Rhiannon Hayes, mum, and GEGAC’S new Healthy Lifestyles Aboriginal Health Worker.


Hers is a life story that many of us can relate to.

Fit and sporty as a young person, but health not so much of a priority in her late teens and early 20s.

And then becoming an adult and a parent throws a whole heap of other challenges her way and all of a sudden she’s not as fit and healthy as she wants to be.

Rhiannon Hayes is not the sort of person to shy away from the life she has lived in the past, nor the ambitions she has for the life she wants to live in the future.

Her own struggles with her health and wellbeing, and her commitment to overcoming those struggles, are a strong and compelling story for others in community to be guided by.

Which is why we reckon it is deadly that Rhiannon has joined our Healthy Lifestyles team as our new Healthy Lifestyles Aboriginal Health Worker.

“I want people to feel comfortable talking about where they are at, with their health, and what they think they need to do to make some positive changes.”

“There’s no shame. None of us are perfect,” Rhiannon says. “We’re not here to judge anyone. It’s just about looking ahead and saying ‘okay, I know I want to feel better in myself, what can I do to make that happen?’”

Rhiannon says that like many young people drugs and alcohol were a part of her life that, in hindsight, she can see had a big impact on her physical and mental health, and which contributed to her own battles with depression and anxiety.

“For me, exercise became a way for me to deal with that depression and anxiety,” she said. “Just going for a walk, getting outside, getting some fresh air and sunlight, getting moving.”

Managing gestational diabetes as a young Mum was another health complexity.

For many young women, childbirth and raising children takes a toll on physical and mental health that is sometimes hard to recover from.

For Rhiannon, her goal is clear.

“I want to run again,” she says. “I used to love running as a kid. Loved playing basketball, running up and down the court. My goal is to regain my fitness enough to be able to go for a run again. I’m going to the gym more now. I feel the best I’ve felt in ages.”

“I’m an ambitious person,” she says. “There are lots of things I want to do in my career and in my life. But I know that I’m only going to be able to do those things if I am healthy – physically and mentally strong. It all goes together.”

Rhiannon says that by yarning with community she can learn what people’s own personal goals are, what they want to bring into their lives.

“I’m excited to talk to people, to have a yarn with them about their story. I want people to be inspired, and to see that being healthy doesn’t have to be difficult.”

“It should be natural, doing the things you want to do – walking, swimming, even doing some work in your garden,” she says. “All it takes is 150 minutes of physical activity a week. That’s not too much.”

Rhiannon and her Healthy Lifestyles colleague at GEGAC, Tamasin Rankin, recently met with a group of Elders to get their ideas on what kind of exercise activities they’d like to do.

“They told us they wanted to do swimming,” Rhiannon said. “I think that was a surprise to us, but that’s great. So we’re going to take them to the pool.”

Rhiannon encourages anyone who is ready to make some positive changes to their health to give her a shout.

You can reach Rhiannon at rhiannon.hayes@gegac.org.au, call 5150 0700 and ask for her, or drop by GEGAC Monday to Friday 9 – 4.


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