Luke Thomson – Young Citizen of the Year

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Luke Thomson – Young Citizen of the Year

City of Mount Gambier Citizen of the Year

Active Citizenship Award

City of Mount Gambier Senior Citizen of the Year

Community Event of the Year

Mount Gambier man Luke Thomson had been silently struggling with his mental health for a couple years before he decided to speak to a doctor about it in 2022.

The former Nangwarry football coach was subsequently diagnosed with anxiety and depression and plucked up the courage to talk to some friends about it as a guest on ‘The Richo & Toddy Poddy’ podcast which usually focused on sport.

“I guess people were noticing when I was a bit down and my behaviour was all over the place, and they wanted to know why. To be upfront and honest I told a couple of mates about my diagnosis on the podcast, and they were taken aback, and everything really took off from there,” Luke said.

“That little chat between us led to some pretty good opportunities to help raise awareness about mental health and help break the stigma.”

The young father of two started the ‘Let’s Talk’ podcast in 2023 and quickly created a safe space for local people to discuss mental health issues.

“In sharing my story, I have found that more people have opened up. People have come to me and spoken about their own experiences, I have had people that you would not expect get in touch and it’s really opened up the conversation,” he said.

Luke was part of a local committee that raised more than $50,000 for headspace Mount Gambier through the twilight charity football match ‘switch the headspace’ held at East Gambier Football Club in February 2023 for mental health awareness.

“I think Mount Gambier as a whole is a good community, people really come together especially when it is for the mental health side of things,” he said.

He was also a Swinging with the Stars participant in 2023, raising about $10,000 in funds for the Stand Like Stone Foundation.

In his working life, Luke works at a hotel and supports and mentors youth in his role as a School Services Officer (SSO) at Mount Gambier High School.

“You’re shaping these kids and you get the opportunity to guide them and help them on their way and to move out into the community to find casual jobs, to find an apprenticeship or whatever future they want to explore,” he said.

He is currently studying a certificate four in youth work and hopes to continue to assist young people in the years ahead.

“I think Mount Gambier needs a youth centre, we always hear the kids that are 12 to 18 say that do not really have that much to do here,” Luke said.

“We want a centre that brings them all together, whether they are into sports or gaming or whatever it is. Long term I would not mind being part of a centre that opens up something like that.”

The 29-year-old was surprised when told that he had been awarded the Young Citizen of the Year award.

“I was in a bit of shock, obviously you do not set out to get these things, but I’m very happy and excited about it,” he said.

“This all would not be possible with the support of my partner Chanelle, and my boys Louie and Zeb.”

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