In 2013, a group of seven Central Queensland women gathered together to provide support to each other while having a few drinks. Who would have thought that from such small beginnings, such great things could be achieved. This group of women, some of whom had been touched by suicide decided to do something about suicide and mental illness within Central Queensland, and remove the stigma associated with mental illness and depression.

They realised there wasn’t a lot of support for young people and their families particularly around suicide and mental ill health. So they decided to raise funds through a charity ball – the Black Dog Ball was born.

Tracey Watt, one of the seven women, explained the origins of the Black Dog Ball and the success the group has made in just three short years.

“Given our motivations and reasons for raising funds, it is fitting the ball is held annually during Mental Health Week each October,” Tracey said.

“In our first year, we attracted 320, now in just three short years that has grown to 450 people,” Tracey said.

“This year and last year we were sold out three weeks before the ball,” she said.

The success of the ball can be attributed to the dedication of the seven women in obtaining sponsorships and donations to regularly raise $25,000 for suicide prevention charities.

“We thank Mercy Health and Aged Care Central Queensland Limited for their continued support as the major sponsor of the Black Dog Ball,” Tracey said.

“Their support is integral to the community that benefits from the funds raised,” she said.

Each year the Black Dog Ball is staged at Paradise Lagoons, 15 minutes out of Rockhampton. Ball goers begin the evening at Archer Park Railway Station for pre-dinner refreshments before being bussed to Paradise Lagoons for a night of fun and festivities.

The Black Dog Ball has very generously donated $25,000 to the MATES in Construction Life Skills Tool Box program. A program that focuses on providing all important life skills to young apprentices in the construction industry, including how to recognise the signs that your mate is doing it tough.

Previously, the Black Dog Ball has donated to Headspace, and throughout 2015, partnered with Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service to deliver ASIST training free of charge in the rural communities of Longreach, Biloela, Emerald and Rockhampton.

Thank you to everyone that supported the Black Dog Ball and thank you to a great group of women. We wish you every success for the Ball next year!