Wayne Schwass

Since capturing Australia’s attention as one of the most successful football players in AFL history, Wayne Schwass has gone on to make a name for himself in more ways than one.

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).
During his outstanding career, Wayne achieved the following honours: 
Morrish Medalist 1987 (VFL Under 19 League Best & Fairest)
Won three Club Best & Fairest awards (1994, 1995 NMFC & 1999 SSFC)
Pre Season Premiership play with NMFC 1995
Premiership player with NMFC 1996
All Australian 1999
NMFC Team of the Century
NMFC Hall of Fame
Since retiring in 2002, Wayne has established himself as a highly respected AFL broadcaster on TV, radio, print and online. However, 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.
Following this, Wayne successfully transitioned into a corporate sales role with Telstra Business Centre Melbourne West, a position he held until April 2017.
However, Wayne’s passion for health and wellbeing ultimately drew him back to mental health advocacy—and it was this same passion that led him to create ‘Puka Up’.
Launched in 2017, Puka Up is a social enterprise focusing on mental health, emotional wellbeing and, importantly, suicide prevention. According to Wayne, the PukaUp vision is to ‘create the 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.
In 2018 Wayne will continue as part of the Triple M AFL commentary Team, as host of ‘Off the Bench TV” and will make guest appearances on the Marngnook Footy Show.


  • Mental Health
  • Motivation
  • Master of Ceremonies


Wayne was fantastic. Wayne was enthusiastic and interactive with staff throughout his presentation. Highly recommend him.  Watersure
Wayne had our audience captivated by his speech – we have had many comments on how wonderful he was! Definitely a perfect choice for our event. He was also very generous towards our cause on the night.... Eastern Health Foundation
Wayne was informed, entertaining and brutally honest. He cut through the “fluff” when it comes to talking about mental health by sharing his raw experience – there was not a person in the room that didn’t relate to his message. Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria
Wayne engaged the group with his passion and authenticity.  The event was well attended and many people following up directly with Wayne and with our event coordinator to express their gratitude and appreciation for the opportunity to hear Wayne speak on the topic of mental health and suicide prevention.  Worksafe Victoria
Wayne was a great speaker – professional yet relaxed, and very humble. His content was perfectly pitched for the audience, and themed appropriately for our event. He was happy to pose for photos after the event, and was great with the children who were there. Would (and have!) recommend to others.  Bethany Community Support
Wayne is a is a highly intelligent visionary; whose dedication to his work in the mental health space is absolutely inspiring. The team at The Banksia Project were lucky enough to have Wayne participate in our 'mental health in sports' forum in May 2017; where Wayne’s insight and delivery were instrumental to the success of the event.  Vice-Chair, The Banksia Project
Wayne was honest, open, engaging and very refreshing. His interaction with the audience was extremely professional and the way in which he drew parallels to other types of illnesses without the stigma was excellent.  And last but not least, very entertaining and would recommend to change nothing.  Municipal Works Operations Association
Wayne spoke to about 110 of our employees and had them captivated for more than an hour with his passionate and honest story about his battle with depression. Wayne has the ability to connect with people’s hearts and minds. The workplace was abuzz with staff talking about Wayne’s story and his messages, and the positive impact on the workforce was considerable. I am confident the increased level of awareness around mental health issues will better equip our staff to seek help if they need it, and support those people suffering with mental health issues, both at work and at home.
Asset Manager, ENGIE Loy Yang B Power Station