Sons of the West ‘Premiership Season’ 2017 Graduation

On Tuesday 1st August more than 200 people attended the Sons of the West ‘Premiership Season’ 2017 Graduation held at the Ballarat Regional Soccer Facility.

It was fantastic to have so many people on hand to recognise the commitment our 110 graduates have made to improve their health. Special guests included Cr Belinda Coates (City of Ballarat), Cr Des Phelan (Mayor of Golden Plains Shire) and Doug Hawkins (Sons of the West Ambassador).

The Sons of the West was introduced to Ballarat last year and this year another two regional sites were added at Smythesdale and Maryborough, providing further opportunity for men in the West of Victoria to improve their health. Along with our graduates from Sebastopol and Wendouree, we were delighted to welcome the 19 graduates from the Smythesdale program to this year’s graduation ceremony.

We again recognised the outstanding achievements of men within the program with the Club Champion Award. This award is used to recognise particular individuals within the program who show the true characteristics of being a member of the Sons of the West. This award is not for the loudest or most charismatic participant, but for the man who continued to show leadership, support for his fellow members, commitment to the education topics, who continued to go out of his way to help others and to promote the teachings of the program, not only to family and friends but to his own community. These individuals were each awarded a Sherrin football signed by the 2017 Western Bulldogs players. Our Club Champions are Shane Harricks (Sebastopol), Frank Cleary (Smythesdale) and Malcolm Burns (Wendouree).

With the graduation hoodies all presented, the Sons of the West ‘Premiership Season’ came to a conclusion. Special thanks to all our program staff and volunteers:

  • Mitch Bowne – Occupational Therapist
  • Jacqui White – Psychologist (Western Victoria Primary Health Network)
  • Brendan Johnson – Program Counsellor (Victoria University Student)
  • Lilly Kerr – Personal Trainer (Macfilly Fitness)
  • Dale Hickey – Operational Support (Federation University Student)
  • Warren Faneco – Accredited Exercise Physiologist (Ballarat Community Health)
  • Tim Graham – Personal Trainer (Integrity Group Fitness)
  • Caroline Matthews – Accredited Exercise Physiologist (St John of God Hospital)
  • Rachel Murphy – Personal Trainer (Sports Central)
  • Maddison Giles – Operational Support (Federation University Student)
  • Emma Powell – Operational Support (Western Bulldogs Football Club)
  • Simon Jinks – Smythesdale Coordinator (Sports Central)
  • Brendan Connor – Operational Support (Federation University Student)
  • Sean Weir – Personal Trainer (SWF 24/7 Gym)
  • Julien Knuppel – Exercise Physiologist (Ballarat Community Health)

We also wish to thank the team from the Western Bulldogs Community Foundation for their ongoing support, including David Pickering-Gummer (Community Health & Wellbeing Manager), Kieran Keane (Community Health Promotion Coordinator), Alyssa Huxtable (Community Health Partnerships Officer) and Catherine Dell’Aquila (Community Health Pathways Coordinator).

Many thanks also to Caroline Amirtharajah (Health & Wellbeing Planner) from the City of Ballarat and Brodie Marston (Recreation Development Officer) from the Golden Plains Shire.

There are exciting times ahead, with the inaugural Daughters of the West program coming to Ballarat in October and of course our graduates look forward to doing it all again when the Sons of the West ‘Preseason’ kicks off in February 2018.

Over the next few months there will also be a number of SOTW Central Highlands physical and social activities for our graduates, along with their family and friends to enjoy.