• Former NRL player Joe Williams. (NITV)Source: NITV
Former NRL star Joe Williams has spoken out about the “heartbreaking” conditions he sees while mentoring young people in Indigenous communities, where kids as young as 11 are contemplating suicide.
Ella Archibald-Binge

The Point
1 Mar 2016 - 10:42 PM  UPDATED 2 Mar 2016 - 10:03 AM

The sportsman-turned-mental health advocate told NITV’s The Point that he’s determined to help Indigenous young people, who are often dealing with intergenerational trauma.

“We’re talking 11, 12, 13-year-old kids,” Williams said.

“It’s heartbreaking really.

“It’s through no fault of their own ... I think it’s a lack of hope.”

The Wiradjuri man speaks from experience, having attempted suicide himself in 2011.

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Williams said he draws on his own battles, along with his experience as a professional footballer and boxer, to connect with youth in his home town of Wagga and other Indigenous communities.

“I can show them that there’s a good way out,” he said.

“I try to get out there and teach and promote things that I didn’t do, rather than the things I did do.”

'We’ve got to encourage kids to get out there and be active again and look at living those healthy lifestyles.'

Though he acknowledged there’s no quick-and-easy solution, Williams said an active lifestyle could be one way to improve mental health.

“A lot of kids find themselves today on computer games and worrying about different social media outlets,” he said.

“When I was a kid the hardest thing was finding a footy that was pumped up.

“We’ve got to encourage kids to get out there and be active again and look at living those healthy lifestyles.”

Watch The Point

Our story on a unique rehabilitation program and full interview with Joe Williams: