Steve Whillas has been named a people's choice winner after receiving his fair share of votes in the 2021 National Men's Health Awards.
The national winner in his category, 'Local Men's Health Champion', is decided by a judging panel and was this year awarded to Lachie Samuel from Western Australia.
"I am extremely grateful and honoured to have been nominated and to have won the South Australian section...I'm going to use it to promote mental health to the advantage of regional South Australian people," Mr Whillas said.
Eyre Peninsula local Steve 'Willo' Whillas has been nominated for the 2021 National Men's Health Awards in the Local Men's Health Champion category.
He is the only South Australian shortlisted this year for the awards run by the Australian Men's Health Forum, which aim to recognise individuals who have worked to improve the health of men and boys in their communities.
Mr Whillas has driven vital drought and bushfire relief efforts on the Eyre Peninsula and in SA.
He founded the Eyre Peninsula Integrated Commodities (EPIC) charitable trust in August 2018 and helped raise money to purchase hay for farmers.
After raising $146,000 in 11 months, the trustees expanded the organisation's efforts to run events in drought-affected communities such as Streaky Bay and Cowell.
In 2018 Mr Whillas was also appointed as a Family and Business scout for the Primary Industries and Regions South Australia initiative to connect people with financial or emotional stress to support services.
In the last four years since raising money through his charitable trust he has continued to visit growers around the Eyre Peninsula, and has also begun to work in and around football clubs to promote men's mental health.
Mr Whillas said his driving force was his experience in the 2005 Wangary bushfire and the outcomes of that.
"I feel pretty priveleged to be nominated...I'm going to use it to promote mental health to the advantage of regional South Australian people," he said.
He said while he doesn't promote himself on any social media platforms, he was pleased that lots of people were hearing about the work he was doing.
"I'm grateful for those that have said they've voted for me...not everyone is connected to the internet and the connectivity you can have with someone face-to-face is amazing.
"My favourite part of my job is when you find somebody that is rock-bottom low and needs support and guidance, and by listening and helping you can stop it from getting too serious and you can make a difference."
Mr Whillas said he has connected with dozens of growers and locals on the Eyre Peninsula over the last two years and that given he travels the region for his grain trading business, it wasn't much more to help people "along the way".
He said he was hopeful that with the rain received and a good outlook for the season, people's finances could become stronger and help relieve some of the pressures they had been experiencing.
Mr Whillas also wanted to highlight the work of Mentally Fit EP and their support of his work.
"The more we can share the role the better off we're going to be," he said.
Mr Whillas' nominator said he gives tirelessly and has saved many lives.
"Steve will drive hours to sit with someone in their time of need or talk on the phone at all hours of the day," they said.
"In particular, he is a huge support to the men on the Eyre Peninsula as he can communicate with them and understands their issues across agriculture, fisheries, and more."
The winner of the Local Men's Health Champion category will be announced Tuesday, June 29.
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