Trekking Kokoda to raise funds for Mental Health Awareness

Having been an employee of Club Plus for nearly 6 years and being fortunate enough to be involved with clubs across the state that have supported so many great causes, I have reflected on what ways I could make a contribution.

The synergies between what Club Plus offers with income protection to staff, the fantastic work clubs do for those less fortunate, my resolve to play some part and the relentless work and contribution our ADF personnel make has led me to take on what is said to be a massive mental and physical challenge, The Kokoda Trek. Through the RSL & Services Association, I will head off to Kokoda and spend 10 days experiencing a small part of what our diggers lived through for nearly 4 months in 1942 at a cost of over 2,000 Australian lives and more than 3,000 injured.

My intention is to use the Kokoda trek as a platform to raise awareness about the broader mental health issues that confront workers in their day to day work. The Kokoda experience will at the very least provide me with some insight into the campaign, the mental challenges that our diggers had to deal with in their service and translate this back to the club industry. I hope to make our members, your staff aware that at Club Plus we are listening and care about their wellbeing and at the same time raise much needed funds back to our returned ADF personnel via the ‘Veterans Benevolent Fund’.

Any funds I raise will be directed back to the Veterans Benevolent Fund, I have chosen to fund the Kokoda trek personally and hope the funds raised can be successfully invested in veterans needs – health services, rehabilitation support and the critical area of mental health services and support to our returned ADF personnel. Leading up to August 5 when I leave for Kokoda, and, I hope for some time after I will be presenting to staff and employers across the state what Club Plus does for its members, specifically with our income protection and how it can support those that have not dealt with those mental health challenges that affect us all in some way.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that one of the greatest impediments to a strong and productivity workforce is the health of the employee and increasingly mental health is contributing to an increase in absenteeism. The statistics for mental health are concerning with 20% of Australians aged 16-85 experience mental health issues, what is even more alarming is that 54% of people with mental health issues do not seek treatment but live and function day to day without addressing their health concerns.

At Club Plus we offer a range of insurances and investment products that allows our members to not only retire on their own terms but to work towards this goal in the comfort and knowledge they and their families are adequately protected. Our income protection cover is particularly relevant in providing financial security in the event of sickness, illness or injury offering income replacement for as long as two years and allowing our members to concentrate on their health and not their financial commitments.

Income protection policies broadly speaking cover most illnesses however as premium cost pressures and claims frequency rises some insurance providers have made the decision to exclude mental health as part of their cover. At Club Plus we are no different in reviewing our insurance and experience the same pricing pressures however in response to the ever increasing need to support our members mental health we continue to provide cover in this strong area of need.

A report into our ADF personnel revealed that, upon leaving the force, 46 percent experienced some form of mental health problem within five years. The shocking statistic reveals even more compelling data that 1 in 5, that is 20% of ADF members have had suicidal thoughts, plans or sadly attempts. These numbers clearly show this group would benefit from proactive strategies that aim to lessen the burden of mental illness, in other words, more can be done in this space.

While mental health issues do not discriminate there are areas where by the nature of the work people do make them more exposed to falling ill. Emergency service workers, our service men and women and teachers are all important vocations that carry with it an increased risk of suffering from mental health issues. Club Plus works closely with all clubs and values the integral part clubs play in supporting worthy causes and their undying and relentless pursuit to make a difference to peoples lives. In the same way Club Plus wants to play its part raising awareness to members and employers about our income protection product and what part it can play in supporting those in our community that are suffering mental health issues.

More than 1 in 2 people go through life without seeking treatment and support for their mental health issues, continuing to work to meet financial commitments and unable to see their way clear to take time out for themselves. The incidence of members not knowing they have income protection cover let alone cover that extends to covering mental health is a compelling knowledge gap we want to address. Club Plus is seeking your support to establish a platform that can facilitate a greater awareness amongst Club Plus members and at the same time raising much needed funds to assist those in most need, our returned servicemen and women.

If you want to see Matt reach his goal to raise over $10,000 for the Veterans Benevolent Fund by Trekking Kokoda, please get in contact with Matt on the following details!

Matt Kilburn – Manager Partnerships and Growth | P: 0420 505 765 | E: matt.kilburn@clubplussuper.com.au