Wellness in Tough Times

Catherine Pattison Recovery Officer, Rural Recovery Support Service, Grafton Department of Primary Industries

In June 2021, the Rural Recovery Support Service held the first of the Clarence Valley “Tailgates4Mates” sessions in Nymboida. Our local Bushfire Clinician joined us to adopt Greg Mills’s program to encourage men to pull up and have a yarn, and a sausage sandwich—providing support to each other and informal access to mental health support. Constant messaging from this community is that the local men need “something” to be more connected. There are many who live alone and are quite isolated. It was wonderful to see new faces and old connect. We heard comments on how great it was to see each other after such a long time, and others introduced themselves. They spoke of their situations as a result of the fire and offered support and help to each other—and had many laughs!

We provided the attendees with wallet cards as a conversation starter to help their mates access support. The front of the card has support line telephone numbers; the back has a place to write your own number and pass on to a mate, reinforcing that our service will not be around for the long term and the community need to support each other. The feedback and gratitude they expressed for the support we have provided was amazing, and for some, our little BBQ on the side of the road in the cold broke down the barrier around

Photo credit: APEN team

accessing mental health support. The event provided new contacts for our service to follow up on, and the wallet cards were a simple way to start the conversation around looking out for one another.

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