Mayor’s Charity Ball back and ready to shake off COVID blues

Dust off your frocks and suits and shake away the COVID blues – the Mackay Mayor’s Charity Ball is back.

Following a COVID-enforced hiatus in 2020, the Ball will be held at the MECC on May 15.

“This will be one of the first big social events in Mackay since COVID-19 restrictions caused havoc early last year, so we think there will be a big crowd eager for a party,’’ Mayor Greg Williamson said.

“The 2021 event will be held under the MECC’s COVID Safe Plan and precautions will be in place, but we’ll still be able to accommodate a good-sized crowd in the Plenary Halls for the Ball,’’ he said.

“Much of the planning for the 2020 ball, such as theming and entertainment, had been done before COVID-19 forced it to be postponed, so organisers picked up where they left off for this year’s event.

“Many of sponsors, including platinum sponsors DGH, Fergus Builders and DBCT, have also remained onboard.”

A launch for sponsors and recipients was held at the MECC North Foyer tonight (Friday, March 19) and tickets for the Ball are now on sale.

Proceeds for the 2020 ball were to have been shared 50-50 by Mackay’s Domestic Violence Resource Service (DVRS) and Heartkids and they will remain the recipients for this year’s Ball.

This 2019 Mayor’s Charity Ball raised more than $121,000, including a $50,000 donation on the night by Mackay Foundation, to help Mackay kids experiencing trauma through domestic and family violence and sexual abuse.

The funds were donated to the DVRS to reach more children in need through additional counselling services.

Executive Director Linda-Ann Northey said those 2019 funds made a huge difference to the capacity of the service response and to the many children and their families who would otherwise have been unable to receive specialist counselling support.

“We were able to employ a full-time specialist Child and Adolescent Counsellor to support an average of 25 additional children and their families each week,’’ she said.

“The funds supported an immediate solution and response for children who otherwise may not have been able to be seen that year or, due to the delay of immediate need, perhaps not able to be seen at all.

“The immediate intervention and prevention responses are anticipated to have positively reduced the longer-term trauma impacts for an estimated 150 additional children and their families over that year.”

Ms Northey said a worrying trend right now was the increasing number of young men and adolescent boys who had experienced domestic or sexual violence and abuse, and who were suffering extreme trauma impacts.

“Those who are being referred to our service are displaying trauma-related depression and suicidal thoughts, and many are lashing out and becoming aggressive to others, particularly toward their mums,’’ she said.

“ The pending referrals for child counselling at our service for young men and adolescent boys – and their mums, brothers and sisters – is currently equivalent to a full-time counsellor’s caseload for a year.

“Our priority over the coming year is to provide timely and innovative trauma-informed counselling and healing supports to respond more immediately and effectively to the young men and boys in our community.

“We would particularly like to trial a combination of coordinated counselling responses incorporating a team of both male and female counsellors.

“We recognise that, ideally, these young men and boys benefit most from nurturing and trauma-informed practice, which include the observation of positive male and female role models who work together to demonstrate healthy communication and equality in relationships.”

This year will be the first that Heartkids will benefit from proceeds from the Mackay Mayor’s Charity Ball.

HeartKids is the only national not-for-profit organisation focused on enhancing the quality of life and helping secure the future of all Australians impacted by congenital/childhood heart disease (CHD). Every day in Australia eight babies are born with congenital heart disease and sadly four lives are lost each week.

HeartKids Queensland manager Holly Williams, who attended tonight’s launch, said funds raised would be used to support Mackay children and families.

“There are about 300 individuals living in the Mackay region who are directly impacted by CHD,’’ she said.

“Family support is a vital component of the HeartKids Support Program. Funds raised will enable HeartKids to employ a Family Support Coordinator for Mackay who will be based within the community and provide ongoing peer-to-peer emotional support for individuals and families.”

“HeartKids Family Camp is another project that will provide families from the Mackay region the opportunity to partake in life-improving activities in a supportive environment, alongside a team of volunteers, over three days and two nights.”

Background

The 2021 Mayor’s Charity Ball is being organised by a committee made up by representative of the community, Mackay Regional Council and the MECC.

The Ball was previously organised by Sunrise Rotary Club of Mackay for 15 years and raised more than $600,000 for charity during that time. Council and the MECC played a greater role in organisation of the 2019 Ball, joining Sunrise Rotary representatives on an organising committee.

Following the record success of that ball, the club decided to hand the reins over to a community committee, with support again from council and the MECC.

Sponsors this year include (platinum) DGH Engineering, Fergus Builders, Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal (DBCT); (bronze Pointglen Developments, Envision Plastering and Construction, Uniform Solutions, DBCT Management, North Queensland Bulk Ports; and (media partners) Daily Mercury, Channel 7, Southern Cross Austereo’s Triple M and Tropical Exposure.