Written by Kerrie Alexander
After many hurdles, a Hervey Bay swimsuit model, mental health advocate and tour guide and host, has etched an exceptional path to personal successes.
Meet the beautiful soul that is Melanie Bragg.
The 28-year-old only moved to the region in 2019 but has made herself known in the community after organising and taking part in the Fraser Island Charity Walk, which raised a staggering $50,000 for mental health charity Mindfull Aus.
Melanie was also recently selected to be a part of an Adventure All-Stars TV Show that combines raising funds, again for Mindfull Aus, and supporting the struggling tourism industry, which are two of her biggest passions.
Set that aside, and on most other days you will find the charismatic lady behind the microphone, working as a host on the Tasman Venture Whale Watch boat and a K’gari tour guide in the whale watching off season.
She has also played a big part in fundraising for a bush fire appeal and has been a volunteer for Sea Shepard.
However, Melanie hasn’t always been the shining beacon of confidence you see on our pages today.
From a young age she struggled with PTSD and other mental health challenges and sadly, even lost some friends to suicide along the way.
Melanie attempted suicide in her teens and was only saved by the support from loving family and friends and mental health services that gave her the tools and information to help get through the toughest days.
Coupled with this help and the power of positivity, Melanie now speaks openly about her experience and has become an advocate for mental health to help others in a similar situation from becoming a statistic.
Suicide is the leading cause of death for people aged 15 to 49 years.
This is the whole-hearted reason she spent about 12 months and countless hours planning Fraser Island Charity Walk and braving the camera for the Adventure All-Stars experience.
“Addressing the challenges of mental health is so important to me because suicide is a choice that comes from such a state of helplessness … a state I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy,” Melanie said.
“I am passionate because there is so much information, research, and tools out there that can genuinely help people who experience mental health challenges that are sadly not just readily given to us.
“I learnt this the hard way, as a 13-year-old girl battling depression and suicidal thoughts.
“The reason I choose this charity is because they are spreading the information that will help save lives, the information that we should be giving to our communities or being supplied by our medical professionals.”
Melanie said the FICW was absolutely a highlight of the year and seeing the end tally raised by the community for such a vital cause was beyond heart-warming.
“To be honest, I don’t think I can even comprehend how much this will actually help people, however, to think that it may even just help one person to see an alternate route other than suicide, brings me to tears … happy ones.
“I believe in this charity a lot and know they will make a life-changing impact on many.
“In fact, they already did with the CEO and mental health speaker, Matt Runnalls, speaking at the FICW itself.
“I know that will have a ripple effect. It already has.”
The young go-getter has also been working on a very special project for her adored dad, Michael, who was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.
This disease is a progressive, degenerative neurological condition that affects a person’s control of their body movements.
A carpenter by trade, the diagnosis led Michael to close his business and make memories while he was still able.
Melanie penned a bucket list with the catch that each experience had to be done with a family member.
Next thing you know, the father-daughter duo was auditioning for the much-loved Australian reality television series ‘The Block’.
The two have just completed their second audition tape which was filmed in Hervey Bay, and have everything crossed that they will be selected for the 2022 season.
Melanie put a shoutout on Facebook for props and filming locations and the Fraser Coast community more than came up with the goods.
“I made dad a chart of bucket list like items that he could do to improve his quality of life and make memories.
“Wanting to increase our father-daughter memories, and being fans of the show, we thought “what better way to do this than The Block?!”.
“The Filming we did here (Hervey Bay) with a local upcoming videography company called RAM Media House.
“We were so lucky to find such a talented guy to assist us.
“We had a pretty out-there idea for our application, so we sought help from the Hervey Bay Community Page, and we were not disappointed!
“The help from the community was beautiful and everyone was so supportive and eager to assist.”
The world really is Melanie’s oyster, having already had a long line of successes in her modelling career.
Like taking out the Townsville 400 racing and Miss Hawaiian Tropics, to winning the title of Opal Veve Dream Girl that allowed her to model a $35,000 swimsuit while raising funds for mental health awareness.
Now, her most recent job on Tasman Venture, is the icing on the cake!
“I started volunteering at the marina before whale season 2020 and when Tasman Venture was hiring, I was able to get a referral and start straight away. Little did I know what I was in for! Wow!
“Fast-forward another year and I was asked to get completely out of my comfort zone and become a microphone host for the season.
“It has been the best job that I have been able to experience.
“Outside of whale season, I am a tour guide on K’gari, Fraser Island, the largest sand island in the world!”
Melanie said the biggest change in her life since working through the challenges of the mental health was being able to see the bigger picture in life, which has ultimately led her to the work she is doing today.
“I have seen many professionals and have read books and feel so much more empowered and educated to overcome challenging times, thoughts and situations.
“In the end, I am extremely grateful that I have a positive, healthier, and more empowering relationship with the world and the voice in my head.
“What’s changed: The feeling of getting to live this life, not ‘having to’.”
Congratulations Melanie! The team at Alive wish you all the very best for what the future holds.
The Block auditions can be found on YouTube under BEST Block Audition – Melanie and Michael Bragg.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, there is help available. Please remember, it aint weak to speak!
Lifeline 13 11 14
Headspace 1800 650 890
Beyondblue 1300 224 636
Suicide call back service 1300 659 467
Fraser Coast Mates frasercoastmates.com.au