Quality on board to support rural mental health

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The newly-formed National Advisory Panel for Rural Community Wellbeing: Gen Dyson (Quality Wool & Livestock), Sallie Jones (Gippsland Dairy), Deborah Kennedy (SuperFriend), Bridget Garnham (Centre for Social Change, Uni SA), Sonia Muir (NSW Department of Primary Industries) & Lia Bryant (Centre for Social Change, Uni SA). Photo: Gippsland Jersey.

QUALITY Wool and Livestock has joined the fight against rising suicide rates in farming communities by backing a new National Advisory Panel, formed to tackle the scourge of mental illness in rural Australia.

Quality’s Business Support Manager Gen Dyson this month began her three-year term as a member of the National Advisory Panel for Rural Community Wellbeing, a group assembled to provide expert advice on key issues impacting rural community health, including farmer suicide prevention.

Founded by Associate Professor Lia Bryant from the University of South Australia’s Centre for Social Change, the panel gathered for their inaugural meeting at Adelaide’s Majestic Roof Garden Hotel on Thursday, November 9th.

Members of the National Advisory Panel include farmers involved in community wellbeing, government representatives from country health and primary industries, agricultural industries, agri-business and superannuation industries.

Ms Dyson said her position on the panel presented an opportunity to give a voice to Quality’s clients and represent their interests as the lifeblood of both the company and industry.

“It is humbling to be a part of a hand-picked bunch of passionate women, motivated by their own personal experiences to make a contribution, not only within their local community, but the Australian rural community as a whole,” she said.

“As a family business, the welfare of our clients and their families is something we truly value”.

The panel will gather in Adelaide on a bi-annual basis, with the next meeting scheduled for May next year.

According to data from national mental health charity SANE, suicide rates in rural regions are consistently 40 per cent above those in metropolitan areas, however 50 per cent less money is spent on mental health services in rural and remote Australia.

Stress and financial pressure due to drought, high travel times to access support services and a lingering stigma around mental illness in smaller communities have been identified as just a few of the contributing factors towards these alarming statistics.

Quality Wool and Livestock’s ongoing commitment to rural community health has included sponsorship of recent events such as the Coolamon Lions Club’s Shear 4 Mates day, raising awareness about suicide, mental health and general wellbeing in NSW’s Riverina region.

If you or someone you know is experiencing mental health issues, call: