Top Blokes Foundation
Improving the mental health and wellbeing of young men in Toowoomba
Year of grant:
The John Villiers Trust has provided funding for the Top Blokes Foundation to establish their programs in Toowoomba, after the local community reached out for support.
Supporting young country Queenslanders to thrive is a key focus of The John Villiers Trust (JVT), and the Top Blokes Foundation (Top Blokes) is doing just that in Toowoomba, thanks to a grant from JVT.
Local schools and community leaders banded together and requested Top Blokes’ bring their programs to the Toowoomba region, which aim to develop resilience, empathy and respect for self and others, helping to ultimately reduce the rates of mental health issues, suicide, and anti-social and risk-taking behaviours.
The Top Blokes team worked closely with the local community to understand their needs and analyse the scope of support from other organisations in the region to ensure their programs would not overlap with existing services and meet the community’s needs. They also investigated the capacity of the local community to contribute to and sustain the program into the long term.
Rachel Hinds, Top Blokes Queensland State Manager, said it was clear more support was needed for boys and young men in the region.
“Toowoomba and the Darling Downs face some of the highest suicide rates in Queensland with a high proportion of these deaths being young men under the age of 35,” Rachel said.
“We need to be doing more in the early intervention prevention space to ensure our young men have strong mental health foundations. It is so important for our young men to understand that they are not a bystander in their own mental health.
“This is why we are so thankful for the support of The John Villiers Trust to expand our services in Toowoomba and its surrounds.”
Top Blokes aims to positively impact the mental health and wellbeing of over 550 young males in the Toowoomba region through delivery of 48 programs across eight schools, with a minimum of 6,000 hours of mentoring, over the first three years of the program.
JVT’s grant of more than $280,000 over three years is designed to support Top Blokes to work with the local community to build the capacity to not only introduce, but ultimately sustain their programs for boys and young men in Toowoomba.
The majority of the grant has been used in the first year to establish the program with local schools and recruit qualified local staff, and establish partnerships in the community that will allow the program to continue for many years to come. Top Blokes has engaged with local schools, potential local funders, local health services, and the Toowoomba City Council.
Since commencing in 2021, Top Blokes has developed a local Advisory Council, hired two qualified local Youth Workers, held trial programs in three schools, and partnered with eight schools . To date, 96 boys have been involved in the first six months of programs, with over 1,500 hours of mentoring delivered.
While based in Toowoomba, the programs support boys and young men from the surrounding regions, including those from rural and remote communities who attend boarding schools in the city.
JVT CEO Lea-Anne Bradley said the program was an excellent example of how strategic partnerships can make a positive, lasting difference to the lives of young people in country Queensland communities.
“The success of programs like Top Blokes is dependent on the community coming together to not only seek out support, but to engage with it and help sustain it into the long term,” Lea-Anne said.
“After being approached by the community, Top Blokes undertook a great deal of research to understand the need in the region, where there were gaps in existing support programs, and how they could best offer their support.
“We are delighted to see our grant has enabled such a successful start in the Toowoomba region for TBF, and so many boys are already seeing the benefits of these programs.”
Read more about JVT and Top Blokes Foundation