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Walking to Recovery

May 3, 2017 Responsible Tourism No Comments Email Email

Outback NSW tourism business, Out of the Ordinary Outback, is getting behind a Broken Hill policeman in his energetic bid to raise money for a cause close to his heart.

From May 15-22, 2017, Senior Constable Stuart Churchill will walk 200km from Wilcannia to his station in Broken Hill in far western NSW to raise money and awareness for PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and suicide prevention – two topics he has had very personal encounters with.

Stuart, who is a casual guide with Out of the Ordinary Outback’s tour arm, Tri State Safaris, was diagnosed with PTSD as a result of his work with the NSW Police Force.

“It was a series of events which caused my diagnosis – I was involved with the Malcolm Naden manhunt and came face-to-face with him after he’d shot a police officer the week before,” Sen Const Stuart said.

“I also saw three fatal car crashes in three weeks and at the same time I lost my mother, my father was diagnosed with cancer and my relationship broke down. I did have a suicide attempt, and after that I was diagnosed in Newcastle.”

Stuart took 12 months leave from the police force and thought he’d never return.

“It’s been a long road, walking that road to recovery,” he said.

He started working with the Broken Hill Police Force again in 2015 and decided to raise awareness of the condition to help others in society.

“I want to reach out to others and let them know they’re not alone,” Stuart said. “I have also attended the suicides of a few young indigenous people so I want to let them know the police are here to help.”

Stuart has teamed up with  indigenous patient health centre, Maari Ma, in Broken Hill, which will follow Stuart on his walk with a mobile health truck. The Police Association will provide food and bedding, Coles in Broken Hill is providing groceries for the walk and Out of The Ordinary Outback is contributing accommodation, training gear, clothing and promotional support.

“Being a male and a policeman, I want the community to know I’m here to help,” Stuart said.

“I want people to know that while we have a job to do, police are human too. We can suffer through the incidents we see as well.”

Stuart will walk about 40km per day from May 15 to May 22, 2017.  He will start his journey in Wilcannia and finish in Broken Hill.

This is the third walk of this kind Stuart has done. His first was from RAAF Williamtown base near Newcastle to the site of the Martin Place siege, and the second was from Menindee to Broken Hill.

Stuart has been in the NSW Police Force for 15 years and the Federal Police for four years.

Launched last October by tourism businessman, Scott Smith, Out of the Ordinary Outback includes Tri State Safaris, The Argent Broken Hill motel, Warrawong on the Darling tourist camp and cabins at Wilcannia, the iconic White Cliffs Underground Motel, Cobar’s Copper City Motel, the Ivanhoe Hotel and the Out of the Ordinary Outback visitor centre in the centre of Broken Hill.

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