5 November 2023

Menslink walkers have hills to climb and miles to go this year, for the very best of reasons

| Genevieve Jacobs
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Great Walk logo

The original Menslink Great Walk was held in 2021. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

The prospect would daunt anyone: 30 kilometres per day, five days, many long, exhausting hours of walking in all kinds of weather.

But when Catherine Coles from family lawyers Parker Coles Curtis sets out on the Menslink walk on Tuesday (7 November), she does so with plenty of inspiration and, hopefully, the wind at her heels.

“I believe so passionately in the organisation and the work it does,” she said.

“I’m a family lawyer and an independent children’s lawyer and I often refer the children I represent for help and support from Menslink.

“It’s so helpful for clients and particularly mothers who don’t have a positive male role model for their sons. The boys get mentoring and support and it makes a world of difference when they are struggling.

“Their mums who are raising children on their own – and often fleeing domestic violence – also get so much help from the work Menslink does.”

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Catherine is among around 30 walkers who will be participating in the third annual fundraising walk, which aims to direct $350,000 in funds towards Menslink’s work with some of 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.

The walk traces the Centenary Trail around Canberra’s perimeter, showcasing the beauty of the bush capital. Walkers aim to raise at least $10,000 each (many contribute more) as they complete around 30 km each day.

And while previous walkers have experienced everything Canberra’s spring weather can throw at them, there’s some hope that this year’s walk will be both dry and warm.

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Catherine said she’s been preparing with long weekend walks and in the past has notched up a half marathon. It will also be the first time she’s left her four-year-old and six-year-old for such a length of time.

“I’m a little nervous,” she admitted. “But I’m also encouraged that like-minded people are doing it. It’s a little bit like race day, where the nerves spur you on. And I’m looking forward to the conversations and the team energy.”

Strong relationships have been formed on past walks – returning walkers are known as the “retreads” – and interaction each night with guest speakers and people with lived experience can make a powerful impact.

For walkers who are scaling the heights in their careers, it can be a powerful jolt of reality to understand just how tough it is for some in the Canberra community, no matter their background.

Region co-CEO Tim White will be among the walkers this year, following co-CEO Michael McGoogan who walked last year and group editor Genevieve Jacobs, who has walked twice.

Region will cover the walk and fundraising efforts throughout the week, beginning on Tuesday.

You can find out more about this year’s walk and how to donate via the Menslink Great Walk website.

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