Home » Speaking out about mental health

Speaking out about mental health

Daniel Bouwmeester    October 26, 2023    3 min read   
Image: Women Empowerment and Leadership (WEL).

A duo of women-led associations proudly hosted a mental health awareness panel in Ipswich early last month.

Springfield-based Women Empowerment and Leadership (WEL), in collaboration with the Islamic Women’s Association Australia (IWAA), held the “No Fear to Speak Out” event at Brothers Leagues Club in Raceview, Ipswich, on October 8.

The purpose of the panel was primarily to unite diverse stakeholders in raising awareness about mental health issues.

It coincided with Mental Health Awareness Month in October.

Representatives from not just Springfield but the wider Ipswich region, Logan, and as far as the Gold Coast attended.

Lead organisers of the event were WEL founder and director Rita Anwari and vice president Pushpa Vaghela – who is also a mental health professional.

They aim to seek support from authorities and government officials through such panels.

Amplifying voices

Mrs Anwari, a resident of Springfield Lakes, said mental health was a cause “close to every community member’s heart”.

“Our primary goal was to break the silence [and] providing a platform for community voices,” Mrs Anwari said.

Addressing pressing issues such as domestic violence and crime, and amplifying youth voices were crucial, she added.

“This event represented a significant step towards strengthening our community, making it safer, more inclusive, and better equipped to tackle the challenges of our times.

“It was a resounding success.”

IWAA Head Dr Nora Amath provided insightful moderation on the day.

Government representatives included Blair MP Shayne Neumann, Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding, and Division 1 Councillors Sheila Ireland and Jacob Madsen.

Uprooting stigma

UQ’s Professor Bronwyn Fredericks spoke at the event. Images: Saeed Hashimi.

Cr Madsen said connecting people to the right support services starts with openness and dialogue.

“The main thing we can all do is be supportive and encourage everyone to be open about what issues they are facing,” Cr Madsen said.

University of Queensland Indigenous Engagement Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Bronwyn Fredericks delivered insights into the mental health of Australian Indigenous people – a timely contribution mere days before the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice referendum.

CEO of Islamic College of Brisbane Ali Kadri, Neta Care Executive Health Officer Usama Rane, and legal system specialist Sayfullah Hashimi were other notable guests on the day.

Afghan Australian National Council director Saeed Hashimi said members of the Gold Coast Afghan community were honoured to attend such an “enlightening” event, focused on eradicating the stigma associated with discussing mental illness.

“Together, we stand united in fostering an open and supportive environment for all,” Mr Hashimi noted.

For more information about Women Empowerment and Leadership, visit welaus.com.au or email info@welaus.com.au.

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Daniel Bouwmeester

Daniel was born in a mining town in New South Wales to Dutch and Welsh immigrants, before relocating to Logan City, where he attended Canterbury College for twelve years. He pursued his passion for music by completing a first-class honours degree at the University of Queensland (UQ), and later signed with a local record label. He has travelled the world from a young age, including a student exchange in rural France, a job working the ski lifts in Colorado, and visits to the islands of the South Pacific. After a six-year career in market research, Daniel returned to UQ to complete a Bachelor of Journalism and Arts dual degree, majoring in political science. His varied experiences at home and abroad have contributed to a passion for spreading good news while defending the truth buried inside complex societal paradigms.