Ryan’s parents Robyn and Steve Youngberry with KCCI Executive member David Musch, centre, who was Ryan’s employer

June 18, 2021

Ryan Youngberry should have been celebrating his 30th birthday this week. Instead his family was gathered at the Kingaroy Town Hall early on a chilly Friday morning to help launch the Kingaroy Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s mental wellbeing “SMILE” project.

SMILE stands for “Supporting Mental Wellbeing through Information, Leadership, Education”.

Steve and Robyn Youngberry are the ambassadors for the initiative.

In an emotional speech, they shared their story with the audience and how Ryan’s sudden death in December last year had affected everyone around him.

The death also shook up members of the KCCI executive, who became determined that business owners should have somewhere to access help if they or their employees need a hand.

The Youngberrys were joined on stage at the launch by Queensland Mental Health Commissioner Ivan Frkovic who noted that Australia has a rate of suicide rate that’s “totally unacceptable” for a country of this wealth.

He praised the KCCI for taking the lead in this critical aspect.

Mr Frkovic said everyone could feel vulnerable at some stage, especially during this time of pandemic.

He said when organisations such as the KCCI – that weren’t usually associated with mental health initiatives – started talking about issues like this it broke down barriers and helped people to realise it’s not weak to seek help.

“It’s like starting small fires. Each of you is a small fire,” he said.

He commended the Youngberrys for sharing their story.

“This is a tragic opportunity to work further on the mental health of your community,” Mr Frkovic said.

Kingaroy Town Hall was filled with more than 150 people for the launch … there were community members, representatives from the South Burnett Suicide Prevention Working Group, councillors, police, social workers, psychologists and many KCCI members.

Another guest speaker was former NRL and international rugby league player David Shillington.

David is now CEO of Wellbeing Code, an organisation which aims to use the influence of elite athletes to destigmatise mental health issues.

Videos by former Kingaroy sport stars Matt Ballin (NRL) and Berrick Barnes (Wallabies) – who are supporting the SMILE project – were also shown.

SMILE is being run with the guidance of KCCI member Michael Sanford, from Bunyarra Counselling and Mediation.

There will be training sessions available for business owners and their staff members.

Mental health issues in the South Burnett were highlighted late last year in Parliament by Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington who said at the time the South Burnett had the highest rate of suicide in Queensland.

Figures shared recently with the South Burnett Regional Council suggest the average suicide rate in Australia is 12 per 100,000 people. In the South Burnett (excluding Cherbourg) it was more like 100 per 100,000.

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Cutting the cake officially launched the SMILE project … Steve and Robyn Youngberry with Ryan’s brother Brady and Brady’s fiancée Megan
Bunyarra Counselling’s Michael Sanford with members of the KCCI Executive and guest speaker David Shillington

Guest speaker David Shillington with KCCI Executive member Darrin Kefford (Kingaroy Joinery)

CROW-FM’s Shaz Birkett joined with fellow announcer Matt Collins to broadcast live from the launch
Queensland Mental Health Commissioner Ivan Frkovic with South Burnett CTC CEO and KCCI Executive member Nina Temperton
Kingaroy Rotary Club members had a very early start on a cold morning, cooking breakfast in the Glendon Street Forecourt … three of the team, from left, Gus Napier, Vince Evans and Ray Pitt
Representatives from Council, local businesses and the general community were at the Kingaroy Town Hall for the SMILE launch

[UPDATED with correction]


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