Words by Tom Connor
The world’s leading forum for social impact, Good Pitch Australia, returned to the Sydney Opera House in 2015 following its highly successful debut the previous year.
Travelling to major cities around the world, Good Pitch brings together filmmakers with experts and leading individuals in a range of fields, to forge significant alliances around ground-breaking films that have the power to influence societal change.
The undoubted potential of Good Pitch was clear following the 2014 edition, with three of the presented films – ‘That Sugar Film’, ‘Gayby Baby’ and ‘Frackman’ – garnering large audiences and influencing policy and social change.
During the course of the day, filmmaking teams pitch their film and its associated outreach campaign to the invited representatives at the table, and a theatre of up to 300 participants.
Amongst the strategically selected representatives invited to sit on the panel for 2015 was RUPA, who received an invitation following its substantial and ongoing work addressing mental health issues in professional sport.
Representing RUPA and all of its members was Waratahs and Wallabies Prop Paddy Ryan, who took his place centre stage in discussing the film proposal ‘Happy Sad Man’.
Set in Australia, Happy Sad Man explores the complexity of mental wellbeing through the eyes of men today.
With Australian men four times more likely to die from suicide than women, the film is a portrait of mental health which removes the negative connotations associated with depression, mania and anxiety.
A long-time advocate for breaking down the stigmas associated with depression and mental health, Paddy has been instrumental in raising awareness for this unspoken illness in recent years.
Alongside his Sydney University teammate and long-time friend Pat McCutcheon, he is an ambassador for Batyr, a foundation working with young people and encouraging them to talk about mental health issues.
Having seen the effects of depression on those closest to him, Paddy was well equipped to give his personal insights and experiences about this ongoing issue at Good Pitch.
Speaking candidly about the pressures of being a professional athlete and the high stress work environment that comes with it, Paddy highlighted the importance of recognising the early warning signs of depression, as well as other addiction issues which have become particularly prevalent in sport.
Praising the ongoing support and initiative undertaken by RUPA and the Player Development Managers (PDP’s) in tackling mental health, he also emphasized the ongoing partnership RUPA has with South Pacific Private and the development of specialist programs aimed at assisting and treating both past and present athletes.
With the film following the stories of Australian men born from all walks of life, it is a timely reminder that depression and mental illness can affect anyone. Most significantly, the film seeks to provide insight into how these men manage and improve their own wellbeing.
RUPA continues to play a leading role amongst the professional sporting bodies in Australia, and is committed to recognising the ever increasing challenges to player welfare that mental health poses.
Later this year, representatives of some of the major sporting bodies from across the country will be attending RUPA’S seminar on Mental Health and Addiction, including the Australian Cricketers’ Association, the Rugby League Players Association and the Australian Football League Players Association, just to name a few.
After the inaugural Good Pitch Sydney event raised a whopping $2million, the second edition built upon its foundations and took it to the next level, with more than $4.2 million in philanthropic funding committed to the production of six outstanding Australian documentaries.