As an ambassador of Australia’s leading mental health service, Reach Out, Sydney-based food and health advocate Tracey-Anne Oxley is at the heart of the cause, in an effort to continue aiding youth and their mental health journey. Compassionate and a with a fabulous sense of style and grace, X-Files learns more about Tracey-Anne’s pursuit.
Can you describe the motivating factor behind working with Reach Out?
My motivation for getting involved in mental health organisations is a personal one. My mother suffered from mental illness her whole life which resulted in her suicide when I was a teenager. I believe early intervention is key to good mental health, depressed or anxious teenagers can lead to depressed or anxious adults so having an understanding of your genetics and how to manage your emotions from a young age is paramount to your mental health.
Courtesy of Moda Familia, Tracey-Anne wears Mother of Pearl, Isabel Marant & Valentino from Parlour X.
How can we get wiser about mental health?
We have come a long way in how we talk about mental health, there are so many fantastic organisations that open up a conversation that needs to be had. I encourage people to keep talking about mental health, this is a real issue and the more we close the door on it the more people will suffer. Arm yourself with knowledge, there will be a time when a friend, family member or colleague may need your help.
Why do you believe mental health it’s such a taboo subject?
Put simply, a lack of understanding. There is still that notion that people with mental health issues are not coping or it may be seen as a personal weakness and that you should be able to control it without help. Seeking counselling for yourself about your condition and connecting with others who have mental illness can help gain self-esteem and overcome destructive self judgement.
The most rewarding moment so far has been…
Definitely the Reach Out lunch I held last year in my home, not only did we raise close to one hundred thousand dollars, it also created ripples in the community by raising awareness on mental health organisations like Reach Out and the importance of educating ourselves and our kids. Also signing up with Raise Foundation to become a mentor this year been very rewarding, having a one on one experience with a young person has been an incredible journey, you can really see how much you are helping them by just being there and you learn so much about yourself along the way. Having a mentor at a pivotal age can make an extraordinary difference to well-being and an easier transition from adolescence to adulthood.
Courtesy of Moda Familia, Tracey-Anne wears Mother of Pearl from Parlour X.
What passions or vocations do you have outside your philanthropic causes?
My kids, most definitely. Having a mother with mental health issues who was there but not really there had a profound impact. Being the best, I can be for them is really important to me.
Talk to us about your journey to health and food.
After the pain of my mum’s passing, thankfully I had an epiphany at age 26 and took myself off to a health retreat to detox and never looked back. I was raised on ‘meat and two veg’, needless to say I am very creative in the kitchen. Healthy food is extremely important to me, eating nutrient rich foods with limited processed sugar makes me feel alive. Eating unhealthy has an impact on my digestive health so I avoid it at all costs. Exercise is a massive daily routine for me, especially for my wellbeing and mental health, moving and eating well gives me energy and keeps me in tune with my body.
As a mother of three, what are your experiences on balancing motherhood, philanthropy and your own interests and ventures?
I am very good at balancing my own needs with my family and a big believer that charity starts in the home first. Having two teenagers and an 8-year-old I have now come to a time in my life where I would like to study. Finding my passion has recently come full circle. Being mothers, we sometimes forget what our own interests are and what makes us happy, we sacrifice so much for our families however we must understand that when we are happy and satisfied then we are showing our children the way.
Courtesy of Moda Familia, Tracey Anne wears Celine and Isabel Marant from Parlour X.
What words do you live by, or what has been your biggest life lesson?
Ok, my main mantra is, I believe we are born into this world pure and I believe we should exit as pure as we can. We accumulate so much baggage along the way that it can affect all of our relationships. Working on yourself is no easy feat but peeling away all those layers is so important for personal growth, being vulnerable is my biggest challenge however it is a work in progress! When we let our walls down and be as raw as we can with others, that’s when the magic happens, friendships deepen, and you make real connections.
How did you fall in love with fashion and where do you cultivate your fashion inspiration from?
I was a bit of a tom boy growing up and if I wasn’t in jodhpurs then I was barefoot in shorts so I could climb trees. Modelling when I was a teenager opened up my love for fashion. Olivia Palermo’s style inspires me, effortless and feminine with a modern edge.
Define your personal style philosophy for off-duty style and when hosting events.
Comfort is of most importance when it comes to my personal style, I like to keep it simple with basics like a good pair of modern jeans with a t-shirt and classic blazer. I love feminine dresses, but it has to have an edge. Having fun with fashion by adding some crazy shoes or accessories is very me, taking it too seriously is boring but having good quality pieces that you love is a must as you get older.
Your best brunch or dining spots in Sydney…
To choose one favourite place is impossible! Anything Merivale always works. Catalina or Icebergs are go to when friends visit from interstate, they showcase how beautiful Sydney is. A favourite family restaurant is Marta Osteria in Rushcutters Bay, always great food with great service plus the kids love it.
Courtesy of Moda Familia, Tracey Anne wears Valentino from Parlour X.
As you are so often entertaining, what is your go-to resource or recipe?
Entertaining has to be effortless; I can’t stand being hectic in the kitchen when I have guests. Grazing tables are the way to go for casual entertaining. Small groups I cook, large groups I outsource, it’s the only way….
What are you favourite recipes when cooking for your family or entertaining?
When cooking for my family I like to do a rotation of personal favourites as each family member has different tastes. Apparently I make a mean chicken cottage pie and a hot family favourite is salmon with seasonal vegetables and a sesame tamari sauce with jasmine rice, simple but effective.
As a Sydney-sider, where are your go to luxury relaxation or wellness spots. ie. Pilates, Spa, Facial, Brows.
I get bored easily and like to mix it up, from pilates to spin to weight training, however pilates is my newfound love and my favourite places to go are Body Love , Vive Active and The Well. Shelter is my heart starter each week. Taking care of my skin has been an imperative part of my daily routine, facials every 8 weeks is paramount to keeping it healthy. Rationale Clinic in Woollahra is my go to for regular facials and Eva Karpati for clinical treatments such as IPL or Laser. A holistic approach to my well being is priority, I have a counsellor for my mental health and a chiropractor to keep my body in check, when my physical, mental, emotional and social health are good then I am at my optimum.
To learn more about Tracey-Anne’s work with Reach Out or donate to the cause, click through to the organisation here, and take a look at Raise Foundation here. Parlour X thanks to Moda Familia for providing imagery.