With their traditional Brownlow breakfast a victim of the Melbourne COVID-19 restrictions, SALT went online to provide a “Down-Low” session jam-packed with celebrity football guests and great messages.

Dave Burt, Founder of SALT and Scott Angove, a SALT trainer, MC’d the event – Dave in Melbourne and Scott in Ballarat.

Dave spoke about what a tumultuous year it has been with all SALT’s plans thrown out the window but how they re-grouped, quicky adapted and ended up delivering hundreds of online sessions, specifically tailored to address and solve the issues that were coming out of the COVID-19 restrictions and, in Melbourne in particular, lockdowns.

He explained how their Live Quiz – an anonymous method of session participants indicating how they are feeling – was able to unearth so many people who were not coping, were desperate and needed much greater support and help.

The virtual audience of 200+ attendees then heard from Layne Stretton, Chairman of SALT but also founder of Roses in the Ocean – a suicide prevention organisation. Shane Lucas, CEO of the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation then spoke about preventing and reducing gambling harm.

Julian Badenach, of Woodards Real Estate in Blackburn told attendees how a SALT business Re-Emerge session had helped re-focus his team and gave them the tools to come through looking for the positives rather than suffering prolonged stress and anxiety. Nan Caple, Chair of the Community Bank National Council spoke on behalf of Bendigo Bank, SALT’s major sponsor talking about how SALT’s mission fits so well with their community focus.

Susan Alberti AC and Patron of SALT shared how the COVID restrictions had allowed her to more passionately re-focus on the medical research efforts that are so important to her, including working with the Walter and Eliza Institute who are seeking a vaccine. She was devastated when the playing of sport was stopped, not only for the impact it would have on young people mentally, but also physically.  With the increase in childhood obesity and the fact that children under ten are being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, she felt that the loss of sports was an issue.

“Sport is more than mental health – it’s physical wellbeing too.”

David Parkin, OAM, Patron of SALT, premiership Captain, esteemed coach and commentator related how he has been isolating for months in regional Victoria but had taken this time to write his autobiography.  The process made him reconnect with past colleagues and friends – initially to fact-check but it turned into a really positive exercise.

“I had the chance to reconnect with about two hundred people in my life that have supported me and given me opportunities.”

Jack Higgins, Richmond Footballer spoke about how he handled the operations on his brain last year.  He said he was lucky he was surrounded by so many good people and that he told himself that there were a lot of people worse off than him. He believes experience matured him a lot and he is a stronger person.

“People are doing it worse than me, I’m going to get through this.”

Jack Gunston, Hawks champion and this year’s club Best and Fairest, related how he got through the season’s unique challenges.  As a leader he wanted to set an example and be positive.  He was grateful that they were able to continue the season.  Their Hub experience bought the player group closer together and they all looked out for each other.

“It was about rolling with the punches…. embracing it and see where the year takes us.”

Ollie Florent, Sydney Swans Footballer loved the Hub arrangement believing it gave everyone a chance to get to know each other (and their families) better. He enjoyed seeing the team youngsters perform well during the season.

“I hope we don’t have to do it again but I look at the positives and thought it was a great experience.”

Christian Petracca, Melbourne’s most improved player was asked how he coped with being the number two draft pick when he first joined the AFL and then doing his ACL in the first season. He responded that like all professional footballers he has high expectations of himself and is able to block out the “noise” and work to fulfil his potential.

“It matured me at that time.  Made me adapt and understand that you can’t take footy for granted.”

Following the interviews with the footballers, Peter Burns, SALT CEO, summed up the morning by saying that he believed that SALT had never been more relevant and that they had a mission to help alleviate mental health issues in sporting clubs, schools and businesses.

Finally, David Parkin said how privileged he felt to be a Patron of SALT and how he was there when Dave Burt came up with the concept six years ago.  He reminded attendees that SALT is a not-for-profit organisation that relies on donations and sponsors to fund their great work.

Find out how to donate at https://sportandlifetraining.com.au/donate/.  All donations are fully tax deductable.

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