Since capturing Australia’s attention as one of the most successful football players in AFL history, Wayne Schwass has gone on to make a name for himself in more ways than one.
As well as running Puka Up, Wayne also delivers his powerful and honest keynote speeches at countless mental health seminars and workshops, where his message never fails to resonate with audiences.
“Wayne is a is a highly intelligent visionary; whose dedication to his work in the mental health space is absolutely inspiring. The team at The Banksia Project were lucky enough to have Wayne participate in our 'mental health in sports' forum in May 2017; where Wayne’s insight and delivery were instrumental to the success of the event.” - Josh Flanagan, Vice-Chair, The Banksia Project
In 2019 Wayne will continue as part of the Triple M AFL commentary Team and as host of ‘Off the Bench TV”.
Background: Born in New Zealand and raised in Warrnambool, Western Victoria, Wayne Schwass began playing Aussie Rules football at the age of ten. But with his undeniable talent and passion, it was not long before he was recruited to join the AFL- so in 1986, Wayne began playing for the North Melbourne Football Club.
AFL: From here, Wayne went from strength to strength, quickly becoming one of the most highly-rated players in AFL history. Wayne played 282 games at the elite level for fourteen and a half years, both with the North Melbourne Football Club (1988- 1997) and the Sydney Swans (1998-2002).
Broadcaster: Since retiring in 2002, Wayne has established himself as a highly respected AFL broadcaster on TV, radio, print and online. However, in addition to his work within the sporting world, Wayne has also become a passionate advocate for mental health awareness.
Founder: In 2006, Wayne founded the ‘Sunrise Foundation’, an organisation he created after becoming one of the first AFL players to speak openly about his experience with depression.
Charity: Though no longer operating, the ‘Sunrise Foundation’ focused on delivering preventative education programs to secondary school students between the years 2007 and 2010. More than 5000 students participated in the foundation’s ‘Headsmart’ program.
Sales: Following this, Wayne successfully transitioned into a corporate sales role with Telstra Business Centre Melbourne West, a position he held until April 2017.
Puka Up: However, Wayne’s passion for health and wellbeing ultimately drew him back to mental health advocacy-and it was this same passion that led him to create ‘Puka Up’.
Launched in 2017, Puka Up is a social enterprise focusing on mental health, emotional wellbeing and, importantly, suicide prevention. According to Wayne, the PukaUp vision is to ‘create the environments for every person to have authentic and genuine conversations about mental health and emotional wellbeing'.
- AFL & AFLW