29 October 2022

Menslink walkers are taking on a 140 km challenge next week. Here's how you can help.

| Genevieve Jacobs
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group of walkers at Parliament House

Menslink Great Walk 2021 participants reach the end of their trek at Parliament House. Photo: Todd Wright.

Some are nervous, some are excited and others are wondering why on earth they’re doing it again.

For the second year, Menslink has brought together more than 30 Canberra business leaders most often seen behind their executive desks. From Tuesday, they’ll be marching around the Territory on five consecutive (and punishing) walks of around 30kms each.

The walkers will follow much of the Centenary Trail after signing up to raise at least $10,000 each for the cause. Region will report from the trail each day with Facebook live updates and coverage of the days’ challenges.

Region CEO Michael McGoogan is a first-time walker, along with around a third of this year’s participants.

The event raised more than $350,000 in 2021 for Menslink’s work with Canberra’s most vulnerable boys and young men. The charity provides them with mentoring, family support, advocacy and information to get their lives back on track, working closely with them sometimes for years.

Plenty of 2021 participants are fronting up again for the event despite their challenging experiences last year – and being described by the team at Menslink as “the retreads”.

Grae Munro from Detlevs Electrical is a committed Menslink supporter. He described the 2021 walk as “a great experience and a real eye-opener” about the organisation’s work.

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“Developing a greater awareness of how tough life can be for some of these young blokes was a big revelation for me,” he says.

“The guest speakers at dinner every night gave us powerful stories about how hard some people are doing it in our community. They were very insightful about how much guts it takes to climb out of a bad space and get your life back on the rails.”

Grae’s engagement with Menslink has led to hiring staff whom he met through the organisation and, he says, a deeper understanding of how important it is to build strong relationships.

And the walk itself? He laughs and winces at the memory. “I’m a pretty fit bloke but I was not conditioned for walking 150 kms,” he says. “I’d say it was a seven and a half to eight out of 10 in terms of pain levels. It wasn’t that hard, it was more that my conditioning was frankly fairly poor.”

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Kerri Hartland from Proximity group is a first-timer on the walk and one of a growing group of women participating. The former Secretary of the Department of Employment has made some tough calls in her time, but admits she’s still a little daunted by the prospect she’s facing next week.

“I’ve just spent a week walking in the Flinders Ranges so I feel like I’ve done a good piece of the preparation, but I am a little anxious about it all!” she says.

Kerri was looking for some diversity among the charities she supports and was attracted by the work Menslink does in supporting mothers and families. The significant majority of Menslink’s clients come from single parent families headed by women.

“It was a fantastic revelation for me at one of the preliminary events when I heard heartfelt comments from mums about how Menslink was helping them support their sons to become better people,” she says.

“That is a whole of community responsibility. Domestic and family violence has often been a factor in these situations and then young men come through to Menslink as a result. That really motivated me to get involved.”

You can find out more about the walk and donate here. Look out for Region’s coverage throughout the week on the site and across our social media channels.

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