28:38 | News and current affairs

Australian Story

Hit The Road Jack  |  ABC

Introduced by Rupert Murdoch. Driven by personal tragedy, a former diplomat abandons his political ambitions, to confront a pandemic affecting young lives. "When I look back, I've been through a lot of pretty traumatic times. I've faced demons. And in the course of that, I've stumbled upon what I feel now is my life purpose... helping young people face their demons and actually get to a better place." - Jack Heath "He's one of the most decent people in the world. A man of many qualities. He's devoted to what he does. But what he does is so clearly unselfish and good for other people. He really is an inspiration." - Rupert Murdoch When the suicide of his 21-year-old cousin followed soon after the murder of a close friend, Jack Heath was forced to address his own repressed childhood trauma. This self reflection produced a watershed moment for the former diplomat, political advisor and Keating confidante, and set him on a transformative course with far reaching consequences. Seeking a more meaningful life, Jack Heath turned his back on a promising political career, and sought cooperation and investment from corporate Australia to establish the Inspire Foundation - a not-for-profit organisation committed to supporting and inspiring youth, reducing youth suicide and eliminating the stigma of mental illness. By extension, the Foundation's Reach Out online initiative has provided Jack Heath with the opportunity to exorcise some of his own demons while changing the lives of many at-risk 14-25 year old Australians. "Jack had the reputation of being a 'Superman' - he had this tremendous drive to make a difference. Resigning his position from Keating's office was definitely the hardest thing he has ever had to do. Once he'd done that, he then had to face everything about himself. It was like he threw himself off a cliff." - Michael Rennie, benefactor and friend. When the interactive Reach Out website was established in 1997, Australia had one of the highest rates of youth suicide in the western world. Over the past decade, suicide among young Australians has almost halved - an extraordinary public health achievement. This is a story about a high flyer whose personal commitment to the cause helped achieve this significant reversal - and who now aims to replicate Australia's success internationally. Producer: Renata Gombac Executive Producer: Deborah Fleming

54:44 | News and current affairs

Big Ideas

25/8/2010  |  ABC

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