Expeditioners across all four Antarctic and sub-Antarctic research stations and staff at head office in Hobart have been pushing their bodies to the limit for a good cause.

Building community

Teams competed in the annual Push-Up Challenge which aims to enhance mental health awareness and raise money for mental health charities.

Across 24 days, 94 people from across the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) have done 3,249 push-ups or alternative exercises in some of the most breathtaking locations on the planet. 3,249 represents the lives lost to suicide in Australia in 2022.

AAD Organisational Psychologist, Maree Riley says the way the Antarctic community has come together is the best part of the challenge.

“It builds our community even stronger across the stations and here at head office. While we are supporting a great cause, we’re also improving our physical and mental health and comradery in the program and having some really great and open conversations about mental health.

“Every person involved in the challenge, and those that have supported us through their donations, are absolute legends,” she said.

Easy as 1... 2... 3...

For Dave Buller, Station Leader at Casey research station, he says half the challenge is getting the time to get the push-ups in.

“Expeditioners have had to adopt a bit of a routine to fit in the high numbers of push-ups. Whether this be doing some during morning boxing classes, in the workplace or even in the room before heading to bed,” he said.

This sentiment is carried across the Southern Ocean to the Macquarie Island research station with Ranger in Charge Amy Lewis saying they were very good at reminding each other when they hadn’t quite made their target for the day yet.

“There’s a lot of ‘drop and give me 20’ happening through-out the day!” she said.

Friendly competition pushing things along

While the challenge is all in the name of a good cause, some friendly competition is helping push it along.

Ali Dean, Station Leader at Mawson research station said there were many reasons why her team were taking part in the push up challenge this year.

“It’s an excellent initiative and great community building for the AAD and we’re also raising money for charities that mean something to us individually.”

“We also couldn’t have the other stations doing something without us!” she said.

Dave Buller and Amy Lewis also agreed saying the friendly ‘banter’, encouragement and competition between individuals but also across the stations and head office was an added bonus to the challenge.

All in the name of a good cause

The competitive juices have also been flowing at AAD Head Office in Kingston, where Dan Wilkins, a Remediation Data Specialist, is Team Captain.

“We have 14 amazing individuals in our team, and as team captain I am proud of each and every one of them,” he said.

“We are the second largest team at the Division and represent 15% of the whole.”

 Mr Wilkins said there are a range of positive outcomes related to the Push Up Challenge.

“For some, it is a challenge they have participated in every year for multiple years, and an opportunity for some friendly camaraderie with our colleagues in Antarctica and here at Head Office.

“For others, it is their first time. Most people participate to improve their own mental health and to support mental health awareness.”

The Push-Up Challenge ran from 5 June to 28 June.

Find out more about the Australian Antarctic Division’s teams on the Push Up Challenge’s website