FARMONLINE | Brad Hogg to spearhead new rural mental health initiative


Grain Producers Australia has unveiled a new national partnership aimed at boosting mental health awareness and suicide prevention among Australian farmers and rural communities.


The Farmer Mates Mental Health initiative was announced this week and will feature former Australian left arm spinner Brad Hogg as the face of the program.


Mr Hogg has strong rural roots, he was born at Narrogin and grew up on a farming property at Williams in south-western WA.


He has strong involvement in the mental health space as the ambassador for Lifeline WA and has advocated for better mental health services in rural and regional areas, sharing his own personal experiences around the issue.


GPA chairman Barry Large said the concept behind the Farmer Mates program was allow messages like Mr Hogg's to reach a larger audience.


"The initiative will allow his work and messages to be expanded, to reach more farmers and regional communities throughout the nation," Mr Large said.


A number of charities, government agencies and agribusinesses are getting in behind the GPA push, with the initiative being backed by a strong team featuring Lifeline, Rural Aid and Nufarm.


This support will help Mr Hogg attend a series of forums hosted by GPA with some of their state farming members, at farm field days held throughout Australia this year.


Mr Large said he was motivated to take positive action and establish the new program in response to suicides felt by farmers and other members of his local community in WA last year.


"One of the main messages we want to share with other farmers is the importance of mates talking to mates and doing what we can to look out for each other and make a difference," he said.


"We're excited to have Brad as the ambassador of GPA's Mate's Mental Health program, knowing how he can speak honestly and openly about his personal struggles with mental health issues, with other people who can easily relate to his country upbringing."


Mr Hogg said he was passionate about rural mental health.


"Growing up in a farming community and having many friends and family still involved in agriculture, I'm proud to be working with GPA on this initiative, to share these important messages," he said.


"This is a great way to help others recognise the signs they need to look out for with friends or family who might be struggling, and encourage them to reach out for help when needed.


"We want people to know that they're never alone, and that help is always a phone call away if they need it. It's all about starting conversations that will make a positive change and help save lives."