Regional pubs centre for connection and wellbeing

November 1, 2021
By Ioni Doherty

Lion has partnered Gus Worland’s mental fitness charity Gotcha4Life and will fund the regional rollout of its flagship Tomorrow Man, Tomorrow Woman program around Australia.

The program provides the training and tools to help people to initiate meaningful conversations with someone in their life who might need support. It will be rolled out to participating Lion venues and their teams, as well as their communities.

Lion’s Head of Sustainability, Libby Davidson said the importance of the local pub or club as a ‘third space’ is backed up by research.

“Social connection is at the heart of our business and culture at Lion. The experience of the past 18 months has helped all of us realise that we can’t underestimate the benefits of getting together with people in our communities, to have a chat and connect.

“We were really impressed by the work that Gus and the team do to build mental fitness and now we are really pleased to be able to help bring these programs to more Australians in regional areas.”

In 2018 Lion commissioned and published a major study that looked at the psychological and social benefits of having a ‘local’. It showed that people who have a local bar, pub, hotel or club are more likely to be satisfied with their life, have broader friendship and support networks. People’s level of happiness is directly linked to being social and interacting with others and the ‘local’ is a very important way for many people to meet and socialise[1].

Gus Worland is the founder of Gotcha4Life, as well as a popular radio and television personality. He started Gotcha4Life as a men’s mental health foundation after his involvement in the documentary ‘Man Up’ and has since grown the foundation to build awareness and mental fitness in both men and women.

In launching the partnership, Worland said: “People in rural and regional areas – especially people who live on properties – are isolated at the best of times so the pandemic has really put the pressure on.”

“Life on the land is tough and we know that the suicide rate in the bush is higher, per capita, than in the cities. That’s why it’s so important to re-connect people with their local communities and the pub is the perfect place to do this as it’s a natural meeting place.

“Gotcha4Life is all about getting right down to the grassroots to start conversations around what it means to be mentally fit, and how to have vulnerable conversations.

“There is no better place to do this than the pub, and we are beyond grateful to Lion for seeing the lifesaving potential in supporting these events.”

The Armatree Hotel, which is situated about an hour from Dubbo past Gilgandra in the state’s central west, was voted Best Bush Pub in 2018 and 2019 by the NSW AHA, and is renowned for its traditional country hospitality. It brings live music and comedy acts to its beer garden, and hosts weddings, birthdays, market days and everything in between. Most recently it became the first COVID-19 vaccination hub at a pub in the country.

Owner of the Armatree Hotel Ash Walker said he was absolutely thrilled to be welcoming Gus Worland to the pub in December to run the very first of its Lion-sponsored sessions.

“We have seen it all out here – from drought to bushfires – and of course most recently the pandemic, which in some ways has been our biggest challenge of all,” he said.

“Isolation is something we are reasonably accustomed to out here. Most of our locals live on properties within about a 50 kilometre radius of the pub. But in the midst of every other disaster and we’ve faced as a community over recent years, they have always been able to count on us being open for a beer, a meal, and always a friendly face and a chat.

“Obviously the pandemic has changed that, and as we open up again for the summer, we are all looking forward to re-connecting and getting back to our regular program of community events.

“We are so grateful for Lion’s support in recognising the important role we play in building mental resilience in the community, and I know we will all benefit from the lessons Gus and his team have to share.”

Ms Davidson said, “Helping people kick-start positive conversations around mental health and the ability to spot and support a friend, colleague or family member who needs to talk about their challenges is an incredibly powerful skill.

“Of course, we know that pubs often are that place where people can connect and have meaningful conversations, especially in rural and regional areas, and we are thrilled to be working with our customers to support them and their communities in this way.”


[1] IARD – Insights: The value of hospitality venues to social and mental wellbeing

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