blacks will host a mental health presentati­on at the club this month, with Benalla-product Tom Downie headlining the speaker list.

Downie will speak at the event alongside Professor Rosemary Purcell, who is head of Elite Sports and Mental Health at Orygen (Australia’s National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health).

Purcell, a registered psychologi­st and professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Melbourne, has an extensive background in mental health in sport, and is currently a member of the Internatio­nal Olympic Committee’s Mental Health Working Group, which is a leader in the promotion of mental well-being in Olympic sports.

Downie, who grew up in Benalla, was drafted by Greater Western Sydney in 2011 and played several games for the Giants before retiring in 2017.

Since then, he has taken on a role as a youth worker and speaker for Beyond Blue, while playing for Williamsto­wn in the VFL.

Paul O’Brien, treasurer at the All Blacks, said he expected the event to benefit people from all background­s in the wider community, not just of a sporting nature.

“We saw it as an opportunit­y to get a different feel and hear from someone with expertise through Dr Purcell,” O’Brien said.

“Obviously Tom’s a Benalla boy and has a lot of experience in the area.”

Although there will be prominent sport focus, O’Brien said he was expecting a range of topics surroundin­g mental health to be discussed.

“We think it’s a good thing for our community and the wider community as well, it’s not just for the football club and those in sport.”

The free event will be held on Thursday, March 10 at 7.30pm at Benalla All Blacks’ social rooms on Ackerly Ave.

 ?? ?? Hometown hero: Benalla’s Tom Downie (pictured playing for GWS in 2015) will speak at a mental health night at Benalla All Blacks this month.
Hometown hero: Benalla’s Tom Downie (pictured playing for GWS in 2015) will speak at a mental health night at Benalla All Blacks this month.

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