Stories

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.

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