National Conference on the Mental Health of First Responders

Allan has been a beyondblue Ambassador since 2013 and since that time has delivered presentations to thousands of Australians across the country about mental illness, PTSD, suicide and physiological resilience.  He has been actively involved with a vast number of first responder agencies including the Australian Crime Commission, the Australian Federal Police, NSW Police Force, A.C.T Police Force, Victoria Police force, NSW Ambulance Service, the West Australian Fire and Emergency Services, NSW Corrective Services as well as the Australian Defence Force. Allan is a volunteer member of the NSW Police Mental Health Intervention Training Team, a member of the New South Wales Mental Health Commission Suicide Prevention Advisory Panel and a member of the National Leadership Group of Suicide Prevention Australia. On the 23rd of March, 2016 Allan will be particpating in the first ever National Conference on the Mental Health of First Responders in Sydney.  He will be taking part in the panel discussion with beyondblue Chairman, Mr Jeff Kennett AC, Michael Pietrus, Director MHFA & Opening Minds, Mental Health Commission of Canada, Andrew Douglas, Principal and Practice Group Head (Vic) – Workplace Relations, Macpherson Kelley Lawyers and Nick Arvanitis, Head of Workplace Research and Resources, beyondblue and delivering the closing keynote. Allan’s belief is there is an ongoing and increasing need for a concentrated and collaborative approach to PTSD, mental illness and suicide prevention in all of our Police Forces, Emergency Services and Australian Defence Forces. His submissions are that broader education and knowledge are vital to promote and maintain the health, wellbeing and careers of these people who are critical to our society.

What is the future of Suicide Prevention in Australia

The $64,000 question. Looking forward to taking part in a panel discussion next week at the Life Think Tank Workshop with Rebecca Lewis – Campaign Director, RUOK? and Matthew Tukaki – Chair of the National Coalition for Suicide Prevention and SPA Director discussing ‘The future of suicide prevention in Australia. With over 2,500 Australian lives lost to suicide every year, the questions need asking. I am sure there are thousands of Australians who are looking for answers, for their past, present and future. Life Think Tank Workshop – Sydney



Australia Day Ambassador 2016

In another first, Cross of Valour recipients, Tim Britten CV and Allan Sparkes CV,VA were invited to participate in the Australia Day Ambassador Program for 2016. Allan and Tim are also Soldier On Ambassadors and Allan is a beyondblue Ambassador.  Allan and his wife Deb were invited to attend the Australia Day address by Mr Deng Thiak Adut and also to attend the Hurstville Council Australia Day Awards Ceremony where Allan delivered the key note address. On Australia Day, Allan and his wife Deb were also invited to attend the official Australia Day reception at the Sydney Opera House.

A big thank you to all those of you who helped raise some serious funds

Very proud of our efforts to raise funds totally nearly $150,000.00 for NSW Police Legacy and the PCYC in the NSW Police Legacy Boxing Tournament. Thank you very much to all of my connections and colleagues, friends and family who contributed to these great causes.  It was a great honour to be presented with a trophy and be recognised as the second highest fundraiser for the event.


Teamwork with Mark Donaldson VC

In September 2015, Allan traveled to Perth, Western Australia to deliver the closing keynote at the WA Fire and Emergency Services Conference.  During the conference, Allan and Mark Donaldson VC delivered a joint presentation to the conference delegates on Leadership and Teamwork. The majority of the delegates of the conference were volunteers who give so much of their time and expertise to help their communities.  Exceptional Australians.

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Erica Blake from the Department of Fire and Emergency Services forwarded the following testimonial.
“Allan Sparkes was a keynote speaker at the WA Fire and Emergency Services Conference held in Perth in September 2015. Over 700 fire and emergency services personnel and volunteers attended the conference. Allan’s story was captivating and inspiring. He had everyone’s attention from the first word to the last, and he received a standing ovation at the end of the session.   
Allan hit the right chord with many of our volunteers who have similar experiences in their volunteer work.  He was happy to engage with volunteers before and after his presentation, and the feedback we have received has been extremely positive.  Allan is an outstanding presenter and we would highly recommend him to anyone who is looking for a genuine, positive and inspirational speaker.”

Delivering the Leadership and Teamwork session with Mark Donaldson VC
Delivering the Leadership and Teamwork session with Mark Donaldson VC

Surviving and Thriving – My panel discussion with Ruby Wax, Dr Tim Sharpe and others

Following Allan’s ‘TED’ style presentation at the Happiness and its Causes Conference, a panel discussion was arranged with British comedian Ruby Wax, leading psychologist Dr Tim Sharpe, Best selling author Dr Russ Harris and moderated by ABC Radio National presenter, Mr Richard Aedy. The discussion centred around recovering from adversity with each of the panellists giving their reflections on what they consider to be the most important aspects of their involvement with adversity, their recovery and resilience.

And now for something completely different

How far would you go out of your comfort zone to support something you feel passionate about? Dip into your wallet and maybe donate a fifty instead of a twenty? Walk 10 kilometres instead of 5? Donate a significant prize? What about stepping into a boxing ring? Not comfortable with that idea? No, nor was I when I was first approached. But on Thursday night, at North Sydney Leagues Club, that is exactly what I am doing. Why on earth would you do that I hear you ask. Fair question. Well the short answer is to raise money for New South Wales Police Legacy’s largest annual fundraiser in remembrance of all NSW Police Force Officers who have died or been killed on duty. The challenge is to raise funds to continue providing essential financial assistance and social programs and experiences to the widows, widowers and dependent children of those police officers.  Good mates of mine have been killed in the line of duty and I am fighting in their memory. Good mates of mine have also taken their own lives as a result of the psychological destruction their work has caused. I am also fighting in their memory.  But I am also wearing my beyondblue ambassadors colours to show that I am prepared to walk the walk and not just talk the talk when it comes to my promotion of good physical health is critical to good mental health, not just for serving police officers but for everyone who is in a job where they are subjected to unending stress and pressure and I think just about anyone who has their own business or is employed is facing thos