The announcement this week of an Australia Royal Commission into veteran and serving defence member suicides has prompted organisers of a motorcycle rally to amend their plans.
The planned rally on Saturday, 24 April at 11am on the steps of Parliament House in Melbourne will now become a vigil to “show respect to those veterans who have taken their lives and the family and friends affected”.
Motorcycle riders have had a long association with the defence forces in many countries. In fact, it was returned servicemen fromWorld War II who sought adrenalin and started many motorcycle clubs which are still going strong today.
Many returned servicemen find the camaraderie, adrenalin and mindfulness of riding to be helpful in handling post traumatic stress disorder.
Organisers say riders need to show the Federal Government that now that the Royal Commission is called they will be making sure “every stage is done properly including the follow-up of the terms of reference, recommendations followed up”.
The Black Dog Ride Australia (BDRA) organisation which raises awareness and funds for mental health issues this year installed a new leader and now needs three new board members.
West Australian automotive marketer Lawson Dixon took over in February as general manager of the Perth-based organisation which hosts annual rides to raise awareness of mental health issues.
BDRA was started by Steve Andrews after his solo ride around Australia in 2009. His shock retirement in 2017 was followed by a series of changes in leadership, board membership and administrative staff that the organisation admitted in 2019 had left them “in a state of flux”.
Now the organisation is seeking to fill its board wth professionals who are “genuinely committed to raise the awareness of mental health issues and suicide prevention”.
In a press statement, the BDR says they are “committed to diversity in the make-up of the board as well as the role that diversity plays in driving high performing and sustainable organisations.
If you are interested, the board needs candidates with skills in risk and safety management; PR, marketing and media; or sponsorship and fundraising.
Skills and experience in sponsorship and fundraising will also be highly regarded.
Board members should be aware that they may be financially and legally liable for board decisions.
To apply, send a covering letter detailing how you meet the criteria listed below and a copy of your resume no longer than three pages.
Applications must be received by email to [email protected] before 4pm on Friday 30 April 2021.
Knowledge of corporate governance and board processes;
An understanding of the NFP environment and working with volunteers;
A willingness to join and/or lead board committees;
An ability to constructively engage and build strong relationships with diverse stakeholders;
Excellent communication skills and strategic thinking;
A strong corporate ethics foundation;
Sound judgement, influencing, negotiating and decision-making skills;
A strong sense of connection with the mission of the organisation;
A collegiate and inclusive style; and
An individual who will invest time with the organisation and key staff. It is important that they have the commitment and capacity to strongly participate in and contribute to the board and the organisation’s next stage of development, as well as alignment with its culture.
Essential skills required in one or all the following areas:
Risk and safety management planning and implementation; or
Richard Brown of Black Dog Ride Australia says they are “focussing heavily on making sure that people who come on the ride feel very welcomed, and that they have fun”.
“Positive social connection/social relationships are very important when it comes to maintaining our mental health,” he says.
“We want this experience to be a good example of the spirit of mateship for all who participate.”
10 years on
Brian says the 10-year celebration dinner in Alice Springs should be “a real hoot”.
He says they don’t have the money for a “lavish” dinner, but participants will feel “a great sense of accomplishment for having made the journey”, formed “some really nice relationships” and “feel part of something really special”.
The following ride groups will join the Red Centre Ride:
The NSW/ACT ride group will travel through inland New South Wales, south through South Australia, and up the centre to Alice Springs.
WA and SA ride groups will both travel through their respective states, then meet up in Port Augusta to travel the rest of the way to Alice Springs as a combined group.
The Vic/Tas ride group will be travelling north through inland New South Wales and Queensland, then across to the Northern Territory and south to Alice Springs.
The Qld/NT ride group will travel through inland Queensland, then across to the Northern Territory, picking up Territorians before heading south to Alice Springs.
To register, go to the Black Dog Ride Red Centre 2020 page and click on the state or territory group you’d like to join.
“Our primary purpose is raising awareness of depression and suicide prevention, so we plan to focus heavily on this,” Richard says.
“That means riding into towns and either attending a pre-organised community events, or simply parking down a main street and talking with community. Often people wandering by will ask ‘what’s this all about?’ or ‘what’s with the stuffed dogs?’
“So our participants literally get talking about mental health. Between all our state groups there will be just over 160 different town stops along the way.”
There is no fundraising target and participants are not required to raise extra funds.
Over the past 10 years, more than $3million has been raised by Black Dog Ride with finds passed on to organisations such as Lifeline, Mental Health First Aid Australia and the Black Dog Institute, as well as many many small community based volunteer groups and not-for-profits.
Richard says they have new destinations in mind for future years, so 2020 could be the last opportunity to ride to the Red Centre for several years.
One of their more recent activities is the ride to the WSBK, costing $200-$440, depending on how many days you attend the event. Click here for the full details.
“There are two starting points at Marysville, Victoria, and Queanbeyan, ACT,” Bernie says.
“Both ride groups leave the Tuesday before the weekend and meet in Sale for a group dinner the Wednesday night before our group ride to Philip Island Thursday.
“The NSW group, takes a route over Mt Kosciusko through to Wodonga for a group and community dinner, and then over Hotham down to Sale. A wicked ride with some of the best roads and scenery.
“The Victorian group comes around Eildon, down through the King Valley to Bright.
“After a group and community dinner at Bright Hotel the next morning they head over the gap to Falls Creek, stopping at The Blue Duck Inn, before continuing down to Omeo, and then to Sale. Endless corners for the day.”
After lunch on Thursday at the Inline 4 Cafe, riders have exclusive access for a parade lap on the racetrack in the afternoon.
And who knows who they will meet!
Bernie says it is a “great mates’ escape” and fundraising is not their priority.
“Promoting a positive experience and facilitating an awesome group ride environment for riders is our goal,” he says.
“We also have a stand in the expo tent where we promote our rides and our charity message of raising awareness of depression and suicide prevention with positive messages and encouragement.
“We do a little tin rattling at the track over the weekend.
“Above all else, this ride’s priority is to promote positivity, an adrenaline injection, and a ride experience like no other.”