Dan is a passionate angler, footy player and coach. He is also an Accredited Practising Dietitian and particularly interested in assisting people take charge of their health & wellbeing. Fishing is Dan’s version of mindfulness and he loves sharing the experience and its benefits with others. Dan and his family live in a rural community not far from Yarrawonga on the Murray River.
Family man and (almost) constant off-road tourer, Sönke has a particular interest in health promotion, governance, and community development. Sönke is a qualified 4WD operator and loves nothing more than sharing remote touring experiences with others. Sönke and his family live in Dookie, a rural community in northern Victoria that punches well above its weight. [PS: If you’re wondering how to say my name - try saying “Zernca”. Yep, that’s pretty close.]
Dan and Sönke had known each other for a few years before they established Giz A Break. Both worked in the same region and the primary health care sector, and both dreamt of combining their passion for healthy communities and the great outdoors. When they became aware of a grant that called for submissions addressing either physical exercise, mental health, healthy eating, or substance use, they immediately saw the opportunity to join forces and develop an innovative, exciting health promotion initiative. They submitted a proposal for the Giz A Break Drought Initiative to Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network and successfully cleared the selection process, which culminated in Pitch Night on 2 May 2019: Three finalists were given the opportunity to present their proposals to a room filled with more than 100 community members who each could pledge up to $900 each on the night. Dan and Sönke worked hard to refine their proposal and practiced their “pitch” tirelessly. They also engaged with social worker and drought coordinator Kirsten Green who validated the approach and advocated for them on the night. Judging by the audience’s engagement and the amount of funds pledged to Giz A Break on the night, we hit the nail on the head - the 33 communities represented in the room could relate their own drought-related experiences. They knew the extent to which drought affects their families and friends, and they saw the proposed initiative as a good approach to take meaningful, practical, and collaborative action. Sönke and Dan are now exploring the wider applicability of the concept and getting ready for delivering the very first drought initiative of its kind!