RELATED CONTENT: ‘We need more trained counsellors’: Connelly
Passionate sadness has been Julie Irwin’s world since losing her precious teenage son Billy to suicide.
It is also powering this brave Moruya mother’s quest to ensure another family won’t feel her pain.
On February 27, the second anniversary of Billy’s death, Ms Irwin and friend and Indigenous counsellor Betty Connelly launched Billy’s Gift, dedicated to preventing suicide and sharing the kindness the 15-year-old was known for.
“We were very fortunate the community supported us and this is our way of giving back to community and supporting and preventing suicide,” Ms Irwin said.
They also launched their joint cross-cultural service, Connelly-Irwin Counselling & Consultancy Services, with the slogan “travel well in mind, body and spirit”, and a grief and loss group.
As the shire’s only qualified Indigenous counsellor, Ms Connelly said the Indigenous community shared the grief of suicide and emotional distress.
“We need to find a solution to how we can become well again,” Ms Connelly said.
She said health would come to all in the community “if we all walk together”.
“One of the things we want to say from the bottom of our hearts is travel well in mind body and spirit,” she said.
The pair are seeking funding and support to have more counsellors trained.
The launch drew some muscular support over cyberspace from footballer and boxer Joe Williams, who frankly shared, via video link, his own struggle with drug and alcohol addiction, suicidal thoughts and bi-polar disorder.
Travelling well in mind, body and spirit resonated for him.
”Reconnecting to culture, to the law, to all of our old stories that have kept us safe; that has been my biggest healer,” Mr Williams said.
“There is something about sitting in the bush, sitting around a fire with those old fellas and connecting to country; something about that that takes away all the problems,” he said.
“Non-Indigenous people may not be able to connect to our culture, but they can connect to the values of respect, humility care.”
Another powerful visitor over cyberspace was North Coast mother Hayley Hoskins, whose teenage son Baylin took his own life last year, shortly after disclosing he was gay. His family formed Baylin’s Gift to help others.
“We started this because we can’t do nothing,” Ms Hoskins said.
“You don’t want that to be the end of your child, you don’t want that to be the thing that people remember them for.”
Visit the connellyirwin facebook page or contact Betty on 0437 728 480. More in Friday’s Bay Post.