It was just over 30 years ago when the late Danny Frawley proudly led St Kilda onto his beloved Moorabbin Oval for the final AFL game at the venue in 1992.
A chapter of St Kilda’s history came to a close that day, and now, three decades on, the next entry is being penned in Frawley’s legacy.
Construction on Stage 2 of the Danny Frawley Centre for Health and Wellbeing (DFC) has officially concluded, with the centre now boasting a new community gym, yoga and pilates studios and mental health consulting suites.
‘Spud’ may no longer be with us to see it, but his memory and legacy still looms large, made in even more special by the involvement of his family.
Chelsea Frawley, eldest daughter of the Frawley Family, has been there from the beginning.
“The overriding emotion for me is pride,” Frawley, who is currently working as the DFC’s Partnerships and Stakeholder Engagement Manager, said.
Now with works complete, the DFC is navigating its way towards its next frontier.
As outlined in the DFC’s inaugural 2022-2023 Impact Report, the bayside facility will focus the next 12 months on the implementation of DFC Psychology – run in partnership with Monash University’s Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health – to provide numerous mental health treatment services, spanning specialist areas such as neuropsychology, sleep and the all-too-common conditions of anxiety and depression.
Currently in Australia, 1 in 3 psychologists are unable to see new clients. Prior to the onset of COVID-19, only 1 in 100 psychologists weren’t taking on those in need of support.
The DFC will additionally upscale its various community programs and implement DFC Mental Fitness Coaching to help build a more resilient and well-equipped community.
“Now more than ever people need psychologists. For the DFC to be able to help, even in a small way, is special,” Frawley said.
“It is amazing to think people can come to the DFC to learn more about their mental fitness, and how to train and prioritise it like they do their physical health.
“No matter where you are in your well-being journey, there is something for you.”
It will be four years this September since Danny Frawley tragically passed, however the legacy he has left behind continues as strong as ever.
Over past 12 months, more than 21,000 visits to the centre were registered, encompassing aquatic and recovery centre use, community visits and more.
More than 200 mental health and wellbeing programs were facilitated, including the suicide prevention course safeTALK, Movember’s Ahead of the Game, Play to Your Strengths and Point & Be Proud, which reached over 8000 young people from various schools and sporting clubs.
Now, the integration of mental fitness exercises to help boost awareness, regulation and healthy responses to challenging circumstances associated with mental ill-health will headline the next evolution of Spud’s legacy.
“We have created a place of incredible meaning as soon as we opened the doors and have honoured Danny’s name. I couldn’t be more proud,” Executive Director of the Danny Frawley Centre, Kirstan Corben, said.
“More and more of us are realising the value of prevention. We know we can be far more proactive and build and protect our mental health, specifically our mental fitness, to prevent mental illness and ultimately make our lives better.
“Mental illness is one of the toughest challenges of our lifetime. Danny and the Frawley family have gifted an important opportunity to make a real difference.
“As I reflect on the DFC’s first year, including all the hugs, tears and stories, I feel most proud of our team. We know why we’re here, we’ve had a great year and we’re only just getting started.”
Frawley’s legacy will resonate through the AFL world once again through this year’s Spud’s Game: A Match for Mental Health, which was today confirmed for St Kilda’s Round 15 match against Brisbane on Friday 23 June.
Last year’s marquee fixture raised $605,000 for the DFC and its mental health and community programs, contributing almost half of the $1.2 million raised over the past 12 months.
“It’s immensely special to have Danny’s legacy fully realised with the completion of Stage 2, which will have a lasting impact for all who come through,” St Kilda CEO Simon Lethlean said.
“We know that football is a great connector of people, so to have the Danny Frawley Centre for Health and Wellbeing making a tangible and meaningful difference to athletes, their families and the wider community, isn’t lost on us.
“Whether it was on or off the field, Danny was always willing to put his arm around anyone and everyone to lend a helping hand. The DFC is now doing the same, and I think he’d be so proud of that fact.”