Joe Williams cracks Codes 4 Life
Apr 12, 2019
Services: Codes 4 Life
Joe Williams speaks about the connection between culture and mental health
Former NRL player and professional boxer turned mental health advocate Joe Williams was a guest presenter at a special Codes 4 Life workshop in Alice Springs last week that focused on wellbeing through connection to culture.
Codes 4 Life is a flagship project of Desert Knowledge Australia (DKA) that has been delivered by DKA program manager Michael Liddle since 2015. The program for Aboriginal men was developed by Alyawarre man Mr Liddle with the guidance of his Elders. It aims to drive positive change around men’s behavior by focusing on identity, responsibility and leaving a strong legacy for the next generation.
“Joe and I have known each other for years. After a recent string of tragedies in Aboriginal communities in Central Australia, I knew we needed to have a conversation about Aboriginal mental health and that Joe is one of the best people to do that,” said Mr. Liddle.
Wiradjuri man Joe Williams works with schools and communities to improve mental health, and has written a book about his journey, called Defying the Enemy Within.
While forging a successful career in the NRL and the boxing ring, Williams battled suicidal ideation and bipolar disorder, and survived a suicide attempt in 2012.
“Connection to culture has been so empowering for me, and it plays an important role in keeping mentally healthy,” said Mr. Williams.
While Codes 4 Life is usually delivered to men, last week’s workshop was delivered to Aboriginal men and women alike, with other guest presenters including Joel Liddle (Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute), Sarah Carmody (Central Australian Aboriginal Congress), Jessie Bartlett and Alice Nelson (Red Dust) and Senior Arrernte Elders.
The workshop took place on April 3 and 4, at the Desert Knowledge Precinct.
All photos courtesy of Brett Wheeler/Red Dust.