Joe Williams to speak on wellness and suicide prevention to Cowra audience

Off the shelf: Wagga man, sportsman and mental health advocate Joe Williams, with his son Brodi Williams, 13, launched his revealing autobiography in Wagga.
Off the shelf: Wagga man, sportsman and mental health advocate Joe Williams, with his son Brodi Williams, 13, launched his revealing autobiography in Wagga.

Joe Williams says he has built a second chance at life.

The former rugby league star and published author of the Enemy Within, Williams will speak about suicide prevention and wellness motivation in Cowra on Tuesday, January 22.

The free evening begins at 6.30pm at the Cowra Bowling Club, hosted by the Cowra Information and Neighbourhood Centre.

Williams describes Defying the Enemy Within as a work that started off as jotting notes, to blogs, to an autobiography.

Having travelled across the world to educate children and adults about mental health and suicide prevention, Mr Williams said he was telling his story from A to Z – “roots and all”. 

“Everyone has mental health,” Mr Williams said.

“For some people it’s positive and for others it’s negative and we need to be able to talk about it, either way.”

He said the process of writing the 60,000 words had been healing and he hoped readers would be encouraged through his story. 

“The more we talk about it, the more it breaks down a stigma,” Mr Williams said.

“It is a tool for education.” 

In its pages he talk about his “joys in life but also the very raw depths of my darkness”.

“(The book takes the reader) from a childhood of sport, to alcohol and recreational and prescription drug addictions while playing in the National Rugby League.

“And the darkness that lead me to a suicide attempt and how I've built my second chance at life to helping others.

“The book also dedicates a section to how I thrive in everyday life with mental illness - turning the ordinary into the extraordinary.

“I’m so thankful to be alive to tell my story and happy to be helping others in their journey,” Williams said.

A Cowra Magpies junior, Joe Williams is the son of former star Magpie Wilfred Williams.

He made his way through the grades with the South Sydney Rabbitohs and was selected to play for the Australian schoolboys.

He played semi final football for South and also played for their feeder club te North Sydney Bears in a grand final.

He also played for the Penrith Panthers and the Canterbury Bulldogs before playing senior football in Wagga Wagga and Dubbo.

He has also tried his hand at professional boxing.

In 2014 he successfully defended his World Boxing Federation (WBF) junior welterweight world title against Indonesian opponent Rusmin Kie Raha. He also obtained a World Boxing Association (WBA) Asian title with a unanimous points victory.

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