In a combined meeting with the Rotary Club of Moreland we heard from Rosemary Freeman, District 9790 representative with Australian Rotary Health. Australian Rotary Health is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

Rosemary told us mental health issues are the third leading cause of disability in Australia. 14% of children under 14 will experience a mental health issue.

In 2000 Australian Rotary Health (ARH) changed its research focus to mental health. Betty Kitchener, a nurse, had received a research grant just prior to 2000. Suffering from depression, her husband psychiatrist looked at first aid courses and questioned why there was no mental health component. The outcome was the Mental Health First Aid program, now running in over 30 countries.

In 2012 ARH shifted focus to mental health research for young Australians and mental health in young people. Laura Hart, a multiple recipient of ARH research grants now doing post-doctoral fellowship work, developed the ‘healthy body healthy mind’ program aimed at younger people. Jane Hurkus, who received a grant in 200, studied effects of media reporting of suicides. Her findings have been taken up by Australian Government and informed the current guidelines on media reporting of suicide.

The Board of ARH is made up of past district governors. Each Director is responsible for 2 districts. The Board also has District Governor-elects and nominees to provide continuity.

In 2021 there were 16 research grants of up to $70,000 per year. This year ARH has awarded three post-doctoral scholarships up to $75k per year and six nursing scholarships of $12k per year. One rural medical scholarship this year is for a student to complete placement in a rural environment. There are 80 indigenous health scholars in Australia this year. Despite donations falling this year, $2.8 million has been allocated to fund on-going scholarships. $66-77,000 per year is contributed from District 9790.

Rosemary highlighted Oct 10 is world mental health day. RC Moreland this year is running the first Lift the Lid walk in our district. Will be held on Oct 10. It will be a walk in your local neighbourhood in covid–safe groups, distance of your choice and time of your choice. Register from 24 Sep via RC Moreland.  Click on this link to register