Wayne Schwass

Legendary AFL Footballer & Mental Health Advocate


Wayne Schwass captured Australia’s attention as one of the most successful football players in AFL history before going on to make a name as a broadcaster and mental health advocate.

Current work:

Since retiring from the AFL in 2002, Wayne has established himself as a highly respected AFL broadcaster on TV, radio, print and online. In addition to his work within the sporting world, Wayne has also become a passionate advocate for mental health awareness.

In 2006, Wayne founded the ‘Sunrise Foundation’, an organisation he created after becoming one of the first AFL players to speak openly about his experience with depression.

Though no longer operating, the ‘Sunrise Foundation’ focused on delivering preventative education programs to secondary school students between the years 2007 and 2010. More than 5000 students participated in the foundation’s ‘Headsmart’ program.

Wayne’s passion for health and wellbeing drew him back to mental health advocacy and in 2017 he launched ‘Puka Up’.

Puka Up is a social enterprise focusing on mental health, emotional wellbeing and, importantly, suicide prevention. PukaUp’s vison is to create environments for every person to have authentic and genuine conversations about mental health and emotional wellbeing.
As well as running Puka Up, Wayne also delivers his powerful and honest keynote speeches at countless mental health seminars and workshops, where his message never fails to resonate with audiences.

Previous experience:

Background & AFL: Wayne was born in New Zealand and raised in Warrnambool, Western Victoria, Wayne Schwass began playing Aussie Rules football at the age of ten. But with his undeniable talent and passion, it was not long before he was recruited to join the AFL- so in 1986, Wayne began playing for the North Melbourne Football Club.

From here, Wayne went from strength to strength, quickly becoming one of the most highly-rated players in AFL history. Wayne played 282 games at the elite level for fourteen and a half years, both with the North Melbourne Football Club (1988- 1997) and the Sydney Swans (1998-2002).

Sales: In 2010 Wayne successfully transitioned into a corporate sales role with Telstra Business Centre Melbourne West, a position he held until April 2017.


Talking Points