What started as a light bulb idea amongst five blokes soon exploded into a potentially life-saving initiative, but now the Penrith Men’s Walk and Talk has been put on hold due to “red tape” and “bureaucracy” regarding insurance.
It is understood Penrith City Council has informed organisers of the event that it requires Public Liability Insurance, and that anyone taking part in the event who was injured would not be covered by Council.
Now running for 23 weeks, the walk has hosted over 1500 participants, opening up the dialogue amongst local boys and men to help break down the stigmas associated with mental health.
South Penrith resident Peter Pope said the insurance issue is ridiculous and that you can’t put a price on mental health awareness.
“This is about men’s health, not a profit making walk but a life-saving walk for many,” he said.
Yesterday, Mr Pope walked the route alone.
Organisers of the Penrith Men’s Walk and Talk issued a statement which urged locals to “stay strong” until the issue is resolved.
“We have made and are making, many enquiries to both get registered and also insurance so that the Penrith Men’s Walk and Talk can resume next week,” the statement said.
“Waivers don’t cover us. It’s political, it’s bureaucracy, it’s red tape, it’s total madness, but it’s the law.”
If an individual partakes in the river walk and injures themselves, Council is potentially liable.
But due to this being an advertised event, if the same person is injured, Council could be able to turn their claim away, making all organisers liable.
This afternoon, Penrith City Council issued a statement confirming it was working with the event organisers and a community organisation in an effort to see the walk return next week.
“Council is supportive of the group and has been working with them on a separate upcoming event,” a Council spokesperson said.
“From those discussions it was evident the increasing numbers of over 150 participants each week could put the organisers at risk should an incident occur on their weekly walks.
“It was a decision by the organisers to postpone the event this week while they assess their options.”
Council and a local community group are working to ensure this will be resolved before the next event.
It is understood both Penrith MP Stuart Ayres and Lindsay MP Melissa McIntosh are making inquiries.
A graduate of Western Sydney University, Nicola Barton is a news journalist with the Western Weekender, primarily covering crime and politics.