Craig Lowndes has directed a six-figure grant to a charity for injured Australian Defence Force members as part of a program run by the foundation of the late Paul Newman.
Newman’s Own Foundation, founded by the actor and motorsport identity, put up $100,000 for each of seven sporting personalities to give to an Australian charity.
Lowndes nominated the Mates4Mates charity, which provides support and rehabilitation services for current and former ADF members who have incurred physical injuries or psychological trauma in their service, and their families.
“Our veterans deserve support as they continue the journey of rebuilding their lives,” said Lowndes, who, along with wife Lara, is an ambassador for Mates4Mates.
“Many have physical and psychological injuries as a result of their service within the Defence Force.
“They have protected us, so we need to look after them and their families.
“As sportspeople, we have the opportunity to set an example, whether that is being responsible on the roads or saying it’s ok to ask for support when you need it.”
The grant will fund the Mates4Mates Social Connection Programs for veterans and their families and also go towards the STAIR Program (Skills Training in Affect and Interpersonal Regulation), which promotes interpersonal skills.
It will allow for four Mates to study a Diploma in Counselling and then facilitate the 12-week program for other Mates, covering such topics as emotional awareness, distress tolerance, changing relationship patterns, and compassion for self and others.
“Funding like this is vital to ensure that we can reach out to more veterans in need,” said Mates4Mates Chief Executive Office, Troy Watson.
“Mates4Mates was established to provide a support structure for those serving and ex-serving Defence members that need help.
“In providing opportunities for our Mates and family members to engage in our services through our Social Connection Programs and the STAIR Program, we can support their road to recovery and help minimise the struggles associated with transitioning.”
Newman’s Own Foundation President and CEO Robert Forrester said Lowndes’ influence in the process was fitting given Newman’s history in motorsport, including as co-owner of a highly successful Champ Car team.
“While Paul Newman was best known as a movie star, he was also a passionate and successful championship racing car driver,” said Forrester.
“His other passion was philanthropy, and he believed everyone has the power to make a difference. We’re pleased to recognise Craig’s and other Australian sports stars’ commitment to giving back and influencing others to do the same.”
Mates4Mates currently has 3,724 registered Mates and family members across Australia and provides more than 26,000 face-to-face contacts annually.