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Paddling to beat PTSD

Geoff Kelty and Wayne Cole on the Darling River at North Bourke on Saturday. Geoff and Wayne have raised over $12,000 for the Black Dog Institute by paddling from Walgett to Bourke. PHOTO TWH

“Not enough people get the chance to see just how beautiful it is out here”

The allure of the beautiful Darling River and a desire to raise awareness about Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in prison officers were the driving forces behind an epic paddle from Walgett to Bourke.

Kayakers Wayne Cole and Geoff Kelty are both corrective services officers who have their own personal experience facing mental health issues.

They decided to set up a campaign to raise funds for, and awareness about, PTSD among prison officers by embarking on the 730-kilometre trek, arriving in Bourke “saddle-sore” and weary on Sunday morning. Wayne Cole said the trip had changed his life.

“We are seen as the forgotten law enforcement agency,” he explained, “I was diagnosed in December with PTSD and anxiety and I want to encourage others who may be in the same situation to stick their hand up and ask for help.

“Don’t be afraid to start the conversation because there are people out there who can help. All the money we are raising through this kayak trek goes to the Black Dog Institute, which isn’t for counselling but for research into mental illness.

“This trip has been life-changing for me, to see this spectacular river, to wake up as the sun is coming over the horizon and hear the birds. I would encourage everyone to experience this,” he said.

Read more in the printed edition of The Western Herald.

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