We are travelling around Australia with our children (12, 8, 6, 6) and Paul’s Mental Health Assistance Dog (Luna) raising much needed funds and awareness of Lifeline Australia and mindDog Australia. We have official written authorisation from both organisations to raise funds for them (see a copy of the authority letters in the attached Sponsorship Proposal).
Both of these organisations are Not for Profit and are in desperate need of more money to help them to continue their great work for the Australian community. Our target is to raise a minimum of $200,000 and to have enriched more than 1 million people’s lives by giving them potentially life saving information.
Lifeline Australia (www.lifeline.org.au)
Lifeline is a national charity providing all Australians experiencing a personal crisis with access to 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.
Somewhere in Australia there is a new call to Lifeline every minute. People call Lifeline about:
• Suicidal thoughts or attempts
• Personal crisis
• Abuse and trauma
• Stresses from work, family or society
• Self-help information for friends and family
Suicide remains the leading cause of death for Australians aged between 15 and 44. The overall suicide rate in 2014 was 12.0 per 100,000 in Australia. This is the highest rate in 10 years. The most recent Australian data (ABS, Causes of Death, 2014) reports deaths due to suicide in 2014 at 2,864. This equates to almost eight deaths by suicide in Australia each day. Most deaths by suicide in Australia are males, accounting for about three-quarters. However, during the past decade, there has been an increase in suicide deaths by females.
The suicide rate within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is more than double the national rate. In 2014, suicide accounted for 5.2% of all Indigenous deaths compared to 1.8% for non-Indigenous people.
For every death by suicide, it is estimated that as many as 30 people attempt to end their lives. That is approximately 65,300 suicide attempts each year.
mindDog Australia (www.minddog.org.au)
mindDog Australia is a not-for-profit organisation that exists to help people procure, train and accredit psychiatric assistance dogs. A mindDog comes in many shapes and sizes, and may look different to other assistance dogs experienced by the public previously. Clients of mindDog are supported to find a suitable dog, train and eventually pass a public access test. Just like other assistance dogs mindDogs are required access to public spaces in order to fulfill their duties.
An assistance dog (also known as a service dog) is covered by the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992. An assistance dog is trained to assist their handler in public and is guaranteed access to all public places including shopping centres, hospitals, public transport and restaurants. According to this Act, an assistance dog is trained to alleviate the effect of a disability and must meet standards of hygiene and behaviour.
These dogs assist people with mental health disorders whose lives are often severely compromised by anxiety and fear. With their mindDog they are able to travel on public transport, access public places and take part in social activities which have been closed off to them.
mindDogs Australia operates solely by donations received and by their volunteers (no paid staff).
The “Black Dog” mentioned in the title of this event refers to Depression. The phrase was referred to by Winston Churchill who mentioned several times about having the Black Dog on his back.
We will be travelling in a four wheel drive with an off-road camper trailer/roof tent for us to sleep in. This setup will allow us to travel to more remote communities, and we plan to cover a significant part of Australia.
Paul is currently suffering from PTSD, Severe Depression and Anxiety. As a result of his situation, Paul has a Mental Health Assistance Dog. Without Luna, Paul cannot go out into the community. Traveling with Luna has highlighted the fact that the Australian Public in general do not know what a Mental Health Assistance Dog is and what access rights they have. Part of this event is to educate communities about these dogs.
We have seen how much Luna has helped Paul, so we want to raise as much funds as possible so that mindDog Australia can continue their service to the community. Unfortunately mindDog has had to close applications for 12 month due to being overwhelmed with requests for assistance. The money raised through our cause will help pay for staff, to purchase dogs, train the dogs and purchase equipment.
With Paul’s condition, he has been suicidal, and having organisations such as Lifeline available 24/7 has been lifesaving. Unfortunately the government has recently cut funding to Lifeline meaning that they may not be able to keep a 24/7 presence.
Paul has been involved as a volunteer and paid member of Emergency Services throughout Australia for the last 27 years in roles from general local volunteer through to state level Manager. Over this time, Paul has seen many of his colleagues suffer from Depression, Anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, attempted and successful Suicide. In 2004 Paul was nominated for Australian of the Year for his services to the community. Paul really wants to educate communities and volunteer groups about the help that is available to them, and hopefully save lives along the way.
Through Paul’s previous fundraisers he has had several people message him stating that it was through his education through their community group that they went and sought help, saving their lives. This is testament about how effective Paul is as an educator.
Driving Oz with the Black Dog is a registered business (ABN: 32 921 499 228)
Look for our website/blog at www.drivingozblackdog.com :)