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On the same wavelength

03 May 2022

On the same wavelength

As founder and director of Borderline Australia, Cody Schaeffer is helping to ensure young people with mental health issues don’t suffer the same sense of isolation he did.

Cody Schaeffer knows what it’s like to struggle with mental health.

“When I was 15, I went through my own mental health battles,” he says. “I went down this path of destruction. I would steal things. I was such a rebellious teenager."

“There was well and truly not enough support in regional Queensland, where I grew up. I had no idea what was going through my mind. I had no idea what anxiety was. And I was too scared to ask anyone."

"I always thought, ‘I wish there was somewhere I could go to meet other young people … and just speak openly about it, and freely and positively about it. So I know what’s happening, and I know it’s not a bad thing.’"
Cody Schaeffer

Today, thanks to Cody, such a place exists. In 2019, when working as a radio presenter in Brisbane, Cody set up Borderline Australia, a charity (named after the border country in which Cody grew up) that runs programs for young people in Queensland and New South Wales.

One of its main initiatives are Borderline Youth Camps, free retreats where 15- to 18-year-olds can listen to inspirational speakers, take part in team building and leadership activities, meet others going through the same things they are, and learn about mental health “in a way that’s cool, rather than boring”.

“We’ve seen that it changes lives,” Cody says. “It saves lives. Young people say, ‘That wasn’t what I expected it to be.’ And there needs to be more things like it.”

Sense of community

“Community was always a huge thing for me,” he says. And, partly inspired by his Pop, a dedicated Rotarian, Cody found it the most natural thing in the world to go out of his way for others.

“I was always this kid that wanted to take action and help people,” he says.

At 15, he organised a fundraising concert in his hometown of Goondiwindi for the family of a child who had suffered a brain injury. And at 16, he launched G-YOUTH (Gundy Youth Studio), a weekly after-school event that taught kids hip-hop dance to get them off the streets.

“We started with about five kids. And then, within weeks of people hearing about it, we had about 80 kids every Wednesday afternoon.”

Cody’s efforts haven’t gone unnoticed: he was Brisbane’s 2020 Young Citizen of the Year, and is the Queensland nominee for Young Australian of the Year 2022.

Last year he gave up his radio career to concentrate on Borderline Australia full-time. And it’s a decision he doesn’t regret.

“We spend every minute of every day trying to make a difference … making mental health more of a positive: yes, you’re going through something; yes, we can help you; and, yes, you can help yourself.

“Working in radio was great but I just felt like I lacked purpose. This is what I’m supposed to be doing. This has given me purpose … and that’s a remarkable feeling.”


Stories of Help
Mental Health