Brad Hogg 2023 ‘take a break tour’ launched
Grain Producers Australia’s mental health initiative returns in 2023, launching a new theme and key messages highlighting the importance of farmers taking a break, to stay fit, fresh and healthy.
GPA’s Farmer Mates Mental Health initiative started in 2022, partnering GPA with Nufarm, Rural Aid and Lifeline. Australian cricketing legend, Brad Hogg, was appointed inaugural National Ambassador.
Brad attended field day events shared with GPA’s State Members throughout Australia, along with professional support provided by members of Rural Aid’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Team.
Last year’s program reinforced the importance of farmers staying connected with their friends, family and communities, with an impressive debut performance at well attended events.
This year Brad will tour the regions again, to continue sharing these important messages, while reminding farmers that it’s also vitally important to down tools and take a break from work.
GPA Chair and WA grain producer, Barry Large, said Brad’s messages on his ‘Take-a-Break’ tour are timely, given Australian grain producers produced a record crop of more than 67 million tonnes last year, valued at about $28 billion, following on from huge harvests the previous two seasons.
Mr Large said this peak grain production period also coincided with compound challenges from; the COVID-19 pandemic; flooding and storms during harvest; mouse plagues; and record high input costs – all while farmers are recovering from severe drought, in east coast farming communities.
“Australian farmers and rural communities are renowned for our resilience, but we also need to remember it’s vitally important to step back from work and take a proper break,” he said.
“This break is important for our mental health, and our general health and well-being. Whilst many farmers respond to challenges by working harder, this is not a sustainable approach.
“Ensuring you and your family take a holiday – and plan to take time proper away from the farm in future – is just as important to success as planting seeds for this year’s cropping program.”
Brad said treating yourself as an essential asset is vital to any farm business. He said taking a break and booking a future holiday was an investment in positive, healthy returns.
“Taking real time away from work on the farm, to recharge the batteries, is an opportunity to gain fresh objectivity and perspective, creating a clear head and thinking space,” he said.
“This is not like taking a short drinks break, or stopping for lunch or tea between sessions. This is about taking some real time off and stepping away properly, which opens the pathway to fresh thinking and new perspectives on how to solve problems and find solutions.
“You also return to work feeling re-energised, after a good spell away, with a new level of vitality and renewed attitude to problem-solving.”
Nufarm Australia Commercial General Manager, Peter O’Keeffe, said his company was proud to be supporting GPA’s initiative with Brad and the team, to improve mental health awareness and suicide prevention in rural areas.
“Having Brad as the ambassador of GPA’s Mate’s Mental Health program is a fantastic example of leadership that’s making a difference on this vitally important issue that impacts everyone,” he said.
“Brad’s honest story about his own personal struggles with mental health issues, and his farming background and upbringing, along with his witty and entertaining story-telling, is really helping break-down some of the stigmas surrounding mental health and suicide.
“We’re looking forward to growing this partnership and building on the successful start we made last year, for Australian farmers and other people in rural areas.”
GPA Chief Executive, Colin Bettles, said Brad had already spoken at a number of community events in early 2023, as part of his National Ambassador’s role and welcome other groups doing more.
“There’s a great opportunity for others to get involved and take action in this space. Brad’s not only a great speaker and ambassador for mental health, he cares about these issues and wants to talk and listen to what other people have to say about their own challenges,” he said.
Rural Aid’s Mental Health and Wellbeing team of professional counsellors are based in rural towns throughout Australia. They’re passionate about supporting farmers and their families and an integral part of GPA’s new mental health initiative and creating new opportunities for positive engagement.
Rural Aid CEO John Warlters said taking well-being services direct to farmers was at the heart of Rural Aid’s ethos and supporting the initiative was consistent with the work of its team of counsellors that lived and worked in rural communities.
“Rural Aid counsellors are trained mental health professionals but come with the genuine understanding of farming and the unique challenges and benefits of being on the land,” he said.
Get along to see and hear Brad Hogg's story at the Yorke Peninsula Field Days to be held on 26-28 September, 2023.