Portrait 406/1000: Wayne Schwass.
If you're an Australian Rules fan, you probably already know Wayne Schwass. He's a former AFL footballer who played with the North Melbourne Football Club and Sydney Swans during his career.
So, full disclosure, I had no idea who Wayne was when I first heard about him, not having a history with football. He was in Lilydale in 2017 to talk about his work with Puka Up and the importance of paying attention to your mental health, and I went along.
The speech was amazing, both in the sense that Wayne is a fantastic public speaker, but also because of the raw notes he hit and the visible reaction the audience had.
He's shared this story on his social media accounts - a photo of him standing on the dias after winning the 1996 premiership with the NMFC. He spoke about standing on the dias, looking out to a crowd of more than 90,000 people, and feeling suicidal.
The only two people in that crowd who knew he'd been struggling with depression - for a significant amount of time - were his wife and his GP.
When he hit that note, you could hear several people sighing from the impact of it.
He spoke about how he carried his mental illness with him and didn't seek help for a long time, for fear of what people would think of him. His message on the day was about making sure you check in with your own mental health, talk about what's on your mind, and look out for and help people who might be having a tough time. @pukaup is about just that - normalising the discussion around mental health and wellbeing so it's easier for people to engage with and to seek help.
I won't go too much more into that, because the website has plenty of information and resources, including places you can go or call if you need someone to talk to.
Here's that link: www.pukaup.com/help
After Wayne's presentation, I took this quick photo of him in the morning sun for the project, he had a quick chat to some folks, and he hit the road.
Thanks so much for being part of the project, Wayne! Keep up the amazing work.