After a celebrated 14-year AFL playing career, Wayne Schwass went on to establish himself as a respected sports media broadcaster a position he held until 2019.
In addition to his work in the AFL industry, Wayne has become a wellbeing champion since first talking about his own mental health experiences in 2006. He has taken on several important roles in the community including being the lead witness in the 2019 Royal Commission into the Victorian Mental Health System, serving as a panel member for the review of the Victorian Mental Health Act 1986 as well as being a leading voice for mental health and emotional wellbeing.
His personal experiences with mental health conditions throughout the majority of his sporting career combined with his passion to help others, led Wayne to create the Sunrise Foundation, a Not-for-Profit organisation that delivered preventative education programs to more than 5,000 secondary school students between 2006 and 2010.
The Sunrise Foundation laid the foundations for PukaUp, an organisation Wayne founded in 2017. PukaUp is a social enterprise passionately committed to normalising mental health and emotional wellbeing and giving people the opportunity to start their own
The PukaUp vision is to end suicide and its mission is to create the environments that allow every person to have authentic and genuine
conversations about mental health and emotional wellbeing.
For the past 16 years, Wayne has delivered his entertaining, engaging and inspiring presentations to more than 800 organisations, businesses and community groups across the country. Wayne’s powerful story-telling ability, humour, authenticity and vulnerability coupled with his practical and relatable delivery, allows him to consistently connect with and inspire audiences to take action.
Wayne’s passion is both obvious and infectious. His ability to engage audiences from all walks of life and experiences combined with his unique story-telling ability is the reason why he is regarded as one of the country’s best mental health advocates. These, engaging and inspiring presentations continue to have an incredibly powerful and positive impact on audiences and these conversations have been lifechanging and in some cases life saving for many people.
Wayne’s goal is to keep people healthy, empowering participants to take ownership of their mental health and start their wellbeing journey. The aim of these presentations, is to give people the environments and safe space to be able to talk openly and honestly about mental health, help audiences understand and start to develop the language and confidence to begin having their own conversations about wellbeing and to walk away with a range of practical strategies, techniques and tools that allow participants to looking after their mental health.
Wayne’s presentations consistently receive phenomenal feedback, are engaging, memorable and have been incredibly beneficial to my employees and clients. Not only do I feel the presentations are great for business networking, I believe they help us achieve our goal of “changing people’s lives”.– David George, Managing Director, PageGroup
Having proactive, open and honest conversations about mental health and wellbeing is a must for our business. Our partnership with PukaUp was formed over 4 years ago, and it’s been so successful that we have broadened their involvement, with Wayne presenting his thought provoking messages to all staff across our sites and offices. Wayne is authentic, passionate and inspiring –the perfect recipe to reduce the stigma and put mental health in the forefront of peoples minds.– Jeff Dhu, Director Foodservice, Fonterra
Having seen Wayne present a number of times … he keeps on getting better and better. He engages his audience brilliantly and has the wonderful ability of creating a safe and honest environment where people can truly open up and share their stories. Wayne truly cares for people.– Rian Cust, Manager - Regional Sales Southern Region (Vic/Tas), Toyota Australia
We are so grateful for the connection we have made to Puka Up through Wayne’s great work. His ability to articulate his wellbeing challenges in such a relatable way has been so engaging for all our personnel. The open and authentic conversations that flow following Wayne’s presentations has created a step change in our personnel’s understanding and awareness of mental health issues, including a stronger personal ownership over their own wellbeing as well as that of their work colleagues.– Russell Telford, Group Managing Director, AG Coombs