A fund raising cattle drive through the Riverina will be launched at this year’s Henty Machinery Field Days.
Called Droving the Blues Away, the cattle drive will raise money for respected mental health community-based organisation, Riverina Blue Bell.
The drive will be officially launched at Henty on Wednesday, September 21 at The Stump at 11.15am by Riverina Bluebell and Riverina Local Land Services.
Participants will follow a 260km travelling stock route to Lockhart, Narrandera and Ganmain, culminating in a charity auction at the Wagga Livestock Marketing Centre on October 24.
Along the way, there will be community events at Lockhart, Narrandera and Ganmain.
The cattle have been donated by local beef producers.
Riverina Local Land Services board member Barney Hyams encouraged producers, agents and buyers to bid on the cattle at the charity auction.
“I am proud of Riverina Local Land Services role in supporting our rural communities,’’ Mr Hyams said.
“I encourage those who are interested in purchasing cattle during the auction to play their part in droving away the blues.’’
HMFD chairman Ross Edwards said the HMFD Co-operative selected a charity each year to support at the field days.
“This year we chose mental health awareness, which is particularly relevant in the light of the crisis impacting the dairy industry, and Riverina Blue Bell was our charity of choice,’’ Mr Edwards said.
“Coincidentally, Riverina Blue Bell had made the decision to hold the fundraising cattle drive starting from Henty.
“We were happy to raise awareness and show our support with a venue to launch the event.
“We are fortunate to have Matthew Johnstone, creative director of the Black Dog Institute, as our guest speaker at the official HMFD luncheon.
“Matthew has spoken all over the world on dealing with mental health and depression, including the World Health Organisation in Geneva, and Google in New York.’’
Mr Johnstone has published eight books, many of which have been best sellers both here and abroad.
The titles include “I Had a Black Dog’’, “Living with a Black Dog’’, “Alphabet of the Heart’’, “Quiet the Mind’’ and “The Big Little Book of Resilience’’.
Riverina Blue Bell was founded by Wagga farmer Chris Wilson after a 15-year struggle with depression.
Droving the Blues Away co-ordinator Mark Leary said it was important to start conversations about mental health in the community group, school or workplace by sharing stories.
“Our goal is to raise awareness about the avenues of support for mental health available to Riverina locals and build an understanding that asking for help is OK,’’ Ms Bell said.
If you are suffering from depression or anxiety, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.