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New conversation about well-being rolled out in the bush

A program aimed at improving the mental health of graziers is working because it was built by the people who need it most.


The land in Gulf country doesn't treat its inhabitants well at the best of times.

Running cattle on remote stations is subject to so many factors that those living in big cities on the coast rarely hear about, much less understand.

When you throw in drought, weak market conditions, political misadventures like the ban on live cattle exports and other external influences, it is little wonder that the health and well-being of graziers is often pushed to the background.



But a new campaign aims to break down barriers and raise awareness of the importance of maintaining good mental health in the outback. And it's already having some early success.

The grass roots Mustering Wellness campaign aims to change the conversation about mental health in the bush.

The first-of- its-kind campaign is an initiative of the Gulf Cattleman’s Association (GCA) with partners Centacare Cairns, the Queensland Mental Health Commission and Brandtree Creative.

The program recently appointed its first project officer as part of its expanded rollout.

Project officer Katarina Keough will be based in Georgetown and work with the GCA to support even more graziers and communities in North-West Queensland.

The campaign also utilises social media to connect and inform families in the outback, including a popular Facebook page.

GCA president Barry Hughes said grazing industry families needed more support to address the many pressures they face.

Mr Hughes said the Mustering Wellness campaign - co-funded by Centacare Cairns and the QLD Mental Health Commission - had begun breaking down barriers that have "long hindered the well-being of graziers in the bush".

“Circumstances beyond the control of the grazing industry have dealt some telling blows to not only the industry but the communities that are built around cattle enterprises,” Mr Hughes said.

“Fire, drought, live cattle export bans, have led to financial pressures unprecedented in our industry which has had a profound effect on the psychological wellbeing across our region.

Mustering Wellness has given people the avenue to download through communication as well as enabling them to be involved by participation in what the campaign and website offers.”

Peta O’Neill from Partners in Recovery at Centacare Cairns said the Mustering Wellness campaign was working because the community helped develop the project from its inception.

“To see an industry and community who work so hard on the land everyday under very harsh conditions seek support and resources for the wellness of themselves and each other, sends a strong and important message to the human services sector,” Ms O’Neill said.

“People know what they need to be well and how they want to be supported. Mustering Wellness was developed by the community, for the community.”

Anita Veivers, Executive Director of Centacare Cairns, said the organisation was thrilled to be a partner on the project.

“Wellness is important to every one of us and working with the Gulf Cattleman’s Association to focus particularly on our rural communities, is an important project which Centacare is thrilled to be part of,” Ms Veivers said.

Gary Hubble, the Far North Queensland Partners In Recovery Manager, applauded the work of the Gulf Cattleman’s Association in recognising the need for mental health support services.

“Mental health should be everyone’s business and the GCA has proven this through their willingness to listen to the community, to promote mental wellness and to work collaboratively with agencies such as Centacare Cairns, BrandTree Creative and the Queensland Mental Health Commission,” Mr Hubble said.