A new drought initiative has been created, providing young people living on drought-affected farms across the Murrumbidgee a break for a weekend adventure to the New South Wales and Victorian high country.
The Giz a Break's Drought Initiative program is funded under the Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network’s (MPHN) inaugural Pitch Night will provide up to 40 young people aged 14–17 years from a drought-affected farm in the Murrumbidgee region with an opportunity to partake in one of four off-road adventures scheduled to run between November 2019 and April next year.
Giz a Break’s co-founders Soenke Tremper and Daniel Thomson saw the impacts of drought on their rural communities and after learning the UNICEF Drought Report identified young people as a vulnerable group being impacted by the drought, they knew they had to do something.
The free Giz a Break program would include activities like four-wheel driving, hiking, camping and fishing, but the duo are calling for the community to get involved with the program.
“The program is designed for the young people to work on strategies to tackle challenging situations together, which will help them take their mind off the dry times at home and build long-term resilience,” Mr Tremper said.
“What’s really important is that we don’t offer a generic program and instead work with a community to design and implement it,” Mr Tremper said.
“We’re fortunate, Daniel is a dietitian by trade, so he will be able to help guide the participants with healthy camp cooking skills, and while we have an itinerary in mind and our equipment is at the ready, we’re really keen to work with local young people, volunteers, and schools to make sure the program meets their needs.
“We’re now calling for expressions of interest from drought-affected communities located within the Murrumbidgee region. In particular we are looking for volunteers with 4WDs, and help identifying young people in need of this adventure,” he said.
MPHN CEO Melissa Neal said building resilience and fostering positive mental health and wellbeing are critical for anyone, but for young people living with the impacts of drought, this initiative provide a unique opportunity.
“We know the impacts of drought go beyond the farmer and the adults in a farming family, and this program aimed at supporting the young members of a farming family is exciting,” Ms Neal said.
“Both Daniel and Soenke pitched their Giz a Break program at our inaugural Pitch Night in April, and the crowd pledged more than $40,000 to see this initiative come to the Murrumbidgee region.
“After they pitched many people pledged in-kind support, like medical support to allow children with a health condition to participate, assistance with insurances, offers of 4WD vehicles, and I know once more people in our region learn about this initiative, there will be more volunteers and young people interested in supporting Giz a Break,” she said.
All expressions of interest can be downloaded from www.gizabreak.com.au - you have until 30 September 2019.
If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health emergency should call the Mental Health Line 1800 011 511, Lifeline 13 11 14 or call 000. Or to access the Head to Health website visit www.headtohealth.org.au.