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Autumn 2013

If the Philanthropic Hat Fits Wear it and Support Mental Health Research on Hat Day this October 2013 In 2005, after struggling with severe Bipolar Disorder for 25 years, Ian Parker tragically lost his life to suicide. This year Ian Parker’s sister, Carol Smit, founded the first Bipolar research fund to be established in Australia. The fund is called the Australian Rotary Health Ian Parker Bipolar Fund PhD Scholarship, and will further support mental health research initiatives that continue to improve the health lives of Australians suffering from a mental illness. Mental illness affects one in five Australians every year, contributing to over 2,500 annual deaths through suicide. It is the third biggest health problem behind cancer and heart disease and, according to the World Health Organisation, is expected to be the leading cause of disability by the year 2020. Since 2000, Australian Rotary Health has invested nearly $24 million on research grants and scholarships in universities and hospitals around Australia focused on mental health research, of which the Ian Parker Scholarship is one example. Australian Rotary Health is now one of the largest non-government funding bodies for mental health research in Australia. Joy Gillett, CEO at Australian Rotary Health noted, “It is our intention to be a catalyst for projects that will improve the quality of life for those that are least able to assist themselves”, “We are achieving this through research projects most recently focused on the mental health of young Australians.” Historically Australian Rotary Health has been supported by Rotarians and Rotary Clubs Australia-wide. Its very establishment in 1981 was the result of a meeting at the Rotary Club of Mornington, Victoria where founder, Ian Scott, expressed his intentions to create a funding body for research into the causes of SIDS,(Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). They have since extended their scope to reach the broader community

need and welcomed many new commercial supporters to their cause. A total of $29 million has been raised over 31 years. In 2011 Hat Day for Mental Health Research was established as the first national action and awareness day of Australian Rotary Health. The day is aims to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues and promote the need for more research into mental illness.

hats in Melbourne’s City Square breaking the Guinness World Record for the second time. In doing so, Hat Day supporters have raised the profile of mental health in the community, aiming to reduce its stigma. “Hat Day is a fun way for people of all ages to join together in raising awareness for mental health research and donate to finding preventions and cures for mental illnesses,” Mr. Davies said.

“We want to promote the fact that no matter what ‘hat’ people are wearing in their day to day lives, we are all affected by mental illness,” Terry Davies, Corporate In addition to this support, countless Manager says, “It is also a great way Rotary clubs, organisations to extend our community and community groups involvement by getting in Australia have hosted schools, workplaces and Hat Days during May and Mental illness individuals to host their own October. Close to $300,000 affects one in five Hat Day.” has been raised for mental Australians every health research since Australian Rotary Health’s year, contributing May 2011. inaugural Hat Day was held on 20th May, 2011 in to over 2,500 This year everyone is Martin Place, Sydney, raising encouraged to wear a hat on annual deaths awareness for mental health Friday 13th October, 2013 through suicide. by setting the Guinness and donate to Australian World Record for the Most Rotary Health in support of People Wearing Paper Hats finding treatments and cures Simultaneously. 301 people for mental illnesses. Many will also organise sported newspaper hats for ten minutes in their own Hat Day events at various times support of Australian Rotary Health’s cause. during Mental Health month; at school, in the workplace, with the community or with In 2012 Hat Day was celebrated in similar friends. Your group is encouraged to get style on the 18th May, 2012. Unfortunately involved too. their World Record had been broken by a school in Southampton, UK with 802 Studies funded by Australian Rotary people and Hat Day supporters just missed Health have included the discovery of out on reclaiming the title. Hat Day was a gene which may be the body’s self then moved to fit in with Mental Health defence against cancer, uncovering the link Month in October 2012, to be celebrated between diet and mental health, a number annually in future on the Friday of Mental of programs to reduce anxiety, depression Health Week. and suicide and the assessment of national bowel cancer screenings to be used in Given a second opportunity, on Friday the future government policy-making. 12th October at 1pm, 817 people wore red “We hope that even more individuals and organisations will be involved in Hat Day this year to stop Australians from keeping mental illness under their hats,” Ms Gillett says. “The donations we receive and the mental health research it funds are fundamental in reaching positive outcomes for people suffering mental illnesses like Ian Parker did.” For more information visit www.hatday.com.au, www.facebook.com/rotaryhatday or www.twitter.com/HatDay 3 Hat Day Guinness World Record Moment.

grassROOTS AUTUMN 2013

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GRASS ROOTS – ISSUE THREE – AUTUMN 2013  

RESEARCH AUSTRALIA PHILANTHROPY This magazine is a vehicle for members to showcase their activity in philanthropy for health and medical res...