People from Victoria’s Deaf, hard of hearing and hearing friends’ community joined a bushwalking challenge along Mornington Peninsula’s stunning Two Bays Trail on 14 December to highlight the importance of understanding mental health issues often faced by people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Karli Deaf Health and Deaf Bushwalking Victoria, supported by Parks Victoria and Deaf Children Australia, organised the event that included 13 and 26 km walks from Dromana to Cape Schanck.
As reported in the Parks Victoria media release, Karli Dettman from Karli Deaf Health said this was the final in a series of challenges that aim to raise funds for research investigating the Australian deaf community’s mental health and to improve education, awareness and access to mental health care.
“Participants have also completed walks in the Dandenong Ranges National Park, the Surf Coast Walk and the Lerdederg State Park to prepare for the 26km walk along the Two Bays Trail. They have found them immensely enjoyable walks, appreciating the beauty of nature and feeling exhilarated after walking long distances in good company,” said Simon Andersson, organiser of Deaf Bushwalking Victoria.
“Our deaf community face many challenges, including serious mental health issues that can develop from isolation in mental health hospitals where interpreters are not often booked and staff are not skilled in Auslan or knowledgeable in Deaf culture or Deaf people’s unique needs.
“Deaf and hard of hearing people are often behind in getting appropriate and accessible information about where to get help and miss out on immediate mental health care or early intervention, which can cause untreated and undiagnosed health issues.
“I am hoping that with research from a Deaf and Hard of Hearing team, they will be able to identify the gaps and what is needed to avoid serious mental health problems in the Deaf community, hard of hearing people and deafened people. We are also hoping to pilot an outreach Deaf mental health team in Victoria who can travel, consult and educate professionals at schools, local mental health communities and hospitals and so on” she said.
Parks Victoria’s John Kenwright said he was really pleased to support the campaign and was keen to continue supporting deaf people to get active in parks.
“This fantastic project fits well with Parks Victoria’s Healthy Parks Healthy People approach. Research tells us that a regular dose of nature is hugely beneficial for people’s health and wellbeing. Whether it’s taking in the sweeping views along Victoria’s mountain ranges or coastlines, spotting native animals or plants or simply enjoying a stroll, picnic or bicycle ride in your local park; being outdoors can help people relax, feel more positive and enjoy connecting with their surrounds.
“It’s really important that the wonders of nature in our parks are available for everyone. Parks Victoria is keen to continue working with the deaf community to ensure they can enjoy all that our parks have to offer,” he said.
This project has also been supported by the Australian Sign Language Interpreters Association of Victoria, Auslan Services, Green Door Auslan, Auslan Company, Deaf Sports and Recreation Victoria, and Deaf Victoria.
View the Youtube clips of the Two Bays Trail walk.