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Ride for youth brings in $300,000

IN just its second year, a fundraising ride for youth suicide and deliberate self-harm prevention charity Youth Focus looks like raising more than $300,000.

That is about a 100 per cent increase on its result for last year and about one quarter of the charity’s annual budget.

The ride covers more than 600 kilometres from Albany to Perth.

PPB partners Simon Read and Cliff Rocke, who both rode, were instrumental in that fundraising, helping to coordinate the effort and trade off their contacts, with much of the money coming from Perth’s business community.

The insolvency firm put in $6,000 itself.

Another major sponsor of the ride was Hawaiian Management, which has adopted Youth Focus as its main charity.

So too has Woodside.

Mr Rocke said one of the surprising donors to the fundraising effort was the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union.

Its organiser Ian Gill had been representing union members affected by the collapse of Pyrotronics, a company that Mr Rocke was liquidating.

During a lull in proceedings Mr Rocke told him about the ride and Mr Gill said he could probably help raise funds.

In all the CEPU, with help from the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union and the contractors on various jobs including the HiSmelt project, raised about $7,000.

Mr Gill said unions did a lot of fundraising on construction sites because they had "a captive audience".

"All we need is the companies involved to put up some prizes," he said.

Another company taking part in the fundraising effort is Equigold.

It conducts two separate events at its Kirkalocka site near Mt Magnet and its Queensland mine near Mt Penny.

Equigold director Frank Ferguson said the events would probably raise about $30,000.

"Our general manager in Queensland, along with our earthmoving contractor rode from Brisbane to Mt Penny," he said.

"Last year we had a run at our WA mine from Mt Magnet to the minesite, which is about 80 kilometres. This year we’re having a ride."

Mr Rocke said the ride had grown out of a group of Floreat fathers with young children under the guidance of Trench Sportz boss Peter Trench.

The 28 riders had a good support crew that included Youth Focus CEO Jenny Allen, Sir Charles Gairdner emergency medicine specialist Dr Roger Swift and several masseuses.

Besides its fundraising purpose, the riders also gave talks to schools and community groups along their route.

The purpose for the ride was brought home to one of the participants who discovered a suicide in Shelley while training for the event.

Riders included Equigold’s David Lim, Colliers International’s Graham Iddles, Foundation Capital’s Rob Newman, Young Entrepreneurs’ Simon Bairstow and Capital Partners’ David Andrew.

While the ride was well supported and organised, one of the lowpoints for one rider came via an emu that decided it just had to cross the road the cyclists were using.

Ms Allen said Youth Focus hoped to expand its services into regional areas.

She said the charity was unique in the services that it offered, going beyond being a phone help service and offering counselling, camps and doing social work.

It offers assistance to people in the 12 to 18 year old age bracket.

In the past two years there has been increased demand for the charity’s services.

Ms Allen said this meant the charity had not been able to offer help to all of the eligible young people who sought its help.

The charity’s $1.3 million annual budget is funded almost entirely by corporations, grants and private donations.

The WA Government only provides about 7 per cent of the charities budget yet its agencies such as the Department of Education and various hospitals refer people to its service.

In 2001 WA had the second highest number of suicides in Australia, surpassed only by the Northern Territory.

A WA Child Health survey in 1995 found that 16 per cent of adolescents between 12 and 16 years of age in WA had reported having had suicidal thoughts in the previous six months.

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