1 July 2022

Guy Sebastian begins 500km walk from Wagga to Sydney for youth mental health

| Chris Roe
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two men walking

Tim Freeburn and Guy Sebastian have begun their 500km walk from Wagga to Sydney. Photo: the Sebastian Foundation.

Wagga music fans were up early today (1 July) to catch Guy Sebastian on stage at the new Murrumbidgee River Precinct.

The Aussie pop superstar and vocal coach on the Seven Network’s “The Voice” was in town to begin an epic walk to Sydney with his best mate Tim Freeburn, for youth mental health.

Early risers were treated to a handful of songs and a chance to walk the first kilometre of the trek towards Junee with the pair.

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“We’ve been planning for about a year, but I don’t think it’s started to compute,” Sebastian said as he contemplated walking 40 to 50 km per day for 12 days.

“Tim’s been training and he’s got the calves to match!” he added with a laugh, indicating his mate’s well-defined leg muscles.

“We’re so proud of what we’re doing … our goal is to raise $1 million for youth mental health programs.”

man with guitar

Early risers were treated to an acoustic performance from Guy Sebastian. Photo: Chris Roe.

The pair work together on projects supported by the Sebastian Foundation and, in particular, the in-school, peer-to-peer program Open Parachute.

“It’s kids sharing about their own mental health battles,” Sebastian explained.

“It’s such a powerful thing too for the kids that actually share their stories and other kids really respond to that.”

Tim Freeburn serves on the Sebastian Foundation board and said it was a late-night conversation that sparked the idea for the “Step Change” walk.

“Guy’s always saying we should do something significant to make a change and make a difference,” he said.

“The Riverina was the first area that put this youth mental health program, Open Parachute, into a school so I said to Guy that we should walk from Wagga to Sydney, and he agreed.”

man in cap

Tim Freeburn has walked more than 4000 km in training for the trek. Photo: Chris Roe.

Freeburn walked more than 4000 km training for the event and said his mate might find the going tough.

“We’ll do 50 km each day, it’s a bit more than a marathon a day so we’ll do the ice baths each night and try and get Guy perked up for the next day,” he said with a laugh.

“He looks fitter than me, but looks can be deceptive and I’ve got him covered I reckon!”

Sebastian’s hit song Choir was inspired by the loss of a close friend and former band member to suicide in 2018.

Freeburn says the death of a 12-year-old girl from Wagga who had been bullied online was another motivation for the walk.

“The regional areas, in particular, get neglected with funding and with support compared to the city areas,” he said.

“It’s pretty special for us to be going through country towns trying to promote this (Open Parachute) and put it in there.

“We fully fund it. So it’s of no cost to the schools and they can reach out through the Sebastian Foundation.”

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Suicide is the leading cause of death for young Australians and psychologist Dr Hayley Watson, from Open Parachute, said the videos of students sharing their stories resonate with other young people.

“Those are shown in a school setting so that every single student can learn from their peers and feel safe to practice mental health skills,” she said.

Every $30 raised on the walk will enable another child to participate in the program and they hope it will ultimately prevent more lives being lost to mental health issues.

You can follow the journey and donate to the cause at the Sebastian Foundation’s Step Change for Mental Health.

If this story has raised concerns for you, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14. If someone is in immediate danger, call 000. Information and support for anxiety, depression and suicide prevention are available through Beyond Blue.

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