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Headspace withdraws support for RU OK? Day
National youth mental health foundation headspace has pulled out as a partner of awareness campaign RU OK? Day due to the involvement of the Gloria Jean’s Coffees chain, which is a major sponsor.
Headspace had been part of the national day of action to prevent suicide for the last two years and was actively involved in promoting its activities and messages through its own networks.
In a statement released this afternoon, the organisation said it was uncomfortable about the support RU OK? Day was receiving from Gloria Jean’s because of the coffee chain’s $30,000 donation to the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL).
“Whilst we acknowledge the excellent work RU OK? Day and its partners have done in raising awareness about mental health issues, we have a significant level of discomfort about the relationship between RU OK? Day’s sponsor Gloria Jeans and the ACL,” the statement read.
“The recent revelations that [Gloria Jean's] made a significant donation to the ACL in 2010 has given us cause for concern.”
The organisation said it was particularly concerned about comments from ACL managing director Jim Wallace on a range of issues, including homosexuality, refugees, equal marriage and non-Christian faiths.
“Headspace supports the right of organisations such as the ACL to free speech. However, when that free speech has the potential to harm the quality of life of young people and perpetuate bigotry, inequality, fear and violence we know we have a responsibility to stand up for the rights of those whose voices are so often unheard,” the statement continued.
“Too many young people seek help from headspace for issues caused or exacerbated by entrenched discrimination, social isolation, bullying or negative attitudes towards difference.
“It is because of this that headspace feels it has a moral and ethical duty to withdraw as a partner of RU OK? Day.”
Gloria Jean’s caused a social media backlash after it emerged the café franchise donated to the anti-gay group. It was bombarded with boycott messages on its official Facebook page and on Twitter.
The coffee chain has also been linked with the anti-gay Hillsong Church and Mercy Ministries, although it denied any connections between the Australian franchises and the church in a statement this week.
RU OK Day? has been contacted for comment.