Drought survival on the farm requires skill plus will


Riverina farmer John Harper will be a guest speaker on helping mates survive the drought.

Survival while farming during times of drought requires skill plus will, according to southern NSW farmer John Harper.

Mr Harper founded the men’s health program, Mate Helping Mate, and will be a guest speaker at Country Lifestyle on Thursday, September 20 at 12.25pm.

“Under the tough conditions when 100 per cent of NSW is drought declared or under drought watch, our family and mates are really struggling to cope,’’ Mr Harper said.

“How do we, as ordinary community members step up and make a difference?

“Success, and when times are extremely tough, survival requires skill plus will.

“Skill equates to the physical aspect of the challenge and will to the mental attitude required.

“As mates and ordinary members of the community, we don’t have the surplus feed or finances to help them in the physical aspects of the drought but we do have faith, hope and confidence that ultimately we can all survive.

“Proactive mateship, the sharing of our faith and hope in a brighter future, helps sustain resilience so each day we can rise to the challenges that life sets for each one of us.’’

John and wife Michelle run a mixed farm at Stockinbingal, with John proactive since 2006 in rural and remote communities raising awareness of good mental wellbeing.

He successfully dealt with his own depression and, after reflecting on his lived experience, John had the confidence to speak up and help others.

He successfully puts into laymen terms the fact sheets and information on mental health circulated by organisations and service providers, such as beyondblue and Black Dog Institute.

John uses visual aids, simple exercises and analogies from country life to raise awareness and to motivate people to help themselves, or others positively.

His vision is for all to be proactive socially in supporting and encouraging their mates to be resilient in the knowledge that all will have a better future regardless of the prevailing conditions.

“When the going gets tough, mates step up by simply reaching out,’’ John said.

“Supporting another with faith, hope and care gives energy to keep going – Australian history has shown us perseverance and resilience inspired and fed by mateship has always won the day.’’