Illawarra innovator celebrates milestone

Centre stage: Ally Kelly had plenty of good news to share after accepting her highly commended award at the Illawarra Women In Business Awards on Friday.Picture: GREG ELLIS

Centre stage: Ally Kelly had plenty of good news to share after accepting her highly commended award at the Illawarra Women In Business Awards on Friday.Picture: GREG ELLIS

It is not every day that a Wollongong-based charity gets selected to feature as a state representative to lead a nationwide event.

But that is what happened to Mind Blank recently when the Illawarra-based mental health awareness initiative was showcased to Australia during a major Youth Week event at NSW Parliament House.

Mind Blank founder and executive director Ally Kelly reflected on the significance of that while attending the Illawarra Women in Business Awards last Friday, where she received a highly commended recognition in the Illawarra Young Business Person of the Year Award category.

Ms Kelly said Mind Blank had celebrated Youth Week by working alongside the Department of Education and Communities to launch 2014 Youth Week activities under the theme of Minding Our Mental Health.

She said it was important to get the message out there to youth because experiencing a mental health problem was a risk factor for self-harm.

Evidence suggests that more than 90 per cent of people who present to hospital with self-harm have a mental disorder, the most common being depression.

Which is why the Mind Blank program developed in Wollongong uses theatre to deliver that message.

Mind Blank shows actively discuss how to get effective mental health to at-risk youth.

Ms Kelly and her team used the Youth Week launch to showcase the innovative method to a national audience.

Also present were Mental Health Commission of NSW commissioner John Feneley, Minister for Citizenship and Communities and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Victor Dominello and Minister for Mental Health and Healthy Lifestyles Kevin Humphries.

Ms Kelly said Mind Blank saw it as a wonderful opportunity to raise the profiles for regional not-for-profit organisations and she was proud to have represented the city of innovation [Wollongong].

"It's a milestone for us and it's a great time to celebrate as our work continues to expand into the St George and Western Sydney areas."

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