A Path to Follow


Apparently who I am and what I do is complicated – Let me sort that for you…

What, why and how I do “A Path To Follow” is complicated apparently (ah, yes it is).  This is largely due to our commitment to the customisation of wellbeing services to meet the needs of our peers. But I do get it, I need community to understand what we do, if we are to truly provide positive impact for those who need it most. This means I need to know how to simplify our key messages. Here is my attempt at a describing what really is a niche, pivotal and unique service in a simple way that also still captures the true essence of our service for those who really need it right now. Here goes… Please let me know your feedback. I am Kirstie; Founder of A Path To Follow (APTF), (Volunteer) Secretary of South Eastern Suicide Prevention Network, Mental Health Service User and Carer, Professional, Mum, Wife and Human Being (the order of which does not reflect my priorities nor preferences). I have over 25 years of professional experience in wellbeing related sectors, inclusive of practice within education, family, community and mental health systems.   I also have well over 25 years of combined mental health lived experience as a mental health service user and/or as a carer to a young person experiencing mental health related challenges.   It is that lived experience that grounds my professional practice, enabling authentic engagement and personalised support of young people and families in their wellbeing journeys.    It is those combined Lived and Professional experiences that saw APTF arrive as an alternative method of care in our “broken” mental health service system; out of the the raw, personal, chaotic, traumatic and grief laden journey within the system arose something so important, so ingrained in my being that I knew professionally young people and families need. Three years old as an official business, (9 years into a venture that began with a small but important volunteer community awareness and fundraising focus) my commitment to young people and family wellbeing has not changed; in fact, it has grown and consolidated my commitment and passion. I will continue to practice within my values and vision according to the missions set to proudly provide this unique model of service, growing our professional and lived experience workforce as we go. Our mental health peer youth, family and sporting programs for are a product of my combined mental health experiences and current best practice evidence, with each embedded in principles of prevention, early intervention and personalised response.  Both Australian and International research backs the role of lived experience working collaboratively alongside professional care to help communities bring about their own best outcomes in wellbeing. Just look at our RCMH recommendations for evidence in support of lived experience and peer support in our trying to save our mental health system. Very rarely is my life simple or my mind uncomplicated. I hope I have untangled the tangles and simplified the complexities enough for those of you needing a light at the end of your tunnel today. Kirstie Descriptions of Youth, Family and Sporting Peer Programs can be found on our website. Further information on our  Model Of Peer Support, can be found here:

Sporting Peer Program off to a flying start

What is it again? The Sporting Peer Program enhances the wellbeing of young sports people by integrating A Path To Follow’s peer program into existing structures within sporting and/or recreational settings. The program aims to: enhance community connection and prevention of mental wellbeing challenges in young people. support the development of important skills in participants required for increased confidence and leadership within their sporting setting and life. Develop and maintain a sustainable coaching model within the associated settings The Sporting Peer Program has been unanimously supported by the committee to run again in 2021. All sporting clubs rely heavily on volunteers to coach and OJFC is no different. This program aims to train, support and retain our young coaches, in line with the club philosophy of welcoming all abilities, genders and cultures and to reduce the reliance on parental volunteering. Our Senior Coaches (Mentors) play an integral role in mentoring our Junior Coaches, to become the best, the fairest and happiest coaches and community members they can be. The Sporting Peer Program will support participants via on the ground support, observational feedback, tip sheets and participation in training. This season we are excited to welcome A Path To Follow’s first employee, Aedan, to the program. Aedan is our Senior Peer Leader at Auskick and will support the Junior Coaches.  Aedan comes well versed in all areas of football at Ormond JFC. His dad was integral in the Auskick Program launching at Ormond, he has played all his junior years there and has now graduated the APTF  Sporting Peer Program to become an Assistant Coach, alongside his long time Mentor, Warren Bailey. 2021 18 Junior Coaches across Auskick to U13s at Ormond Junior Football Club. 10 from previous seasons and 8 new to the program All Junior Coaches have set Coaching Goals and Life Skill goals to attain through out the season.              

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