In this week’s episode, Josh chats with Neeka Zand who was the winner of the 2023 Spirit Super Connecting Communities Award at the 7News Young Achiever Awards in Western Australia.
Neeka is the daughter of Iranian political refugees, and through her upbringing she has become passionate about ensuring equitable access to appropriate well-being support. She has a background in Psychology and Business and is currently the Youth Advocate on the Menal Health Commission’s Multicultural Committee. She aims to amplify the voices of young people and people from multicultural communities, in the mental health space, and reduce the stigma that can still exist around mental ill health.
After a personal experience speaking with a young person at risk, Neeka led the development of Right By You; a youth peer-to-peer suicide prevention website to help young people develop the skills and confidence to respond and help a friend in need.
If you enjoy the Inspirational Australian’s Podcast, we’d love it if you could subscribe, rate and review. Find out how here.
Connect on instagram: @neeka_zand
Welcome to Inspirational Australians, where we share stories of Australians making a difference in their communities and in the lives of others. We at inspirational Australians acknowledge the Wurundjeri and Bunurong people of Kulin Nation as the traditional owners and custodians of the lands and waterways on which this podcast is produced. We pay our respect to elders, past and present, and those who are emerging and extend our respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. At Inspirational Australians, we are inspired by the world’s oldest living culture and pay homage to their rich storytelling history. When we share stories on our podcast.
Thank you, Annette. It’s great to be back doing the inspirational Australians podcast and to
kick things off for twenty twenty three. We’re featuring some amazing winners from our seven years young achiever awards,
and specifically wanting to shout out to Spirit Super who’s sponsoring this episode. And I had
a great initiative to feature all the winners from the young achiever awards and Spirit Super are
a national sponsor. So it will be fantastic to look at the various winners from
right around Australia and find out what they’re doing
a little bit more. So as I said, this episode is brought to you by spirit Super,
the Super fund for hard working Australians. Apart from being one of australia’s
easiest to deal with Super is also the proud sponsor of the young Australian
achiever. What’s right across the nation. That’s because as
a Super fund spirit Super knows the importance of investing in your future. More importantly,
they’re committed to using your hard earned Super savings to invest in initiatives that build
a brighter future for us all. Whether it’s celebrating our community champions with supporting local businesses,
technology and innovation spirit Super is helping make a real difference. So if you’re looking for
a Super fund that’s invested in you and your future, it all starts with spirit. More info, good, a spirit,
Super dot.com. Today you consider the PDS and teamed spirit supercom, that they use slash PDS before making
a decision. Issuer is motor trade association of Australia, Superannuation fund,
PTT PD, while healthy. The advice is provided by quadrant first PDA. otv quite a little disclaimer there,
but I must say spirit’s Super are excellent at always providing those little
details and kind of flag with us. You know, there’s a few things I have to do as
a Super fund. But as I said back to today’s episode, I’m here with a guest who’s really done
a lot to be here because she’s skipped lunch.
She’s left work early and so I’m
really appreciative to Neeka Zand for joining us. And before I throw it away, I’ll quickly say
a few words about Neeka. So Neeka advocates for increasing wellbeing spaces. And
after speaking with people at risk naked, initiated and led right by you
a youth peer to peer suicide prevention website. To help young people develop the
skills and confidence to respond and help a friend in need. Neeka developed, the aftercare supports following
a suicide attempt booklet. She also led the cultural conversations born last year in twenty twenty two. So tell us
a little more about all that wonderful stuff. Welcome Neeka. Hello, how that lunch going?
No, yes, it is really good. Thank you so much for talking. You remember
what have you made
I have made a selection of dumplings and some potatoes. And as I was saying everything I could
find in my pantry. So it’s actually much better than I planned. So it’s a good, it’s a good afternoon.
Nice. Well, thanks for making time on your day today. So you said you had to leave, you know,
rush out of work. So what is it that you do for your employment?
Yeah, so I work as a suicide prevention coordinator, and that’s in the mental health commission’s suicide prevention framework. And
which has suicide prevention coordinators all across w-a. So I look over the Perth
Metro East and my team which is at my office,
looks at the North Metro and South
Metro. And our goal is to increase communities
capacity to respond to suicide. And so some of those projects that you mentioned were actually thankfully,
a part of the work that I do and making sure that I can find out what community
needs are and actually respond to the way that community works best for themselves.
Yeah, it sounds like it could be quite intense work at times.
Yeah, yeah, it can be, I think the first thing anyone says as soon as they find out the title,
suicide prevention co-ordinator is all sounds really difficult that you are okay. And normally followed by
a story themselves that they have gone through or know someone has gone through.
But I find that the prevention work in which we’re focusing on in my role it’s,
it’s really is really purpose driven. And I feel like it gives
a lot of it. Yeah. It’s not, it’s not a status of it sounds
a heartbreaking. I mean it’s heartbreaking. It’s some of the stories that we come across and,
but we’re in the position where we’re advocating to make sure that those stories
that did happen don’t happen again. So it’s more of
a hopeful sort of stance to being in the, in the world of suicide.
Yeah, that’s really interesting and very refreshing take on on that and Yeah,
So was that something that you were always interested in?
You know, you fall into this type of work or how it had to start for you?
Yeah, no I definitely, when I was younger, I wasn’t thinking that one day I can’t wait to be
a suicide prevention coordinator. But for first show,
I think when I was in high school, I did notice that something that I cared
a bit too much about for a high school student was other people’s mental health status. And so it was
something that I actually had quite a few peers telling me maybe I should be
a psychologist and I thought it was wild that people are getting paid for doing
something that I was doing for free. So obviously not to the same level,
not clinical. You know, you go to a clinical specialist, but I thought that sounds like
a great idea. And I studied psych and I was doing some volunteering,
work on the side with some refugee kids in the Perth Metro area. And I was just
a mess. So I just realized after I was with the
kids, I would just go home. I was,
I can’t handle this, there’s so much that needs to be done on
a systems level. I need to get on to that
. I need to advocate for policy. I need to
advocate for the things that need to happen to make sure that they’re not in as
distressing situations. So I kind of ended up doing
a lot more volunteering in that sort of systemic advocacy project management
roles that I accidently just realized I was could get
a pay job in that eventually. So I left psych behind I did do my undergrad of course in it,
but realize I was like there’s some higher level things that I need to do before I
potentially get tired enough to go back into the clean world.
Yep. Well, did that kind of base give you, you know,
a really good platform though to move into this area of advocacy?
Yeah, yeah. I mean, definitely, and I get
a lot of questions about how I did get into this role because it is really
rewarding and it’s, it’s something that if you really, really care about you,
you will do well.
I didn’t realize, and I think a lot of people, young people,
that you don’t realize that this sort of roles exist. And I guess because I was,
and I always say that younger people,
especially we know what you need for your studying to do volunteering that you’re
passionate about. And when you’re volunteering like I first started volunteering at
St. Vincent de Paul and would start in a community there and,
and stuff and push for initiatives to happen. And then Amnesty International as
well. And I’d be like we really actually need to have this and also push for other
more initiatives to happen. And then next minute I realized, I mean,
I didn’t even realize probably for the first five years that what I was doing was
project management. And so I think and then because of that experience, even though that was all unpaid, I honestly,
I even say the role that I’m doing now I would have, I probably should have,
but I would have done it for free because it’s, it’s,
and I thank God I’m not because I need to pay for my dawdling, but no,
definitely. I think when you volunteer and you realize that that is something that
you do have the capacity to do and you do have the passion to do for sure. I ended
up being, having enough work experience to actually then apply for a job as
a project officer and my next jump off of that was this one.
this job volunteering is one of those things, obviously,
so many organizations rely on it. And so many communities rely on their volunteers,
but it can be difficult to have that a sustainable you know, a role as
a volunteer because they’re not getting paid at any moment. They might have to say, well,
I can’t do it anymore. I have to go and
sort out my finances. So to have these paid
roles, as you said, and people may not realize I exist. So what have them?
Yeah, actually you know, even looking back,
I don’t know how much I would recommend that you have to be Super passionate about
it because I would be studying and then working at ice cream shop and then
volunteering on the side and it was very exhausting. But that’s how you have to it
has to be like a hobby. You have to be Super,
Super passionate about it. But it’s definitely not for everyone, but Yeah,
yeah. Did you ever have temptations to just like, you know, throw it in and do normal young person stuff?
I mean, to me, it was socializing. I mean, you end up like
a lot of the friends that I have now are people that were also really passionate
about social justice and systemic advocacy. So you know,
it end up and all the work that we were doing. It felt like
a social gathering. It felt like we were having a good time,
even though we also were probably doing productive things on the side of that time.
But definitely, I think as I got older,
I could see the amount of hours I was putting in per week to volunteering,
definitely decrease. And for a good reason,
I think it’s really hard. And that’s why it’s good when you make friends in the
area to learn from each other and notice the other ones burning out. And then you realize, hey,
I’m also doing that and looking after each other and just realizing when you are
doing enough and maybe you’re probably doing too much and to. And I always say,
and I always say this to my friends, which is something I try to take home for myself as well,
is you can’t be the best version of yourself to help others if you don’t care for
yourself. So this is the easiest way as much as you might want to be selfless about
- You still have to care about yourself.
So you said from a young age and even in school that you would naturally caring for people and
trying to keep an eye on their well-being. Was that something that was instilled in
you as a kid from your parents or where did you learn that from?
I definitely thought it was a lot more normal when I was younger,
I was an only child and I did have of course two parents,
which were my whole world. And I would watch them and they were both like in their,
in these days they were both the highest fundraisers for Amnesty International. And they did
a lot of advocacy themselves because of their experience. And they were standing up
for Human rights in Iran. And then of course became refugees from Iran and then did
a lot of advocacy out of Iran as soon as they
got to England. And then also in, in, in England. And even in Australia to this day though,
they’ll both advocate for Human rights in that way. And on top of that,
I always knew of all the single individuals that supported both my mum and dad to
make sure that they could survive, that they had
a roof over their head that they had the connections and the support. And when they
were distressed that they would look after them and then my parents,
I watched them both become that role and every passing person that went on in their
lives as well.
So my mum has a spare room in our house and every other year,
there’s some other people staying there that really, that have come from
a refugee background. They really have no connections and earth gives them very,
very affordable rent that covers everything and she will drop them off everywhere. She’ll make sure she’ll find them
a job. She’ll connect them to the right people and pretty much free counselling as
well. And she or she’ll be that person, but she’ll never see a technically
a social worker left her. So she’ll never fully understand that. But she’s been
that role for so many people. And that’s what I have normalise and my grandma,
even when she passed away the amount of people that came to the funeral and were like, oh,
we used to go to our house whenever we had problems and we would talk it out with
her. And they were, they’ll the both my mom and my grandmother when matriarchal in the way that they
cared deeply for community. And they knew how important just every little act that
they helped. How much the ripple effect of that would then be as they were the
ripple ones as well. But Yeah, yeah.
Well, that sounds really cool. Yeah. It’s quite amazing.
Never explain that like that,
but that’s nice. So yes, Iranian political refugees, as you know,
described it to me and so, you know, were they facing danger and, and kind of,
you said they went to England. So where did they and when did they make that journey?
Yeah, so my, my mom and my dad,
they were both from Shiraz in Iran and it was about forty years ago that the
Islamic revolution happened when the Shah was overturned. And when the regime came in power, they put
a lot of rules on the community that was not what they promised would be initially.
And they just started killing in the masses. Anyone that was an academic and that potentially spoke against them,
or even my mom was actually caught by the police when she was sixteen. I think she
was putting posters up one time and she got put in the prison. And the second time
she got caught with a bit of her hair out of the scarf. And she wasn’t. Yeah,
because everyone, every woman in Iran had to then wear
a scarf that was fully covering. And so they put her in jail again the second time,
but the jail that they put her in the second time was the one where people just
come out of again. But one of the security guards happened to be the Brother of her
high School friend and those I mean what we doing here and managed to even put his
life on the line to make sure she escaped. And even my dad,
his story was like the most intense long story ever,
but he honestly escaped death by six times or something, but he as well his,
his brother was actually executed. And then when he found that out he did go into hiding and yeah,
and then he was in hiding for six months because no one would let him out of the
country. And then he finally managed to escape.
And like I said,
all those single individuals that just helped him just enough was the only reason
why he survived way too many times. And then yeah,
he managed to last minute. They wanted to send him back to Iran when they caught
him and Saudi Arabia. And then Amnesty International organized,
a English ambassador to come and last minute take him on an airplane to
England. So that was the last time that he managed to survive as well. So that was
Amnesty International and that’s of course why they both did so much work for Amnesty International after. Yeah. But yeah,
they both then of course they managed to be like two very lucky people. Obviously
there’s many stories just like those. And it’s, it’s,
you hear all the stories as well. Even my uncle who obviously didn’t get away. Was he, he was
a study medicine. He was in the Philippines doing pro bono work and was always like
known to be, you know,
so bad for the community. And then as soon as he found out about the revolution,
rush back to Iran to help his brothers to help the community.
And then of course,
they heard that even before they executed him,
they said that they could let him free if he said other names. And he didn’t say
other names. So Oh, it’s like the most beautiful people that they really,
they really tried to find the people who had the most about others and were so
selfless that they really Yes, very heartbreaking. Some of the stories that both my parents,
which were my childhood stories, Super fun, Super fun. Yeah. Just
process people, getting princesses and you know, it would be nice various bad fairy tales and things like
my parents are like the Islamic regime of Iran. Yeah. Yeah, and about Human rights. Yeah,
I think it was actually in me and at my high school we all got the Jewish topic to do
a presentation on. And it would be like animals and like keep things in mind with Amnesty
International Human rights. But
yeah, that’s awesome. Could only would have opened a few eyes. I reckon
maybe hopefully I really I should perhaps based on that Jurassic anyone remembers
that they send out like a little survey, you know, all these years later. Yeah, yeah,
yeah. Hey, do you remember that time was that we have you burning things then for it?
Well yeah, that’s quite amazing. I wasn’t expecting that for that kind of story in the. Yeah,
unbelievable. What your family’s been through and obviously, you know,
you hearing those stories is contributed in some ways because you’re doing amazing
work as well. You mentioned psychology before and so I know that you got
a scholarship from center of Social impact University Wade. How did that come about
and you know, I’ve always, I’ve never asked someone,
but I’ve always thought it someone to ask you, Baker. Okay. That didn’t feel like
a lot of pressure when you get a scholarship and you’re like, oh,
I have to do the
voting. Yeah. It does cause, I guess, imposter syndrome,
you’re like, oh my God, am I really like, am I really good though?
Like what, how about people in the class like I have been like the,
are they going to be better than me?
And then they’re going to realize I wish I gave it to them. Not that they weren’t
better than me, I’m sure a lot of them weren’t
, but I know for sure. I mean, so that actually came about,
I saw the first time that I said I got Oscar. The volunteering was at Columbia,
so I was the consumers of the mental health is the peak advocacy,
mental health body in a way. And I ran,
I mean I got the job for the initial first project and then I did two more projects
off of that with them. And I remember when I first started, I was,
I think twenty four. And I also look already like a child now. So I looked like
a small little child that was managing projects.
And I remember my colleague was
like really confused. Why they hired a child to run these projects. And then she,
I mean, she admitted to me like later. Yeah,
not at the time. You know,
at the time I thought I was just like,
why does this woman hate me and I don’t feel like she was giving me evals and
everything. And then later on we were working really close together and we started
doing some little things upon issue and she was like to me when he first came,
I thought, why did they hire a child?
And she said, but then as you went on, she obviously saw my,
my raging passion. And of course no one expects someone at twenty four to have all
that project management experience. And the projects were a success,
which is why I was getting at that point to the third project. And she was from
a multicultural background. And I think in this space as well, especially mental health there, especially in
a way like I think it’s really different. I’ve noticed the East, there’s not many people from
a multicultural background that also prioritizes at the unique needs of
multicultural mental health and the advocacy around that. And so she actually was
telling me about the that you can do a postgrad in social impact. And I was like,
well not because I didn’t like the project management in this space and now I find
out that that’s even a choice and she read it out to me and I was like,
that’s exactly what I’m passionate about. I didn’t know that was
a thing with more people like of my age or even my background as
a would know about it because it really gives you the,
the foundations of being able to do that higher level sort of systems change. And so she wrote up
a scholarship application for me herself and got an assignment. And so with both as
support I then I applied for it and then I got that and then yeah, thanks to her. And yeah,
that was an awesome and awesome. So I did, I was probably, there’s probably about thirty people in the class,
a lot of execs. High managers. And yeah,
so much influence in the room violence so much.
They also said that they were
confused why a child was in the class when they called me a smart baby,
which I wasn’t sure what kind of a backhanded compliment that was.
Oh yeah. Yeah.
I’ll take it smart baby. It
is baby. Uh well, it sounds like constantly surprising people,
but I think hopefully soon people won’t be surprised because you know, what I mean is keep
Keep on exactly this moniker smart knicker makes. So I’m going to change a little bit here,
but I just make sure I don’t want to forget to ask you because I had
a question that you know the top I mentioned spirit Super are sponsoring this
episode. Yeah. So spirit Super has sent me this question to ask you,
do you think being young helps or hinders when it comes to making change?
Well, that is timely. Hmm. In some ways and I feel like I’m also trying to take advantage
of that as well. Because in some ways being young and wanting to have a voice,
and it is really powerful because there’s not,
I mean there’s not that many young people that will come in front of such high
level stakeholders and tell them how it is. And on top of that,
something that I really push specially with right by you is that young people know
better than anyone else what they need and what they want their future to look like.
They have a lot more at stake. And I think we’re at
a point now where older people are realizing that as well. And also I started to give
a bit more credit to young people as they’re really informed generation.
That’s really upcoming. But definitely like I was saying, it’s definitely given
a lot more hurdles when to be taken seriously or to be let in some rooms.
Like I said, even just assuming that I look like
a child and also the way that you talk as well. I noticed the way that I talked was
a lot more informal because that’s what I used to,
of course is my kids. And then I go into
these rooms and I think like once or twice, I accidentally like let some slang out, which was really embarrassing.
And you remember what I was? I can’t,
I can’t remember. But I think I was like honestly was so I actually so embarrassed
that this is really embarrassing.
dubs that advocacy is not good.
That advocacy is so lame.
That’s funny. I have noticed though, that now that I’m like,
I’m twenty eight actually mind days that definitely it’s been easy to get taken
a bit more seriously. I’ve noticed that my language has probably got to
a point as well now where they will also side of what I’m saying. And it’s not just
cute, but actually really serious. But yeah, I don’t know,
it depends. It also depends on what you’re trying to advocate for. Like I was
advocating a lot at the beginning for multicultural advocacy, which was really difficult as a young person,
but it’s definitely easier to advocate for these things.
Yeah. Yeah. We, you’d hope that if they’re looking for that, you know, expert opinion for a young person,
then they have to value that opinion.
And I guess the only other issue they only really like,
they’re really hot and cold about actually genuinely consulting with young people.
Like I notice it depends on the person who is doing the consultation or leading
that on. How do they actually absorb the information that the young people are trying to tell them?
Or how good they are at creating those sort of themes or understanding what the young people actually are saying?
Not just what they want or seem that they want to say. And then run with that,
and that’s something that I see quite
a bit with some of the higher higher level organizations though. Say we have
a youth campaign coming up and I was like, oh, so excited. And then I asked them like, you know,
do you have young people involved in any of the processes?
And they said they thought about it and then they said um, well,
one of the graphic design honors is like in their late teens or early thirties or
something. And I was like at the time I was like twenty two thousand. I’m twenty
six and I wouldn’t count myself as a young person, like even when I was doing my,
I was an older person and I had really different views and once then a nineteen year old or
a twenty year old. So that was something that did take my back though,
something you think is really obvious.
So it’s hard because then of course the
young person would have never been in that room to push for advocacy. But at the same time,
I was probably more that in the room because I had so ten years on me to let me be
in that room by then.
Yeah, in my experience, I’ve found this as well that people don’t even stop to think like, oh,
who we got on our panel or who we got, you know,
we faced it with our awards as well. And you just called in to invite the same people back
a year on year. The problem with doing that is they get older and older. And so
once upon a time we had young people that now know that we loved them. So yeah,
over the last few years, you know, we’ve made it such
a priority to ensure that winners of the young achiever awards and then follow
through to being on the judging panel themselves. That’s really important. And it
makes a big difference. Yeah. So, but I know what you mean, you know,
reading will Anderson’s book at the moment. Takes me a while to read a book because,
yeah, I don’t know. I mean,
when you were reading that he had this great point about these kind of what you
touched on, that young people have
a lot to say and also the world that we’re all going to be living in down the track.
You know, we’re going to be the,
the older generation at that point. So we should have more of a say,
especially with climate change and things like that. You know, mental health. I mean misconception I’ve heard is people say,
people have so many more problems these days. And Ana, you have
a much better opinion, but my take on that is, well,
we’re more comfortable sharing. Now the problems never at knew the problems with the same everyone’s face,
but now we’re more comfortable to share. We’re more connected than ever before. So
we’re hearing about it. Want to see a difference.
Well, one hundred percent, especially when it comes to mental health this I hear about a lot,
I mean mainly at most social events or family events that you hear like oh, all of
a sudden everyone has a mental health problem and then I’m like, oh, well,
didn’t you feel you say this like my favorite thing,
I wouldn’t even say it was I because they were like making fun of people for mental
health. And I like read out the symptoms of PTSD and of
ADHD to them. And this is at two different times. They did it to them twice and
they’re like, yeah, that’s me like, Yeah. Like I experienced that. Yeah. And I was like, that’s actually ADHD,
or like that’s PTSD, you should get help Like no like and then they’ll denial the symptoms and
everything and they will listen at the moment. And I was like, no, we’re just now at a generation of
a time where we are so scared to admit what we might be experiencing,
and we want to change that actually the family. Well,
I want you to tell me a little bit about right by you,
because I’m not as familiar with it, but it’s come up. It was part of, it was
a big part of your nomination. And you know,
I mentioned at the top that the episode was sponsored by straight shooter,
but you actually won the spirit Super connected communities awards. So what was
right by you and yeah, fill us in on that.
Yeah. Well yeah, actually I think it was one of the project committee steering members that nominated me.
Yeah. So I actually wasn’t even there to be able to accept. I mean,
what’s good about that to hope that it’s
good to have an award? I guess I’m like out of the country the one time
we’ll go in reverse order. So yeah,
I noticed that that you went there the the event. So what were you doing?
I was in Europe. Yeah,
I can’t complain. I was in Switzerland. I was working out of the View. Well we call
and then it was like, oh these messages and I was like, yeah,
that’s pretty good. Yeah. You can’t, that’s a pretty good excuse.
No, I was I couldn’t, I really couldn’t complain at that point. I was like,
oh I of just left was like was the P. I said to my partner,
I looked at him and I was like, this is the
peak of my life. I’m like, looking out, is it true? And then just like winning the award,
it was like I was eating something probably normally happiest when I’m eating. But
yeah, now that was, that was the year and yeah, a close confidant imposter syndrome. But no,
so the right by you right by you was actually something that came across in my joke.
Like I was saying we meet up with
a lot of Community members try to find out ways that we can support them to support
their own community. When it comes to increasing their capacity to respond to
suicide. And one of the networks that I was on one of the youth networks,
it was coming up. And this is something that like a narrative that you hear now and then,
but it was one of the schools specifically that had two losses that year.
And one of the,
the kids had told one of the committee members that I have seen my friend post some things,
but we didn’t know what to do. And then there was another one as well. That was in
the committee that had said that he had seen a post,
but he had the training and so he knew what to say. And so he contacted the friend
and that is the rarest story that you will hear in this, in the space. In that school they did
a lot of training so that those kids have more confidence in responding. So we’re
saying how can we make sure that that is something that’s more consistent and how
can we just stop constantly hearing the story that kids just rather not make
a mistake and rather do nothing. And then that just be the worst thing that you
could possibly do anyways. And so we,
I did some consultation with some of the Headspace youth reference groups and asked
them what would you want in that client? If you saw a post, what information,
what would help you in that point to actually message your friend?
And they kind of came up with the idea of like not an app because you have to
download it and keep it on your phone. But just
a website that you can just quickly get into that we have a QR sticker,
like on our phone or on our diary or on our laptop. And I have mine on my laptop
here as well. And on my phone, which is really inaccessible, because I can’t scam my phone,
that’s not how it Is and just have really key information
of what you can say and then like we want it to be use language and I keep hearing
from them as well that
a lot of Things that so that are made for young people in mental health or
suicide prevention, you can tell from themselves, provide
a lens and rhythm for adults, even though it says for youth. And we can tell that, like,
I’m not going to let you have examples of time. I’m not going to say that or I don’t
think like that or absorb the information that I want.
So put together
a steering committee of twelve individuals and with making sure majority were the twenty five that they represented
a diverse Group of people from culture, sexuality, socioeconomic, and lived experience. Whether they had an experience themselves or suicidal
ideation and being the poster,
or being the friend who’s been in concert. So making sure that we have as many
lenses as possible on that and
a lot of them also work in the space as well. So we’re really informed and yes,
work with them we put together even from the name to the colors, to the tabs,
the links, even the understanding more section, which has a range of specific experiences to specific groups. Whether it’s
a relationship breakdown, or whether you’re from a disability or multicultural, or Aboriginal background,
this specific co-design section’s as well on what someone from that background
would even more specifically know about their experience. So all of that was put
together over a year. And then in April of this year, we finally launched it nationally and,
but we’ve been just focusing on the promotion in Perth, Metro,
but we did I gone back for a second. That
was fun. Yeah, that’s awesome. You know,
I’m crazy. But yet at the moment still we’re just focusing with the social media
ads on Snapchat and where young people actually are just sharing the promotional
toolkit as well. So that’s been that, Well, it’s really exciting and yeah,
the person Rio is on that committee. Yeah, of course.
Yeah, that’s fantastic. Well, it sounds like took quite a long time to, you know,
go from getting it going to launching it. But you know, they say the good things take time. So yeah,
congrats on getting that up and running. That’s awesome.
Thank you. Yeah, no, definitely. It was quite the journey,
but it was something that we said it has to be done,
right. If we’re going to do it otherwise, it’s just yeah, no,
no point in just creating another resource just to put out that. But yeah,
and also it was something that we, we noticed in our own,
you might an engagement with schools or communities that it’s more of
a relief because even though we’d prefer for everyone to go get training,
it’s not really that realistic for everyone to go take that time out or find
a way or bucket. So this is not at all
a to be used instead like people should definitely prioritize getting training,
but at least we know it’s more use as a, as
a relief that they know they can access this information. For the meantime,
I just, I just Googled it right by you know, and I think the
media is on as well. We have like eleven young people in the videos
of the seven most common questions that I was getting from the schools.
Well, I said good SC. Oh God, because it comes out straight away, Super accessible. So you know,
I don’t think that anyone listening to this that that is thinking I haven’t got
a clue. I could then just just Google it right by you
think? Oh, I remember five at the beginning because I was thinking, rabbi,
he was worried that the name was not too unique and that would be hard to find. But
that’s good to hear. It’s going up.
It’s gone up, it’s gone up.
So yeah, that sounds like such a great resource and, you know, I’ve,
I’ve experienced that myself where you got to think, oh,
I think this like my mates not doing the best. I don’t really know how to broach it.
Like, you know, I do love, are you okay? Obviously it’s so instrumental,
it’s amazing marketing that they’ve got there. But you know,
in my personal experience, sometimes it’s like, hey, are you okay?
It’s too easy to deflect. But yeah, so sometimes having that
extra number, one myth that we even try to always share with right by you,
is that by asking someone directly if they are having thoughts of ending their life or, or suicide. That,
that will never put the idea in someone’s head that will never make someone think
actually that’s a great idea that will only ever give them
a chance to finally be honest and say it because it’s so much harder to bring it up
to other people than if someone is asked directly,
so that is just the number one thing I think it’s always hot. People get really
nervous around the idea of suicide because of that idea. But the best thing you can
do is find out directly. And then from there,
discuss with them how you can help them or as well there’s
a tab on the website as well, which is. So there is, I think,
two newspaper articles about this as well. So one of them I shared my experience
and that was when my friend was in emergency and she got word. So they had sent me
a Thank you message for everything. And for me that was
a massive red flag because I knew that has gone through
a very distressing experience and I was really worried about them.
I tried to call them No answering,
so I straight away and these steps as well are on the emergency page on what to do.
Luckily I work in the area. I knew what to do and called emergency did a welfare check,
told them to go and check Samuel wasn’t going to get there in time as well. And I
want you to as well go there that worried that is my father and an emergency went
there and they managed to stop her as well. And then take her to it and she was
able to get reconnected to supports off of that as well. So it’s just making sure
that the person is safe at that moment that you’re worried is the most important
thing and making sure that they see hope on how they can actually go through recovery.
Yeah, that’s amazing. That’s. Yeah.
Incredible. And I think a lot of people,
you know, even if they haven’t gone through that process, something to think about and to have that knowledge of,
of how to respond and how they know about in a stressful situation. Like what I do,
you have to think
that’s most people. And I mean there were
a of the friends that also got the message as well and they were like,
one was like an intense, emotional reaction. That’s
a really normal reaction. And the worrying thing is, well, I think when there is
a loss is that there’s always people always looking back. I could have done with
that. I miss, but it’s not it’s,
it’s so difficult.
It does is the signs are so different for everyone and
especially to the untrained eye and you know,
no humans are not going to be well trained of understanding the complex understandings of suicidal ideation. But yeah,
just not blaming yourself because no one, No one would really know what they look like,
but just when you’re in the situation and you are worried of course,
it’s very stressful. You feel like there is a life with your life in your hand. But um yeah,
it’s just carry in that point and just focusing on the safety and that point. Yeah,
very scary for sure. Either.
I haven’t heard that term suicidal ideation. Is that when someone is contemplating that thinking about suicide?
Yes, that’s a, it’s a term that definitely we use when someone is having thoughts of suicide. And the
thing is that sometimes it’s understood that some people might have suicidal ideation,
but they’re not at risk. So that is also another really confusing understanding of
the whole complex world of suicide prevention. But yeah, ideation is just having the thoughts
around. Yeah, well, I’m familiar with the,
you know, the term ideation, but I just hadn’t heard it in that way. So that’s a so Nico,
with all this stuff that you’re doing with your paid employee employment and putting these resources out there,
don’t have centrifuges. But what do you do for fun to keep yourself motivated to
keep yourself fresh and, and going, you know, when you’re working in such an intense field,
What I do for fun,
I do love cooking. I really do. I just love eating and I love cooking and the best
thing about cooking is that you get to eat at the end. I always say that great. But
other than that, what else do I love to do? My God,
I’m one of those people that just goes and eats. I guess I haven’t done this for
a while, but I used to Kayak a lot and I used to do
a bit of sailing. And I definitely think the most important thing,
which I haven’t done for a bit, but I need to get back into is
a good bushwalk. That is like the most grounding thing of all time. And even just
any form of exercise, I do try my best.
Instead of just going out for a coffee or
a drink with a friend to just go for a walk, and then it’s just, it’s so much better,
you get to just check on them. Check in on
them. They check in on you. You have a good time finding out what’s happening in each other’s lives,
some good discussions, and then exercise at the same time. So I love
a walk and well figure to alcohol. My food
goes hand in hand. You love the cooking,
the eating and then the Walking. Now I have to go. Okay. Yeah.
So my mental health is like that. I mean that is like having to work for my mental health.
You’re embodying it.
Yeah, yes. Yeah.
Yeah. Well, last question, before I let you go and get back to your day, is, you know,
I think that you are an incredibly inspiring person with all the work that you’ve
done and everything you’ve achieved. Even though you’re just a smart baby apparently. But can you tell us,
what is it that inspires you
the, you know, I was saying before about the ripple effects. It’s all the ripple effects that help
And now my mom helps people in their ripple effects. I think every day when
I, when I do my work,
I meet these amazing community leaders who are just going above and beyond to do
and support everything for their own communities and even blessed alien nominated
- She does like volunteering like hours and hours every week and just cares so
deeply about other people and making sure that you know that even to make sure that I was recognized,
that was great too sweet of her when she was doing all this advocacy for disability
and multiculturalism herself and it’s just people like her and people like the
woman I said at Cornell, that cried for me to get
a scholarship is just recognizing that people like that just they do exist. Really good. People do exist,
really good things. You just hear more about the negative things so much more often,
and it’s about being that person as well for the communities as much as possible,
making sure that I’m also giving it forward and making sure every little individual that if I come across,
if I see that I could maybe be that person that supports them in that time to be
that person and just kind of seeing your own role as other people have played
a role in your life and kind of making life as good as possible for each other that
wouldn’t really exist much more. I know I was going with that, but I mean, Right
now it’s fantastic is fantastic. Etc. is it’s there. Yeah. It’s the, the people you know,
you inspire by people and it seems like you really sparked by those who had,
as you said, pay it forward and create that ripple effect. I think that was really, really eloquent in
a way because you describe that earlier. And then to bring it back at the end was
a pretty slick move by you so well done. I have previously been focused on swimming.
And was it aliya who represented you at the awards night as well? Yeah,
yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Our senior photo is in the thing and it was like Nikos,
I don’t know why all of you Thought things you had to read out. Yeah. The speech
and everything. You just Yeah. So
hopefully she enjoyed it.
so Nico, people wanted to find out a bit more
about you and your work or, you know, connect professionally. What’s the best way they can do that.
What they’re going to
say to add me on LinkedIn. So I’m just make
a run. Even if you don’t have LinkedIn, I always say to every young person in this space,
make sure you just get it even if you have no connections yet,
just just start building it. I know I had it while I was in Uni or just start
adding people and, and over time it’s really,
really helpful to be on. Especially if you want to connect in this space.
LinkedIn to me is like a better version of Facebook. Yeah, it’s essentially the exact same format as Facebook,
but instead of like your aunt and uncle and your mum and dad and it’s like, professional people,
lawyers and people that you can connect with and collaborate with any day. And you
can see their exact role and what they do good and projects that they’ve got is the
best, honestly, LinkedIn. But the other thing, of course that I wanted to say was that if of course,
you can’t ever assume anyone’s experience and what might trigger someone. So if
anyone is feeling uncomfortable or if anything has been come up during this
conversation. If you are under twenty five kids, helpline has an excellent Pre counselling service,
so you can call them kids helpline. If you look them up and you can get free
counselling with the same counsellor as many times as possible,
that’s free as well as Headspace. But if you are older because the sixteen plus suicide callback there,
as well as I have professional Counsellors and psychologists that can help and the
Lifeline is always promoted, but I find it’s more of a compassion,
compassionate care response. That’s my only volunteer which is great to call if you
just need that instant sort of crisis compassionate support. But if you want free counselling, you can access kids helpline,
Headspace or suicide callback service. Or of course yeah, go to a GP and ask for
a mental health plan as well. Yeah, definitely look after yourself because before you can’t help others,
if you’re not in the best mental state yourself. Yeah,
well, fantastic. Thank you for that. Make a great message. And you know,
I think that people listening to this will take
a lot out of it because it’s something that impacts us all even if it’s not as far
as Vance as a suicidal,
ideation send money. And it’s important to have some of this now tool kit. So yeah, thank you.
enjoy the rest of your day. And thanks for joining us on the inspirational straits podcast.
Thank you, fun.
The Inspirational Australian’s podcast is brought to you by awards Australia; we recognise, celebrate and share the stories of inspirational Australians through our awards Programs across the country. To find out more, to nominate an inspirational Australian in your life, or to partner with our awards, visit awards Australia dotcom. If you enjoyed today’s story, we’d love it if you could subscribe, rate and review to make sure you don’t miss an episode and to help our guests reach more people with their inspirational stories.