The Story of Grit and Resilience

The Grit and Resilience Program came about after the Rural City of Wangaratta and community rallied in 2018 to address mental health and suicide in the municipality. The Federal Government provided financial support of $1.2 million, auspiced by Murray Primary Health Network, which funded the Program in its first years to 30 June 2023. 

Coordinated by the Rural City of Wangaratta, the Program was guided by a consortium of agencies along with four community partners.  

The Program followed the collective impact model and took a community-driven approach to better address and improve mental health and wellbeing and support for those affected by suicide in the Wangaratta municipality.  

In these initial years the Program focused on three priority areas, two of which were directly nominated by community. These priorities were:  

  • Creating connections – improving opportunities for people to connect.  

  • Including and involving – promoting inclusion.  

  • Postvention - promoting a change in community attitudes and in the response of services before and after a death by suicide within our community.  

As the The Grit and Resilience program mobilised various community groups to build strength, courage and connection within the Rural City of Wangaratta community with the goal of these groups becoming sustainable into the future, the community enjoyed a variety of workshops and events as well as the formation of regular groups, many of which continue to meet to this day.  

This is Grit and Resilience

Read news articles and e-newsletters published and see a list of some of the activities delivered under the initial funding of the Grit and Resilience Program below.

News and Media Articles

Some of the community groups that formed during the first years of the Grit and Resilience Program, which still continue to meet.

Blokes Time Out

Blokes Time Out are a group of blokes from across the Wangaratta area who get together once a month to do something social. 

They arrange different activities depending on the interests of the group, it could be recreational activities such as a fishing day, darts or pool competition, a BBQ catch-up or going to listen to live music at a local venue. 

The group is open to anyone over the age of 18. 

How to get involved

If you live in the Wangaratta LGA and this sounds like something you’d be keen on, get in touch with Tim on 0401 768 258 or send an email to and we'll help get you connected. 

More Information 


Book Circles

The Book Circles social group get together once a month. Members read a book they enjoy then talk about it with the group. This is a small friendly group sharing a love of books and reading. No politics or religion. 

How to get involved 

The group meet the second Wednesday of every month from 10am at Bertsy and Co. in Wangaratta. Registration is essential, contact Pauline on



Wangaratta Area Suicide Prevention (WASP)

WASP brings together like minded members of the community and the service network to proactively work towards reducing mental health and suicide stigma across Wangaratta area.

The group aims to do this within the Rural City of Wangaratta by: 

  • organising supportive, inclusive and safe events across Wangaratta and surrounds to bring people together 

  • providing education and training for our community around suicide awareness  

  • running a peer support group for those bereaved by suicide in the Wangaratta community


How to Get Involved 

WASP meet on the third Monday of every month. Registration is essential, to register email


WASP Support Group - for those Bereaved by Suicide

Wangaratta Area Suicide Prevention (WASP) run a peer support group in Wangaratta for those bereaved by suicide. The group is supported by trained facilitators and provides a safe space for people to share their experience without stigma or judgement. 

There are two meeting times (morning and evening) to choose from, both groups meet on the fourth Wednesday of every month.

  • Teal Group: 9:30-11am, Wangaratta Library 
  • Purple Group: 7-8:30pm, Wangaratta Library

More Information 

Registration is not required. All who have lost a loved one to suicide are welcome.

For more information see the poster and brochure below or get in touch with WASP


LGBTQIA+ Family & Friends Support Group

This new supportive and welcoming group for parents, families and carers of trans and gender diverse people is all about connection, support and education. 

This is a friendly, social group for people to connect and share experiences over a bite to eat.  

The group meet on the second Thursday of every month at 5:30pm in Wangaratta (varied locations).

More Information 

If you would like to attend or want to know more, email us for details. 



Wangaratta Board Games Club

Board games are a fun, social hobby that people of all ages and from all backgrounds can enjoy.

Playing games is a great way to meet people and make friends through common interest… Sometimes the best part is the conversation that happens over game play.

The Wangaratta Board Games Club meet on the second Saturday of the month from 10am–12pm at the Wangaratta Library and every third Wednesday of the month from 5.30pm-7.30pm at The Centre- 17 Chisholm Street.

How to Get Involved

There is no need to register just get along and give it a go. You can also connect with the Club via Facebook.

Wang Board Game Club Flyer.png


See a list of some of the activities delivered under the initial funding of the Grit and Resilience Program below.

Winter Solstice 21 June 2023 - Free Bus to Albury

On the longest night of the year, Survivors of Suicide & Friends hosts an event to bring together the community in commemoration of those who have died by suicide. Held annually in Albury on June 21, the Winter Solstice is a free event for all. 

The Grit and Resilience Program arranged a free bus transfer service for residents of the Rural City of Wangaratta to attend the event, to share in the experience with others whose lives have been touched by suicide, or in support of friends and loved ones.


Heartbeat #7- Showcase, Celebrate, Evolve- 7 June 2023

On the 7th of June, the Grit and Resilience Program team came together with community to showcase the amazing feats and celebrate the outcomes achieved by the Grit and Resilience Program over the last few years. This was also a fantastic opportunity to learn how to become involved as the program evolves into the future.

Heartbeat 7 brought the community together with delicious food, music and guest speakers including the incredible Kerrie Hicks from Gritential Coaching, who is committed to empowering people to harness their grit, realise their potential and live their lives to the fullest.

Watch a recording of the event.


Community Training- May 2023

The Grit and Resilience Program partnered with ARCVic and StandBy Support After Suicide to bring the following free training sessions to Wangaratta in May 2023.

safeTALK- Suicide alertness for everyone

3 May 2023 | 6.00pm-9:30pm | The Centre, Chisholm Street Wangaratta 

Participants learnt how to become a suicide alert helper by applying the basic TALK steps (Tell, Ask, Listen, KeepSafe). 

Most people with thoughts of suicide don’t truly want to die but are struggling with the pain in their lives. safeTALK-trained helpers can recognize these invitations and take action by connecting them with life-saving intervention resources. 

safeTALK is a half day face to face workshop facilitated by ARCVic providing hands on skills practice that helps people feel confident so they can help others to stay alive. 

Support Group Facilitation Training

24-25 May 2023 | 9.00am-5.00pm both days | The Centre, Chisholm Street, Wangaratta 

Participants learnt to facilitate a support group. 

Support Group Facilitator Training is a two day, face to face training program that will be facilitated by ARCVic using the Mutual Support Self-Help model. It will cover: 

➢ Knowing and understanding the purpose of support groups 
➢ Identifying expected outcomes for group members 
➢ Establishing aims for each group meeting 
➢ Knowing the facilitator’s responsibilities 
➢ Practicing acquired facilitator skills 

What Do I Say, What Do I Do

30 May 2023 | 6.00pm-9.30pm | The Centre, Chisholm Street, Wangaratta

Participants learnt how to support those bereaved or impacted by suicide. They will learn about different styles of grief, and ways to be supportive after someone has lost a loved one to suicide. 

What Do I Say, What Do I Do is a face to face workshop that will increase your understanding of suicide bereavement and learn basic support skills facilitated by Standby Support After Suicide, Murray. 

community training

Wangaratta Historic Motor Show and Fly In- April 2023

Sunday, April 23- Wangaratta Aerodrome.

The Grit and Resilience Program teamed up with WASP, StandBy Murray, Blokes Time Out and Beyond Blue to create a safe place to chat, talk about Wangaratta's newest Blue Tree and celebrate the Grit and Resilience Program's successes and talk about the future of the program.

Wangaratta Historic Motor Show and Fly In


Heartbeat #6 Footgolf and BBQ- 23 March 2023

The Grit and Resilience Program unfortunately had to cancel its sixth Heartbeat event for the Rural City of Wangaratta community, due to severe weather warnings that were in place.

However a fun evening was planned at the Boorhaman Golf Club on Thursday 23 March 2023 bringing the community together for a bit of fun, to hear what’s planned for the future of the Program and to share with us ideas for building social connection and supporting community mental health and wellbeing. A BBQ dinner and a fun game of footgolf were planned before the event was cancelled!

Heartbeat 6 & 7 Posters (3).png  


Spotlight on You- February and March 2023

It was identified in the 2022 community-wide Youth Survey, that the number one issue facing young people is mental health.

Young people across our community want to help each other when times get tough.

Sometimes young people are not confident that they knew how to support their friends in the best possible way.

The Grit and Resilience Program, Wangaratta Youth Services, headspace Wangaratta, NESAY and Gateway Health partnered up to provide a timetable of workshops for young people, parents and carers in February and March 2023.

Workshops included:

  • Self-Care: Looking after your mental health
  • Looking out for your friends
  • Flourish 1 & 2
  • Connect the lines through Cartooning

Spotlight on You


Pride Fair Day - 10 March 2023

Friday, March 10 4-7pm

The Inaugural Pride Fair Day was an afternoon of celebration of pride in the north-east, with businesses, organisations and community group stalls, food trucks, free family-friendly activities, performances and more!

King George Gardens was transformed into a rainbow carnival for the first large pride celebration event in Wangaratta! Featuring free rainbow showbags, children’s activities, stalls from local community groups with free activities, local businesses selling their rainbow items, plus some fabulous food and drinks from food trucks, this event attracted over 500 people from the community.

This event was supported by the Victorian Government.


Special Screening- Solstice the documentary- 1 March 2023

Special Screening- Solstice the documentary- 1 March, 2023 

The Grit and Resilience Program partnered with Beechworth to Bridge to bring Solstice the documentary to Wangaratta Cinema Centre on Wednesday March 1, 2023.


Solstice is a multi award winning film about survivors of suicide and is a 'powerful testament to the human spirit.' In bringing the screening to Wangaratta we hope to raise awareness of issues related to mental health and suicide and to encourage discussion without stigma, awkwardness or judgement.


VACCA- Koorie Youth Careers Expo - 16 February 2023

VACCA- Koorie Youth Careers Expo

VACCA- Koorie Youth Careers Expo- Thursday 16 February 2023

The Grit and Resilience Program was proud to sponsor the Koorie Youth Careers Expo, on Thursday 16th February from 4pm at King George Gardens, Wangaratta.

This successful event included free activities including virtual reality, a submarine tunnel, virtual boat tour, giant lawn games, plus free food and drinks.  Free buses from both Benalla and Wodonga were also oganised.



New faces on Grit and Resilience Consortium- October 2022

New faces

Two new community partners have been added to the Wangaratta Grit and Resilience Program consortium.

Ronan Holdsworth, who is known for his mural work around the district, and Richard Grogan, the newly-installed president of the Wangaratta Players, have taken on the recently advertised positions.

They join Caz Sammon and John Davis, who have been community partner members of the consortium since September 2020 and will be part of the programs efforts to build an inclusive, supportive and well connected community.

The Grit and Resilience Festival - 10 October 2022

GNR-005 Grit and Resilience Festival social.jpg We marked World Mental Health Day on Monday 10 October 2022, with the first Grit and Resilience Festival in partnership with Mind Australia and the Centre Against Violence.

Over 200 community members took part in the Festival in King George Gardens between 4-6pm. 

The Festival included over 20 mental health and wellbeing services each providing fun and engaging activities, set to a festival backdrop of live music, drop-in yoga sessions, food, drink and fun.



Art is in Our Heart - Inclusive Art Workshops - July - September 2022

Art is in the Heart logo w font (1).jpg Art is in our Heart are a group that formed with the support of the Grit and Resilience Program in late 2021.

The group held a series of art workshops across the Rural City of Wangaratta from April – June 2022. Following the success of these workshops, the group formed a partnership with the Wangaratta Library to deliver an additional 13 workshops from July – September 2022.

The workshops were free and accessible for all members of the community to connect through creative expression.  

Workshops included: 

  • Watercolour monsters 

  • Rock painting 

  • Mindfulness 

  • Lino cut printing 

  • iPhone photography 

  • Paint pouring 

  • Cake decorating 

  • Vision boarding  

  • Quilling 

  • Meat smoking 

  • R U OK? Day Morning Tea 

  • Cosplay  

  • Recycled Art (in partnership with RCoW Youth Services) 


Mindframe Training - July 2022

Mindframe Training - FB (Instagram Post) (1).png The Grit and Resilience Program partnered with Everymind to bring Mindframe training to Wangaratta in July 2022. The training is intended to empower and equip the local community and organisations to safely communicate about suicide and suicide prevention.  

Two online training sessions were delivered for the Rural City of Wangaratta. The first session, on Tuesday 5 July, was for organisations, communications teams and local media with a focus on upskilling key spokespeople and those in media and communication roles to provide safe comment and reporting. 

The second session on Wednesday 6 July, was open for all community members and provided an in-depth look at the Mindframe guidelines and safe and responsible ways to communicate including about personal experience, help-seeking and selfcare. 

Blue Tree

 A TREE on Wangaratta-Whitfield Road has been painted blue as an ongoing remembrance of those lost to suicide. Part of the national Blue Tree Project charity, the tree is also designed to be a conversation starter around mental health issues and suicide, and aims to encourage people to speak up when battling mental health concerns. By ‘spreading the paint and spreading the message’ that it’s okay to not be okay, the project hopes to break down the stigma still attached to mental health in the community.

For details about the origins of the Blue Tree Project, visit 


Winter Solstice June 2022 - Free Group Bus

Winter Solstice (1).png On the longest night of the year, Survivors of Suicide & Friends hosts an event to bring together the community in commemoration of those who have died by suicide. Held annually in Albury on June 21, the Winter Solstice is a free event for all. 

This was the third year that Grit and Resilience supported the event and in 2022 arranged a free bus transfer service for residents of the Rural City of Wangaratta to attend the event, to share in the experience with others whose lives have been touched by suicide, or in support of friends and loved ones.


Grit and Resilience Heartbeat 4 - June 2022

Heartbeat 4 (8).png Every three months the Grit and Resilience team get together with community to talk about the Program activities to share information and learnings and to support community participation in the Program design.  

The Program team held their fourth Heartbeat in June 2022 inviting community members and stakeholders to join them for a discussion and to share experiences of the Program so far. This Heartbeat was also an opportunity to help shape the direction of the Program and activities for the remainder of the funding period. 

Participants responded to questions about four key areas of the Program. The sessions were provided face-to-face and online, with an opportunity to provide a written response for those who were unable to attend.    

EMDR Training - May 2022

MicrosoftTeams-image (14).png In partnership with Gateway Health, Grit and Resilience supported delivery of Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) training in Wangaratta in May 2022. 
EMDR Therapy is recommended by the World Health Organization for the treatment of PTSD in adults and children (2013) and included in the MBS Focused Psychological Strategies. This training helped the mental health professionals who attended to develop skills in high level trauma treatment to support and build the resilience of their communities. The participants are now on their way to becoming accredited practitioners for the north east region.


The training was provided by Trauma Recovery Network Australia and the Rotary Districts 9800 and 9820 who fully funded the training as part of the bushfire recovery response to the 2019-20 Victorian bushfires.  

Art is in Our Heart Workshops & Exhibition April - June 2022

Art is in our Heart Group_cropped.pngOn 1 April 2022, the Grit and Resilience gallery at the Wangaratta Visitor Information Centre was launched with an opening event for the Wangaratta community.  

From April to June 2022 the gallery exhibited the artworks created by community members in a series of free and inclusive workshops organised by the Art is in our Heart group.  Nine workshops were delivered over the three months, with most quickly booking out and receiving highly positive feedback. 

Art is in our Heart formed with the support of the Grit and Resilience Program in late 2021 with the aim of providing opportunities for people to connect through art as a medium.   

On the back of this success, the Wangaratta Library partnered with Art is in our Heart and the Grit and Resilience Program to extend the series of workshops for a further three months from July-September 2022.  

Project 365 - U Can Cry


Project 365 is a group of community members who have all been impacted by mental health or suicide, either through their own experience, or by supporting others on their journey. With a shared love of music, the group formed a band, called U Can Cry.

The project which was about starting a conversation about mental health and spreading the message 'It's okay not to be okay'. They practiced their songs for 365 days before performing two shows at the Wangaratta Performing Arts and Convention Centre on May 7 and 8 2022.

From the performances they raised over $30,000 which they donated to Give Wangaratta, a sub fund of the Into Our Hands Foundation.

The Grit and Resilience Program supported U Can Cry on their 365 day journey, helping them to achieve their goal of performing on stage for the Rural City of Wangaratta community and to raise awareness of mental health. 


Whitfield Family Movie Night - Saturday 23 April 2022

Whitfield Movie Night Post.png In partnership with Kerbside Cafe, the King River & District Fishing Club and local King Valley residents, we supported a family movie night at the Whitfield Recreation Reserve on Saturday 23 April. The feature movie was Clifford the Big Red Dog.  


The event was an opportunity for families and local residents to come together and connect for an evening of outdoor cinema fun. 

More Information 


Community Garden Open Day - Sunday 20 March 2022

Community Garden.png Community gardens are a great way of connecting with others in your community and getting involved in gardening and growing food.

The Wangaratta Community Garden in partnership with Grit and Resilience and the Rural City of Wangaratta, held an open day on Sunday 20 March from 9am – 12pm at 36 Wills Street Wangaratta.

The open day included guided tours of the garden with Wangaratta Community Garden members, learning about ways to get involved as an edible garden grower, or simply as a social member.

Community Garden members provided guidance and inspiration on growing fruit and vegetables at home, the best time of year for planting, and how to start a compost. There was also live cooking demonstrations on making easy, affordable, and delicious meals using whatever you have at home. 


WASP Logo Competition

WASP Winning Logo.PNG The Wangaratta Suicide Prevention Network reformed as WASP (Wangaratta Area Suicide Prevention) in late 2021 and needed a new logo to go with their new name. WASP ran a logo design competition inviting community members to design and submit a logo idea that reflects the purpose of WASP, which is:  

“Mental health awareness and suicide prevention across the Rural City of Wangaratta.” 

The competition closed on 28 February 2022 with the winning logo announced on 17 March 2022. The winning logo will be used for branding purposes on all forms of WASP media and merchandise.  

The competition details are included below for information purposes, however please note that the competition is now closed

Competition Details (historic)

  1. Download and complete the entry form(PDF, 151KB).
  2. Create your design using no more than three colours and no text.
  3. Submit your entry either: 
  • Electronic submission: email your entry form and design in PDF format to:
  • Hardcopy: drop your entry form and design off at the Council office, Government Centre Wangaratta, or the Wangaratta Library.

Important Dates  

Competition opened: 9am Monday 14 February 2022

Competition closed: 4pm Monday 28 February 2022

WASP shortlisted the top three entries and presented to the community for voting.  

The winning logo was announced on the WASP Facebook page on Thursday 17 March. 

The top ten entries will also be displayed in the Grit and Resilience gallery located in the Wangaratta Visitor Information Centre throughout April-June 2022.


Mutual Self-help Support Group Facilitator Training - February 2022

In February 2022, 15 passionate people participated in training to become peer support group facilitators, including 5 members of Wangaratta Area Suicide Prevention (WASP).

The two and a half day training program gave participants the knowledge, skills and confidence to become effective group leaders and run effective self-help groups, including suicide bereavement support groups.

WASP is preparing to establish a support group for those bereaved by suicide, and the newly trained members will play a vital role in making sure the group is safe and supported. 

The training was funded by Murray PHN, delivered by Anxiety Recovery Centre (ARC Vic) and supported by the Grit and Resilience Program.



Listening To Voices Performance & Workshop - December 2021

Listening to Voices Theatre performedimage-listening-to-voices.jpg Hero of Myself at the Wangaratta Performing Arts Centre on Wednesday 15 December 2021, supported by Grit and Resilience Program in partnership with the Rural City of Wangaratta’s Community Resilience and Recovery Program and Gateway Health.  

Hero of Myself is an award winning, heartfelt, unique performance directed by one of Australia’s most experienced community development artists, Catherine Simmonds OAM.  

Throughout the performance, presumptions and preconceptions about mental health are highlighted and questioned by actual accounts that are powerful, warm and hopeful.  

A workshop with the Listening to Voices crew and creative director Catherine Simmonds was provided the following day on Thursday 16 December providing an opportunity for participants to connect, reflect and workshop their own stories. 

For more information about Listening to Voices, click here



Hearten Up Mental Health First Aid community training - December 2021

Hearten UpWe partnered again with Hearten Up to provide free Mental Health First Aid training to community members from the Rural City of Wangaratta in November/December 2021. Community members participating in activities currently delivered and supported by the Grit and Resilience Program were invited to participate.

In total, 32 people participated to become accredited Mental Health First Aiders, learning how to assist someone who may be experiencing a mental health problem, or mental health crisis, until appropriate professional help is received or the crisis resolves. 

For more information about Hearten Up's work with the Wangaratta community and Mental Health First Aid click here



Be the Light - World Suicide Prevention Day 2021

Social Media Tile_Be the Light (1).png

 In acknowledgement of World Suicide Prevention Day, the Wangaratta Beacon was lit in Grit and Resilience colours on Friday 10 September to raise awareness of the Program and to support the Wangaratta community to be a ‘beacon of light to those in pain’.

People across the Rural City of Wangaratta were asked to show the community that there is a light by sharing the ‘be the light’ tile on their social media channels on 10 September, tagging @GritandResilienceProgram and #WSPD2021.  

Winter Solstice 2021

Winter Solstice Image.jpg In 2020 the Grit and Resilience Program partnered with the Youth Council to develop an edited excerpt of the documentary “Solstice”. This also included advertising the online Winter Solstice for 2020.

In 2021, we launched our social media platform and this provided the opportunity to revisit this activity and support the hybrid 2021 Winter Solstice.

View the Video


Grace Under Pressure performance - May 2021

Grace Under Pressure hero-vertical With Title.jpg On 8 May 2021, the Grit and Resilience Team In Partnership with StandBy - Support After Suicide sponsored a performance of Grace Under Pressure at the Wangaratta Performing Arts Centre & Convention Centre. There were 100 GP’s and other health professionals who attended this networking event.

By David Williams & Paul Dwyer in collaboration with the Sydney Arts & Health Collective. 

Health professionals are with us when we’re born, and they’re with us when we die. They devote their lives to caring for us, but how do we care for them? Can a doctor or nurse give a patient the best possible care if he or she hasn’t slept for days? What if they are also being bullied or sexually harassed at work? What if they complain about having to work excessive hours, but are told to stop whining and suck it up? How do they cope with the pressure?  



Sponsored International Day of People with Disability event - 2020

International Day of People with Disability

We sponsored the online International Day of People with Disability 2020 event, which was hosted by comedian and disability advocate Oliver Hunter.

The event aimed to break down barriers, educate and increase inclusion within the Rural City of Wangaratta community. 


Watch the online event

StandBy Support After Suicide community training - November 2020

We partnered with StandBy Support after Suicide and Connect Benalla to provide two training sessions to 103 community members across Murray PHN catchment. 

This training equipped community members with basic support skills, and increased understanding of suicide bereavement. 

Hearten Up Mental Health First Aid community training 2020

Hearten Up

We have partnered with the Hearten Up Community Program, which provides mental first aid training to people living in regional areas.

Rates of suicide are statistically higher in regional areas, and resources are often less readily available. Our funding covered overhead costs for the eLearning component of the Hearten Up Program, meaning participants were able to access this valuable training at no cost. 

Find out more about the Hearten Up Community Program.

Mindframe training for 39 community members - August 2020


We partnered with Mindframe to provide training for 39 community members in August 2020. This training equipped participants with the skills, knowledge and confidence to sensitively communicate about suicide using best practice guidelines.  

Four Community Partners Appointed for 2020/21

We've recently appointed four community partners to govern the program and make sure the community is heard. Your Community Partners are:

Caz Sammon
Caz Sammon 
 Mum to three boys and a Wangaratta resident of 20 years, Caz has a strong interest in general and mental health and well-being. Caz is an engaged community member and volunteer, with extensive experience leading teams from grass roots to board level.    
John Davis John Davis
John is a recently retired Anglican Priest and has called the region home for 20 years. John provided emergency ministry at the Wangaratta evacuation centre during the 2020 bushfires and is currently the president of Voices for Indi, which encourages equality representation in government and stronger community participation. In 2019, John and his husband became the first Anglican same sex clergy couple to marry in Australia. 
Ruby Sait Ruby Sait
 Ruby is 18 year-old with a passion for journalism, completing her senior year of VCAL at GOTAFE Wangaratta. Between the age of 16 and 17 Ruby lived in Residential Care, an experience which motivated her to apply for the program.
 Chelsea Wilson Chelsea Wilson
Chelsea is an empathetic young person, passionate about mental health, advocating for others, and helping the world change. Chelsea aspires to become a social worker and to work with children, youth and families going through trauma and mental health issues. 

Wangaratta Sketch Group

The Wangaratta Sketch Group was a social group that typically met fortnightly, including an outing once a month to explore amazing places across the Rural City of Wangaratta.  


The group enjoyed the relaxation of sketching their surroundings, meeting new people, making friends, and going on adventures.