MUA Sydney Branch members Steven Heighes, David McElhinney and Darren Brown have done our union proud, completing a 14 day walk from the Gold Coast to Sydney on Friday, October 28.
The DP World wharfies walked over 60km a day, challenging themselves both physically and mentally, raising needed funds and awareness for Suicide Prevention Australia.
"Six years ago, I was in a dark place” said Heighes.
“Heaps of people helped me on the road to recovery, so it was time I gave a little back.
“As suicide affects us all, we wanted to stand up and make a real change.”
Visiting major cities and small country towns across QLD and NSW, the MUA wharfies had conversations with community members about mental health – breaking the stigma around suicide which is the biggest killer of Australian men aged 25 – 44 years.
Heighes says the role of education in the fight against depression is crucial, and can start at a young age.
“We walked past a school in Stroud, which is the middle of nowhere,” he said.
“Next thing we know, we are speaking to a school assembly of 20 kids, talking about suicide and mental illness.
"Those kids will go home and tell their parents, and that’s how the message gets out.”
The Sydney Branch sponsored the wharfies who helped raised over $50,000 for this important cause.
Branch Secretary Paul McAleer, Assistant Branch Secretary Paul Garrett, MUA Youth Activist Kerry Farrell and Harbour City Ferries worker Eben Kelk joined the last leg of the trip walking 40km from Avalon to Martin Place on Friday.
"The Sydney Branch has been actively involved in campaigns regarding awareness for suicide prevention for many years now" McAleer said.
"Suicide and mental illness is a scourge negatively impacting our communities and destroying families and the lives of those affected."
"As maritime workers and trade unionists, we recognise and understand the importance of highlighting these often ignored issues and doing what we can to try and overcome them."
The walkers were greeted at the Martin Place finish line by a strong turnout of MUA members.
The walk demonstrates the true spirit of our union.
“I always maintain that the best thing about being a maritime worker is that we help others,” Garrett said.
“When someone is down on their luck, start a conversation with them and ask them how they are doing and then listen.
“It just might be that conversation saves a life”.
A big thank you to everyone who donated and attended the event including: MUA Youth, MUA Veterans, Sydney Ferries, Svitzer, DP World and the CFMEU NSW Construction and General Branch.
You can still donate to the campaign, by clicking here: https://www.everydayhero.com.au/event/walkitoff
If you or somebody you know needs help, please contact Hunterlink on (02) 4929 - 6625.