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Giving a voice to the elephant in the room

10 Dec 2018

How many people dressed as elephants does it take to break a world record? 

Liz O’Leary, Blake Almond and Simon Collins from Macquarie’s Sydney office recently set out to answer this question while giving a voice to the elephant in the room – mental health. 

The world record attempt, organised by Macquarie staff, batyr and the NSW Positive Rugby Foundation, smashed the previous record of 385 by having 504 people dressed in elephants onesies, while raising over $A500,000 (including matching from the Macquarie Group Foundation) to support the Get Talkin’ Tour. 

“The world record attempt was an incredible collaboration between batyr, NSW Positive Rugby Foundation, and Macquarie Group to support the Get Talkin’ Tour,” says Jono Peatfield, Head of Partnerships at batyr. 

“We were thrilled by the media coverage the event received, which goes a long way in raising awareness of our organisation and reaching young people who might need some support.”

 The first Get Talkin’ Tour recently wrapped up after traveling to 12 rural towns around New South Wales, conducting 17 positive rugby sessions, 18 batyr@school programs and five community forums including mental health ambassador training. 

“These sessions aim to start a conversation around mental health and give people the tools and resources they need to take charge of their mental health,” says Blake Almond who recently visited a Get Talkin’ Tour event in Narrabri, New South Wales. 

“It was incredibly fulfilling to see how engaged the local people were and open to talking about mental health. The role that the NSW rugby representatives played in leading these discussions was remarkable,” says Blake. 

“The feedback to date has been incredibly positive. We look forward to sharing more feedback with everyone who has supported Get Talkin’ Tour very soon.” 

True to Macquarie’s grassroots approach to philanthropy, this initiative has been led by staff and championed by Liz O’Leary, Head of Agriculture in Macquarie’s Asset Management group and Macquarie Group Foundation Committee member. 

“I was really touched by the number of Macquarie staff who contacted me wanting to know how they could get involved and help our farming communities in drought,” says Liz. “In response, we launched an Australia-wide staff fundraising campaign which we called Dollars for drought.” 

“There were lots of great ideas and a real passion across Macquarie to show our support. The elephant onesie world record attempt seemed like a fun way to raise much-needed funds while also raising awareness of mental health.” 

Staff across Macquarie’s Australian offices are rallying together in support of the Dollars for drought campaign which, in addition to batyr, is also supporting the Country Women’s Association and Rural Aid and will continue in 2019. 

“I have been blown away by the level of interest, support, and eagerness to help of colleagues right across Macquarie,” says Simon Collins. 

“I have always thought the Foundation, and the passion of our staff for helping their communities around the world was one of the things that sets Macquarie apart. It's a part of our DNA of which we should all be proud.” 

Image caption: From left to right, Sebastian Robertson (batyr), Simon Collins (Macquarie), David Lyons (KPMG), Liz O’Leary (Macquarie), Pat McCutcheon (Rugby NSW), Jono Peatfield (batyr), Blake Almond (Macquarie) and James Godfrey (Rugby NSW). 

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