Letters to the editor | December 18, 2017

A time for reflection

AS WE prepare to celebrate Christmas and the arrival of 2018 I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone in the Lowan electorate a very merry Christmas, and a happy, safe and prosperous New Year.

The Christmas holiday season is an opportunity to spend time with family and friends and to reflect on the important things in life. Holidays can bring great moments of joy and hopefully long stretches of relaxation. I hope everyone enjoys this time, but also remains vigilant and safe on the roads, in our waterways, pools, out in nature and even in the backyard.

As the festive season brings with it an array of shopping needs I encourage everyone to shop locally to support our local traders and economy.

It has been a privilege to represent and work for the people of Lowan in 2017.

For me it has been a busy and fulfilling year and I have greatly enjoyed the diversity of individuals, groups and organisations I have worked with to help make western Victoria a better place. The strength and generosity of our rural communities is one of our greatest assets.

Please take the time to look out for others in our community, to extend the hand of friendship and offer the spirit of Christmas to those around you.

Emma Kealy, Member for Lowan

Look out for others

THE year is coming to an end, and this is a great time to reflect and express our gratitude for all the things that have happened.

For many of us, it’s a time to finish work or school for the year, unwind and settle into holiday-mode. Other people may find the festive season very difficult, particularly those experiencing isolation, loneliness or mental health issues. These experiences can all be heightened as we are bombarded with messages of family celebrations, gifts and holidays.

As well as this, thousands of young people may be facing big life changes over the coming months, such as starting a new school, awaiting exam results for higher education opportunities or beginning a job.

Losing the normal routine and structure of school, regular contact with friends or having to financially support themselves can make this time particularly challenging.

Students in university or TAFE may also be facing stressors at this time affecting their mental health and wellbeing. Some young people may have less parental contact leaving them vulnerable and changes in their mental health going unnoticed.

Families and friends are key in helping a young person get support. Knowing the signs and symptoms something might be wrong and then how to get help is important. For anyone supporting a young person they don’t need to be able to solve everything. However, noticing changes and signs that something isn’t right is a good first step. Being withdrawn, not wanting to be with friends, not doing the things they would normally enjoy, ongoing worry or irritability are just some of the things to look out for.

If you need support or advice, headspace is here to help.

As the National Youth Mental Health Foundation, headspace provides support to young people aged 12 to 25 who are going through a tough time. This can include support around mental health, physical health, work and study or alcohol and other drugs.

You can access help through one of our 100 centres in metro, regional and remote areas of Australia, which you can locate on our website headspace.org.au

There are also various resources for young people, families and friends covering different mental health issues and self-care strategies. Help can also be accessed via eheadspace.org.au providing online and telephone support between 9am and 1am (AEDT), seven days-a-week, including Christmas Day.

Jason Trethowan, chief executive, headspace 

Thanks for assistance

I WOULD like to take the opportunity, through your newspaper, to thank all the generous women who knitted this year for refugee children arriving in Australia.

Thank-you to so many people who donated yarn throughout the year.

Wish you all a happy Christmas and all the very best for the new year.

Chris Velthuis, co-ordinator, Wimmera Knitters

Make health commitments

ON BEHALF of local stroke survivors and the Stroke Foundation, I would like to thank members of the community who got motivated and moving by taking part in Stride4stroke throughout November.

Not only did almost 650 participants lower their own stroke risk by taking on their own physical challenge, they raised vital funds for StrokeLine (1800 787 653), which is Australia’s only dedicated national helpline for stroke survivors and their families.  

I am excited to announce that with your support, we collectively clocked up more than 47,000 kilometres and raised almost $140,000 for StrokeLine. These donations will enable Stroke Foundation to continue to provide this vital telephone support service when it is needed most.

There will be 56,000 strokes in Australia this year. That is one every nine minutes. 

Stroke attacks the brain – the human control centre, changing lives in an instant. The impact of a stroke is felt well beyond the individual, with families lives also turned upside down by this devastating disease.

But around 80 per cent of strokes are preventable. Looking after our own health is the first step. Physical inactivity is now the second highest risk factor for stroke behind high blood pressure. This new year, make a commitment to your health – check fit, check lean and get checked (blood pressure), it could save your life.

Sharon McGowan, chief executive, Stroke Foundation

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