If you'd like to get in touch with one of the Patrons or Ambassadors below or talk to us about becoming an SPA Ambassador, please email a member of the team or give us a call on 02 9262 1130.
His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd)
Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia
Peter Cosgrove was born in Sydney in 1947. The son of a soldier, he attended Waverley College in Sydney and graduated in 1968 from the Royal Military College, Duntroon. Early in his military career, he fought in Vietnam, commanding a rifle platoon. He was awarded the Military Cross in 1971 for his performance and leadership during an assault on enemy positions.
In 1972, he served as Aide de Camp to Governor-General Sir Paul Hasluck. He returned to regimental life as second in command of a Company, rising to Adjutant then Company Commander in the Army’s 5th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment (5 RAR), then 5/7 RAR in Holsworthy, Sydney. Subsequent appointments included a period as a tactics instructor at the Army’s Infantry Centre in Singleton, New South Wales; a year’s study at the United States Marine Corps Staff College in Quantico, USA; extended periods of duty in the United Kingdom and India; and command of 1 RAR. He was appointed a Member in the Military Division of the Order of Australia (AM) for his service in command in 1983-84.
Peter Cosgrove came to national attention in 1999 when, as Commander of the International Task Force East Timor (INTERFET), he was responsible for overseeing that country’s transition to independence. For his leadership in this role he was promoted to Companion in the Military Division of the Order of Australia (AC).
Promoted to Lieutenant General, he was appointed Chief of Army in 2000. After further promotion to General, he served as Chief of the Defence Force from 2002-2005. He retired from the Australian Defence Force in 2005.
Subsequently, he accepted positions on several boards, including QANTAS, Cardno and the Australian Rugby Union. He was appointed by the Queensland Government to lead the taskforce rebuilding communities in the Innisfail region following the devastation caused by Cyclone Larry in 2006. From 2007 to 2012, he chaired the Council of the Australian War Memorial, and served as Chancellor of the Australian Catholic University from 2010 until early 2014.
On 25 March 2014, Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced that General Cosgrove would become a Knight in the Order of Australia when sworn in as Governor-General.
General Sir Peter Cosgrove gave the Boyer Lectures series, “A Very Australian Conversation” in 2009. His autobiography “My Story” was published in 2006. He was named Australian of the Year in 2001.
An avid sports follower, General Sir Peter Cosgrove takes particular interest in rugby and cricket. He and his wife Lady Cosgrove have three adult sons and one grandson.
Ambassador Professor Tom Calma AO, Indigenous Leader
Professor Tom Calma, AO, an elder from the Kungarakan and Iwaidja tribal groups from the south-west Darwin region and the Coburg Peninsula in Northern Territory, was the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission from 2004 to 2010, as well as serving as Race Discrimination Commissioner between 2004 and 2009. Professor Calma has been actively involved in the formation of the Close The Gap for Indigenous Health Equality Campaign and the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples. He delivered the 2009 Mabo Oration; has continued to advocate for members of the Stolen Generations; and delivered the formal response in Parliament House on their behalf to the Prime Minister’s National Apology.
He is currently Chair of the Commonwealth Government’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Advisory Group and member of their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health Advisory Group, an Ambassador with Suicide Prevention Australia, Deputy Chancellor, University of Canberra, an Adjunct Associate Professor at the National Centre for Indigenous Studies at ANU, the inaugural National Coordinator for Tackling Indigenous Smoking (Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing), Co-Chair of Reconciliation Australia, member of the Australian Social Inclusion Board, National Patron of the Poche Centres for Indigenous Health Network, Chair of the Cooperative Research Centre for Remote Economic Participation and is a chair or member of numerous other national boards, committees and campaigns.
In 2010 and 2011, Professor Calma received honorary doctorates from Charles Darwin and Curtin Universities. He was awarded the Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in June 2012 for distinguished service to the Indigenous community as an advocate for human rights and social justice, through contributions to government policy and reform, and to cross cultural understanding and is the ACT Australian of the Year 2013.
Ambassador Brendan Cowell, Actor Writer Director
Brendan Cowell is an Australian actor, writer and director. His first novel, How it Feels, is a semi-autobiographical account of the darker side of Australian suburban life, and the accompanying issues of drug abuse, suicide and male violence. 2015 saw Brendan’s directorial debut with the release of movie Ruben Guthrie, adapted from his critically acclaimed Belvoir St Theatre production – “the story of one man not only battling the bottle, but the city that won’t let him put it down.” Brendan is a strong ambassador for suicide prevention with a personal passion for preventing youth suicide and male suicide.
Ambassador Tommy Little, Comedian
Tommy Little has been a regular at SPA’s No Laughing Matter Comedy Gala, having appeared at the festival every year since his 2009 Melbourne Comedy Festival debut. Tommy generously donates his time and talent to support SPA by emceeing events and participating in fundraising activities such as the 2012 Zip It for Mental Health campaign.
Tommy is the most exciting young comedian of his generation. His comedy bubbles with an irresistible energy – bursting to tell you the next story. He’s smart, engaging and capable of holding a room in the palm of his hand. Tommy is currently a co-host of the Nova 100 breakfast slot and often appears on popular TV program, The Project.
Community Ambassador Greg van Borssum, GVB Mind Warrior
Greg Van Borssum, a failed school kid who turned adversities into opportunities, from Martial Arts to Movies. Greg has accomplished an incredible level of achievement...the worlds youngest professional Natural Bodybuilder, a multiple black belt martial artist, World Champion Pistol Shooter and an Academy Award winning film maker. His life sounds like a success story, but the successes aren't what made him. It was struggling through the loss of many friends and his Aunty to Suicide and then with his own suffering of severe depression which nearly took his life in 2014 that Greg vowed to forge a pathway for those in trouble using the values embodied in the Warriors Code.
Battling through failure and loss, it was Greg's resilience as a warrior that gave him the strength to turn his setbacks into comebacks that have made him the mentor and speaker he is today. A proud Ambassador for us & Lifeline Greg speaks internationally on suicide prevention and is currently mapping out an in school programme to help educate the kids and to give those students who may be struggling, hope for their future.
Community Ambassador Ben Higgs, The RISE Foundation
Ben Higgs is a husband, Dad to two young boys and suicide prevention advocate. He is a rocker at heart who is passionate about building the resilience of his community in Maroubra and Eastern Sydney, as well as further afield. Ben has have battled and learned to live with depression since his early teens. Over the years he has lost several friends to suicide and has also seen his friends lose friends and family members. He says himself that he has been touched by suicide far too many times and that enough is enough.
Ben was introduced to SPA by Matt Dee of FTW Revolution. Together with several of their friends, they started national community fundraising and awareness event PPP4SPA (Plebs, Pros and Personalities for Suicide Prevention Australia). Since its start just a few years ago, PPP4SPA has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for community projects and involved hundreds of celebrities and community members across the country. As Ben said at the close of the 2015 event: “Money raised is nice to have but these events are all about communities coming together, raising awareness and talking about suicide. If one person leaves this event today and calls a mate to see how they’re doing, or calls one of the crisis services when they’re struggling, then we’ve done our job. That’s the real success.”
Community Ambassador Joe Williams, The Enemy Within
Joe Williams is a proud Wiradjuri Aboriginal man born in Cowra, raised in Wagga NSW. Joe played in the NRL for South Sydney Rabbitohs, Penrith Panthers and Canterbury Bulldogs before switching to professional Boxing in 2009. Joe is a 2x WBF World Jnr Welterweight champion and recently won the WBC Asia Continental Title. Joe is currently working as the Aboriginal Education Worker at Mater Dei Catholic College. In 2016, Joe was recognised as Wagga Wagga Australia Day Citizen of the Year.
Apart from being involved with professional sport for over 15 years, Joe now spends his time working to inspire youth and individuals through motivational speaking workshops. Joe has spent time working with disengaged youth in high schools and primary schools, drug & alcohol rehabilitation centres, gaols and has mentored both youth and adults. Privately, Joe has had his own battles, struggles and setbacks, which culminated in his own suicide attempt in 2011.
The Enemy Within Project shows a raw and honest side of Joe Williams, the boxer, former NRL Player, father & fiancé. Joe delves into the private pain, and dealings with depression that drove him to the very brink. Joe talks adversity, dealing with struggle, resilience, improving your attitude by 1%, positive energy & how small steps, lead to something greater. Joe lists becoming a father to 4 beautiful children, his greatest accomplishment.
Joe draws on personal experiences, and uses his raw approach to engage with his audience through voice, motivation & music. The Enemy Within workshop can be catered to suit your audience. Joe’s excellent communication skills and extensive knowledge and experience working with schools enables his workshops to cover a range of curriculum based PD/H/PE topics and allow him to connect and communicate to an audience of all ages, ranging from school age through to community and corporate level.
Community Ambassador Lauren Breen, Lauren Breen Foundation
Lauren Breen is a local Perth girl, who has been working & volunteering in the mental health and suicide prevention sectors for over 6 years. After the death of her brother, Aidon to suicide in 2008, Lauren created The Aidon Project. It was a passion project that has developed and grown into the Lauren Breen Foundation, a broad community based movement, aiming to raise the awareness and harness the voices of people with a lived experience of suicide. Within the paid mental health sector, Lauren is privileged to be the Team Leader for the Personal Helpers and Mentors & Partners in Recovery programs in her local community.
Author of the book, “TRUST – Surviving the Ripple Effect of Suicide”, Lauren uses her lived experience, coupled with her desire and determination to impact change, to get involved in many amazing projects and organisations including, Lifeline WA, Reach Out, Anglicare WA, LIVIN, A Stitch in Time and The Enemy Within and is a Lived Experience Advisor to Suicide Prevention Australia.
Lauren is across all things suicide prevention and mental health and is continuing to spread the message of hope & resilience to all the people she meets. If you ever wish to talk sports, Lauren is also the person to call. When not working, you will find Lauren on her couch, watching sports and tweeting about it.