As Australia continues to re-open post pandemic, Australians of various ages and fitness levels are flocking to Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula to support Great Aussie Hike in the name of fun and showing support for one another, both mentally and physically. The registrations are currently open on Great Aussie Hike website and the annual event will take place from 24-25 March 2023.
It is widely recognised that social isolation and loneliness can be challenging to mental and physical health.1 It is estimated that 1 in 3 Australians have reported feelings of loneliness in 2022.1
Great Aussie Hike has selected Lifeline Australia as their beneficiary in recognition of the important role community and team work plays in supporting mental and physical wellbeing and the vital role of connections. Lifeline is a national charity providing all Australians experiencing emotional distress with access to 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.
Participants can opt to tackle the 30km, 43km, 57km or 100km course as a registered team. There is also a unique ‘Share the Distance’ option where you can choose to either take on the entire course or swap sections with your teammates, embracing the spirit of mates looking after each other.
Great Aussie Hike is recognised as a “team challenge with a difference”. There is a way for everyone to participate regardless of your fitness, experience, or even if you do not have a team. For those participants who want to join the challenge, but do not have a team, “The Hitch Hikers” is a way to be part of the challenge, meet new people and find support in one another along the journey. This is one of the ways Great Aussie Hike promotes inclusivity and camaraderie amongst all the participants, whether they register as a group or on their own.
According to Anna Brown, Program Director of Great Aussie Hike, it is the element of fun and mateship that keeps Australians returning and supporting the initiative.
“The pandemic has certainly taught us the power of community and how it influences our mental wellbeing. It doesn’t matter what distance you do or how your team gets to the finish line. It’s all about mates supporting each other in a fun, positive environment. This is evident when we see our teams spend the whole course chatting and laughing together,” said Ms Brown.
“The partnership with Lifeline Australia is important to our challenge because we want to encourage connection with one another while receiving the benefits of improving mental and physical health in the beautiful outdoors. Plus, we all get to experience the incredible views and hidden gems of the Mornington Peninsula.”
Fiona Redding, Ambassador for Great Aussie Hike and Founder of The Happiness Hunter, was inspired to get involved with the community because she understands the benefits that come through walking and connecting with others.
“There is clear evidence about the benefits of walking with a group of people in nature to our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing. Great Aussie Hike is all about community, about people helping people, creating deep connections and doing something fun and challenging. This all contributes to us feeling happier, and more connected with life,” said Ms Redding.
Colin Seery, Lifeline Australia CEO, says events that help Australians to form greater connections and create moments where people can give or receive support are closely aligned with Lifeline’s mission.
“Lifeline is excited to be part of Great Aussie Hike. This event will help Australians create meaningful connections during their journey, encourage listening and support for Australians while enjoying a challenge,” said Mr Seery.
To register for Great Aussie Hike, visit www.greataussiehike.com.au. Places are limited.
If you, or someone you know are feeling overwhelmed, we encourage you to connect with Lifeline in the way you feel most comfortable. You can phone Lifeline to speak to a Crisis Supporter on 13 11 14 (24 hours/7 days), text 0477 131 114 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) or chat to Lifeline online at www.lifeline.org.au (24/7)
Lifeline is Australia’s leading suicide prevention service, operating the 13 11 14 telephone line within 41 centres around the nation. The service expects to respond to over one million requests for support this year, creating an average of 120 safety plans to keep a person experiencing suicidal ideation safe every day.