Inspired to make a difference to mental health in regional Queensland.
RideWest is inspired to make a difference to mental health for regional Queenslanders. By raising vital funds and awareness of the need for more mental health support programs for people living in regional areas.
RideWest is a 1,311km biennial bike ride from Brisbane to Longreach raising money for mental health support programs for regional Queenslanders.
Over the last 13 years, the ride has raised over $1,965,000 for the Royal Flying Doctor Service so that they can deliver their Wellbeing Out West program.
Together with raising vital funds, RideWest sees the importance of raising awareness, educating and destigmatising mental health as being of equal importance. Working together with the RFDS to bring more mental health services to regional areas through their Wellbeing Out West programs.
The ride is a challenge. It is about digging deep, working as a team and reaching out to support each other. The ride is 1,311kms across 8 days. In a peleton, this equates to about 6 - 8 hours riding every day.
Travelling from Brisbane to Longreach through terrain that personifies outback Queensland, stopping in remote local towns, it brings the RideWest team into the heart of regional Queensland where we are embraced by the community culture.
The idea for RideWest was born in 2009, when founder, Les Hancock ,who had a visited law office in Longreach ,learnt of the Primary Care mental health program that the RFDS had not long started out of Longreach to address the extremely high suicide rate in Outback Queensland.
With wife Shelley, they decided not only to raise funds to support and grow the service, but equally to create awareness. Motivated to make a difference Les set about putting together a team to bring RideWest to life. Les and Shelley, together with their cyclist son Damian, cyclist friend Brendan Wright, Kim Lindsay of Lindsay Australia with logistics support and NAB with a financial sponsorship, were able to get their first ride underway in May 2010.
With a dedicated support crew and passionate riders, RideWest continued to grow, and the ride took place every two years including 2012, 2014 and 2016 before John Sloman and wife Petrea took over the leadership and logistics roles. They, with the support of many incredible sponsors and volunteers, have been able to take RideWest to another level.
While we have managed to raise some incredible funds, we are aware that mental health in rural communities continues to be critical issue. In early 2017 the Royal Flying Doctor Service released a research paper entitled “Mental Health in Rural and Remote Communities”. This new research reveals remote Australians die on average from suicide at twice the rate of city people, yet are only able to access mental health services at a fifth of the rate of city people. It also identifies farmers as among the most at risk of suicide.
RideWest is committed to ongoing fundraising, education and awareness raising to ensure that our cousins in the country have access to the support services they so desperately need.