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Dusty air and barking dogs

Date: April 16, 2018
Author: Dianne Gill, RAMHP Coordinator

As the sun slowly rises in the sky over the sale yards trucks come and go. Off-loading sheep into the pens, farmers give directions to their dogs to move the sheep forward. The odd sheep tries to go against the flow of their flock but the dogs are persistent and move them forward into the direction they are meant to go.

Under the gum trees just outside the yards is a team of dedicated community health staff. For extra protection against the glaring sun they have set up a pop up shade cover. They sit and chat with farmers, drivers and stock agents. Conversations vary from what has been happening on the farm to recent local events, how the family is or is not coping. Jim says “the missus keeps having a go at me about eating too much”. On the table next to him another man with a wrinkled brow states that he really needs a good price for his sheep today. While the conversations continue nurses are taking blood pressures and giving information about diet and exercise along with skin care and many other issues.

Suddenly a nurse looks up her eyes are wide and staring at me – the look on her face indicates to me she has heard something that is worrying her and this is her subtle sign to me to come over. She is without a word calling for help. This is my role, this is why I am here, I am a rural mental health worker and sometimes my special expertise is needed. I am introduced to John. He has been going through some bad times lately and just does not know where to go for help. We sit and talk for what seems such a long time; during this time issues of finance and relationships keep coming up in the conversation. I look at his hands they are big, strong and covered with callouses, when I look into his eyes they are blue like the sky but more of faded blue; they are asking for help, just a sign of hope.

The conversation continues about what he has already done and other avenues he never thought to investigate. Slowly he lifts his shoulders and sits up straighter. He feels better about seeking help and moving forward. John stands up with his copy of the Glovebox Guide firmly held in his strong hand. He calls Skip his blue heeler, the dog is quick to fall in step beside him. He strides towards the yard to check out how the auctions are going his sheep must be coming up soon. 

2 responses to “Dusty air and barking dogs”

  1. Trevor says:

    What a beautiful writer you are Di. Thanks for giving us such a great illustration of your day-to-day encounters.

  2. Susannah Forrest says:

    Wow, that is so eloquent, and the body language you spoke of is so succinct, when someone starts to feel hope, their body posture becomes a little taller, thanks for the hard work you do, clearly you are an amazing communicator Di, a skill that is so needed in the farming communities, well done..

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