Last week, RUPA's Player Development Manager (PDM) at the Brumbies, Robin Duff, traveled to Sydney to provide a mental health workshop for Rugby Australia staff.
Robin is an accredited mental health first aid (MHFA) trainer, and she works with current players at the annual RUPA Induction Camp and also with past players through the RUPA Players' Alumni program alongside her day to day responsibilities working as a PDM at the Brumbies.
Laura Giblett, National Program Manager, Gender Equality + Safeguarding at Rugby Australia, said that it was really beneficial for the staff to learn from Robin.
"Rugby Australia have been wanting to run a course for a while now, and we reached out to Robin through RUPA to learn more about the MHFA Accreditation Courses," Laura explained.
"After speaking with Robin we agreed the more people to attend the better, so we worked on a three-hour presentation that could be Rugby-specific and aimed at the community level. We have noticed in the Rugby community there was an increased awareness around participant welfare, so we wanted to be proactive and put some key people through the training. We had ten people from Rugby Australia in attendance, predominantly from within community Rugby.
"The presentation was very well received! People have already started sharing articles and ideas – as a lot of us are out in the community, we see it as really important to be able to identify changes in behaviour, especially burnout.
"I think next steps for us is to put our Executive and Senior Management through a similar training but more focused on their staff. I would also like to see all high performance staff go through the training. We are so grateful for Robin's time; it was a fantastic session."
RUPA would like to extend our congratulations to Robin for working so closely to up-skill such important people within the Australia Rugby on such a vital topic, and thank Rugby Australia for collaborating with us on something we truly value.
The RUPA Player Development Program is implemented directly within each professional program by a full-time Player Development Manager (PDM), employed by RUPA but embedded within each team setup. The PDMs have a wide range of responsibilities, including mental health awareness and helping players managing the pressures of life as a professional athlete.