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Helping Dorset families get out and about

  • October 23, 2019
  • 3 min read

When we heard we could help families across Tasmania’s north-east be better connected to their community and to mental health support services – our people rallied together. 

Over 60 hampers of essential personal-care items like shampoo and sanitary products, together with funds raised, have been donated to the Out and About program, supporting families and young people in Tassie’s Dorset region experiencing social isolation.

The Out and About program – a partnership between the Dorset Suicide Prevention Network and Dorset Community House – travels to local townships to provide counselling and information about housing, mental health and other local support services, as well as simply connecting people through social activities like cooking and crafts.

When one of Fonterra’s farmers, Cheryl McCartie is not busy on her dairy, she’s heading the Dorset Suicide Prevention Network, as its Chair.

Cheryl says the program is an important support service for families who live and work locally.

“Isolation plays a huge impact on rural families’ mental health and wellbeing – for young children this might be because parents are working early mornings and late evenings in the dairy, and for single parents, they can find it difficult getting to the shop to get everyday items like deodorant or toothpaste,” says Cheryl.

“We want all young people to have the same start in life and for families to feel supported to care for their children. If we can help them make a new friendship or give children basics like deodorant so they can go to school feeling confident – it all makes a huge difference to health and wellbeing.”

Fonterra Farm Source Area Manager Deb Morice works with many farming families across the region and says she knows first-hand how important it is for farmers to feel connected to their local community.

“As a former dairy farmer myself, I know that running a dairy can be stressful and is often made worse by the remoteness that comes with being on a big property – some way from your nearest neighbour and it’s not as easy as nipping out to the shop when you’re out of coffee,” says Deb.

“When we heard about the Out and About program through one of our farmers, everyone from the Fonterra Farm Source team to our factories recognised what a fantastic initiative it is for our community, so we jumped at the chance to help.”

The Dorset Suicide Prevention Network is an open group of community members and health service providers seeking to raise awareness about mental health wellbeing and the factors that can lead to suicide. Through its contact with families and young people in the region, it also advocates for the range and level of support services people in the region need.