Kikkert Kicks 4 a Cause

Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Young men are strongly represented in a number of worrying community statistics. For example, school dropout rates for boys are nearly double those of girls. Nationally, young men are overrepresented in the juvenile justice system by a ratio of 9 to 1. In the latest year for which we have ABS statistics, fully three-quarters of those who died from intentional self-harm were men. Suicide is the leading cause of death for young men, a dark shadow that follows them well into adulthood, remaining number one in every male cohort from age 15 up to age 44.

Menslink got their start here in Canberra as a young men’s support network under the umbrella of the Woden Community Centre. In 2002, they became an independent organisation dedicated to meeting the increasing needs of young men and their families in our community. They do this by running education sessions at schools and other community settings to teach young men that it’s OK to speak up and get help, by providing short-term counselling to help boys get through stressful events in life, and by providing longer term mentoring support from positive male role models. This latter can be especially important for the 17 per cent of young men who have no father in the home.

I rise today, Madam Speaker, to thank Martin Fisk, CEO of Menslink, and all who work alongside him for their tireless dedication to helping Canberra’s young men. Their ultimate goal is to help these youth identify their own options for the future and to discover that doors are open to them when they have lost all other hope. Each time Menslink succeed, they help turn around some of the grim statistics that I quoted earlier.

I also wish to thank the men behind Kick2Kick4aCause – Matt, Adam, Dave, Anthony and Paul – who once again this year partnered with Menslink to help them try to raise $100,000 to be used to support the important work that they do. Kick to Kick is an AFL-inspired activity that, just as its names suggests, involves kicking a football back and forth between two players. The goal of the fundraiser – besides seeking sponsors and raising funds – was to keep a single game of Kick to Kick going for a solid 24 hours, from 4pm on Saturday, 16 March, to 4pm the following day.

It was my privilege, Madam Speaker, to support this effort. I not only attended the launch on Saturday but was back again at 6:00 Sunday morning to kick the ball. That seemed like an awfully early start to me, so I was deeply impressed, touched and grateful for all the participants who had spent the night on Deakin Oval in the rain to keep the game going … and for all those who turned out to lend their support and encouragement over the course of the 24-hour period. Some might think this sounds like an ordeal, but I think everyone was having too much fun to see it that way.

I am happy to report that the fundraising goal of $100,000 was reached. I express my thanks to all who donated as well as to the event’s many local sponsors. I also extend special thanks to the wives of the Kick2Kick organisers for all they did to support and run the event. Menslink are an important part of our community, Madam Speaker, and I encourage all Canberrans to learn more about what they do and then support them in their efforts.

Thank you.

#Community #Adjournment #Youth #Family

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