Dual Asia Pacific CEO, Damien Coates recently completed a mammoth bike ride for mental health charity The Black Dog Institute (BDI). Coates rode from Perth to Broome, cycling 1,200km over eight days in sweltering heat, often in temperatures over 40 degrees.

This is the third TourXOz event Coates has competed in and he has accepted they are extremely challenging events. He said, “I keep coming back because this cause is so important to me.” TourXOz aimed to raise funds to support mental health and the work of BDI, a world leader in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder.

BDI has been campaigning to encourage Australians to be healthy and active for both physical and mental health and according to them, one in five workers in Australia experience a mental health condition, and the country’s suicide rate is the highest it’s been in 10 years.

The TourXOz team embarked on this ride for all the right reasons said BDI director and chief scientist Helen Christensen. “It comes directly from sharing their own lived experience, or that of friends and relatives, in the hope of encouraging open discussions around mental illness and encouraging people to seek the help they need.”

Coates said, “On the ride there were so many people in the towns we visited that were experiencing mental health issues, particularly in the remote Aboriginal communities in the Kimberleys”. Over 60 other riders took part in the event raising over $318,000 for BDI with Coates alone raising more than $15,000. He said, “I am very proud I have raised over $200K over the last five years to support these incredibly important charities and many of you have supported me in numerous donations for which I am forever appreciative of your generosity and support of me and these charities. It is incredibly touching for me.”

“Many of the riders also told stories of their journeys whether it be a young lady whose father committed suicide, or a father whose 14 year old daughter had committed suicide, through to a former policeman who had suffered for many years following post traumatic stress from the scenes he had discovered.”

“The one constant thing that is reinforced in any of the events I have done to support mental health, whether it be Black Dog or Beyond Blue, is that the best thing for anyone struggling with mental health is talking, diet and exercise and that is the best advice I can give anyone,” Coates continued.

The event is the brainchild of Viostream chief executive Neil Jackson and McAfee ANZ managing director Gary Denman and TourXOz 2017 was launched by WA deputy premier and health minister Roger Cook, who joined the peloton to the outskirts of Perth. Former AFL player Adam Goodes and SBS commentator Mike Tomalaris also joined Cook.