"In the Northern Tablelands our 2014 Woman of the Year is a truly remarkable person who exhibits the highest qualities through her contribution to her community. Sarah McFarlane-Eagle is a mental health advocate who lets her feet do the talking. Clocking up more than 7,000 kilometres in treks since 2001, Sarah raises awareness of mental illness through her Walking Feat initiative. Her motivation is the memory of her brother, Ben, who went missing during a psychotic episode, disappeared into bushland and has never been found. As an ambassador for SANE Australia, a university student and a mental healthcare worker, her dedication in working to remove the stigma of mental illness and raise awareness of this often hidden disease is inspiring. Like many women in rural areas, Sarah saw a problem and came up with a unique concept to find a solution. It is that pragmatic approach to overcoming obstacles that often sets rural women apart from their big city counterparts. Maybe it is a legacy from pioneering days, but rural women are a force to be reckoned with".
Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall speaking at the Legislative
Assembly in Parliament March 2014.
Sarah has been a public speaker for over twelve years, raising awareness of the impact of mental illness on Australians. Her evidence-based talks provide a uniquely uplifting and inspiring twist on well-being and mental health issues within Australia. Sarah frequently speaks in schools: workplaces, community groups, large organisations, universities, government agencies and NGOs. Her efforts of raising awareness of mental illness across Australia have given Sarah substantial experience on television, radio and in print media.
Sarah's understanding of mental well-being and mental illness is broad and extensive. She draws upon her own experiences of living with a brother with a mental illness, her time working within the mental health system, her own research and knowledge gained through her current undertaking, a PhD, and her journey of long walks in memory of her brother.
Sarah offers the following services which can be easily tailored to a variety of needs:
Sarah McFarlane-Eagle is an ambassador for SANE Australia. In 2001, Sarah's brother Ben went missing in the Australian bush, during his final psychotic episode. His body was never found, although a death certificate was issued. Since then Sarah has been actively and passionately raising awareness of the complex and emotive issues surrounding mental illness. Sarah's brother Ben, was one of the millions of Australians who have or will suffer from mental illness at some stage in their lives.
Walking Feat is the name Sarah has chosen for her projects of awareness-raising. The name symbolises the Australian community walking together towards mental health. Her projects involve asking the community for support by joining her to raise awareness of the impact of mental illness. In conjunction with her efforts to inform, empower and improve the quality of life for all people impacted on by mental illness, Sarah uses long distance walks as a tool to help realise the vision of Australians walking forward together.
SANE Australia is one of the leading charities supporting and assisting people effected by mental illness. Sarah heard about SANE Australia three months after Ben died, when it was too late. Her passion for promoting SANE Australia stems from her belief that it is an essential service. "SANE Australia is helping people on a daily basis, they need financial support so that they can continue their work, and keep helping people affected by mental illness. SANE Australia helps to change lives".