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Sally's Ride

Mrs Armitage (Launceston) - Mr President, in five days, on 20 November, Sally's Ride will be held leaving from Royal Park in my electorate of Launceston.

Sally's Ride is named after Sally Fletcher. Sally did the first Sally's Ride in 2002, by riding solo around Tasmania to raise important funds for the prevention of youth suicide in Tasmania. All entry fees from Sally's Ride are donated to initiatives which support this cause. Sally has raised more than $250 000 and the Rotary Club of Central Launceston has raised $150 000 for this cause through Sally's Ride.

The background to how Sally Fletcher created this event is important in understanding why she is so passionate about preventing youth suicide. Sally's passion for young people goes back to when she cared for many young people while working as a nurse. Regarding her love of cycling, prior to 2002 she had a serious illness and when she recovered she made a personal commitment to seriously pursue cycling as she had always loved riding her bike as a young girl. Training and competing with the Northern Vets Cycling Club greatly assisted her recovery and she had success at track and road cycling.

There came a point, though, where she wanted to give back to her community and Sally accepted a challenge from well-known Launceston businessman John McKenna, and embarked on a 1400 kilometre, week-long solo ride around Tasmania in 2002.

In the 14 years since that first event, Sally's Ride has received strong support from businesses, community groups, schools, and Rotary in particular. The Rotary Club of Central Launceston has run the event for the past eight years. Five hundred competitors took part last year. The same number is expected again this year. I am a proud and strong supporter of this important local event because of the incredible difference it is making to our community.

In the early days, Sally's Ride partnered with the Australian Rotary Health Research Fund to assist with funding of programs supporting youth. In more recent years, it has had a partnership with, and raised funds for, Resilient Youth Australia.

Last year's recipient of Sally's Ride funding was Launceston City Mission. The City Mission used the money to employ a grief and loss counsellor in northern Tasmanian schools.

For the past three years the funding has also benefited the Connect 6 schools network to help collect data on student resilience. This group comprises Kings Meadows High School, Longford Primary School, Perth Primary School, Evandale Primary School, Glen Dhu Primary School and Youngtown Primary School. Each November students in these schools complete an anonymous online survey. Youngtown Primary School principal and Connect 6 member, Troy Roberts, says -

Results … [give] significant insights about the presence or absence of … indicators of resilience … including mental health, social competence, values, engagement in learning, how personal time is spent, and the types of support available. Importantly there is strong national and international research demonstrating a direct [link] between the numbers of indicators present in a young person's life and the likelihood of engaging in high-risk behaviours, school retention, and suffering from mental health issues.

This information is very important in terms of helping to build resilience in children. It has already resulted in significant measurable improvements to levels of resilience.

Troy Roberts says -

The Connect 6 principals believe that resilience underpins successful learning and therefore paying attention to resilience is part of their core business.

I encourage my fellow members to consider taking part in Sally's Ride on 20 November. You can enter online until 18 November or you can enter on the day. There are a range of rides on offer. The 25 kilometre, which I hope to do, to Legana; 45 kilometre; 70 kilometre; 95 kilometre; and the biggest, the 160 kilometre Gran Fondo. The Gran Fondo takes in both sides of the beautiful Tamar Valley.

I know my fellow members will join me in congratulating Sally Fletcher and the hardworking members of the Rotary Club of Central Launceston for continuing this vital fundraising event, started by Sally 14 years ago.

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