Serena Williams is raising money to support Australian mental health organisation the Black Dog Institute’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Centre.
The tennis champion and businesswoman is selling 70 items from her personal wardrobe — including pieces she wore at the 2018 US Open and the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Williams — the most successful player of the Open era with 23 major titles so far — will be selling the items via social marketplace Poshmark, which has recently launched in Australia.
All proceeds made will be donated to the Institute’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Centre launched earlier this year.
“I’m incredibly proud to be able to give back to the Black Dog Institute and raise awareness for the work the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Centre is doing,” Williams said.
“It is so important to elevate the voices of Australia’s First Nations Peoples and include culturally-led, safe and inclusive support for these communities.”
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Centre works towards delivering programs and services that improve mental health outcomes for First Nations peoples.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, as of 2019 suicide was the second highest cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and the fifth cause of death for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Black Dog Institute’s head of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lived Experience Centre, Leilani Darwin, said First Nations mental health responses were not up to scratch in Australia.
“We know that mental health services aren’t good enough in these communities in Australia and know we need to have self-determined governance in those communities where the support is needed,” Ms Darwin said.
She said Williams’ support was incredibly validating for the work being carried out at the Institute.
“I think the biggest win of this is for our communities and knowing that we have such a powerful strong Black woman who is supporting and promoting what we are doing and the things we’re trying to change,” Ms Darwin said.
“With our lived experience inclusion, it is hard for our people to share those experiences of losing someone to suicide and mental illness.
“To have her acknowledge that in such a public arena and doing some fundraising for us is so powerful.”
Although the Centre has some funding support, she said it was in need of sustainable funding to continue supporting mob.
“Because of this donation, we have money which means that we can do some things that we know are needed,” Ms Darwin said.
“We can do extra things that we couldn’t do that the community have identified that they needed and have found so helpful on their healing and recovery journey.
“We need to be self-sustainable. Our funding has an end date and we want to make sure that what we have started and what we are doing in the community is continued.
“Part of that is fundraising and having incredible people like Serena raising our profile and supporting us, that is how we get that done.”
Items are now live and can be purchased on Poshmark until they are sold out.
By Rachael Knowles