Scenic Rim locals reminded ‘don’t be blue, get help’

An old piece of farm equipment is generating discussions about mental health.

Fassifern Suicide Prevention Network, in partnership with Milbong and District Historical Tractor Club, has placed a bright blue tractor on busy Ipswich-Boonah Road at Milbong.

Garry Weber, Samantha Caves and Judy Summers with the blue tractor at Milbong
Garry Weber (Milbong & District Historical Tractor Club), Samantha Caves (Carinity Fassifern Community Centre) and Judy Summers (Fassifern Suicide Prevention Network) with the blue tractor which is generating discussions about mental health.

The display is a permanent visual reminder of the need for suicide awareness in rural communities such as the Scenic Rim and is designed to spark conversations about mental health.

The tractor concept was conceived by Ken Meldrum from Fassifern Suicide Prevention Network, which was established in 2021 with funding from Wesley Mission Lifeforce and support from Carinity Fassifern Community Centre.

“I wanted to do something that was going to be there long term to remind people that they need to take care of themselves and keep an eye on others,” Ken told Editor’s Desk.

“What’s appropriate for this rural area? I was working with the Milbong and District Tractor Club and I suggested to them and to other people that we get an old tractor and we paint it blue.

“We put it on display with a very simple sign saying, ‘Feeling blue? Get help’. It has a high impact: a quick easy read sign that reminds people they need to take care of themselves.”

Judy Summers and Garry Weber with members of Fassifern Suicide Prevention Network and Milbong and District Historical Tractor Club
Garry Weber and Judy Summers with members of Fassifern Suicide Prevention Network and Milbong & District Historical Tractor Club.

Ken noted the importance of supporting people who are suffering from depression or mental illness issues, particularly in rural communities where the prevalence of suicide is higher.

“The amount of people that take their life is higher than the road toll. We’ve got to do something about this. We need to change the conversation; we need to change the attitude,” he said.

“We need to get the message out to people and make them feel comfortable to talk about where they are in their life. What we’re doing is worthwhile and it has made a difference to a lot of people’s lives.”

Donated by local farmers Dave and Diane Weber, the 1950s-era Ferguson tractor was originally grey but was painted blue for the mental health awareness initiative. Plans are underway to install another blue tractor at Silverdale.

“It’s great to see this is creating interest in the community. Every little bit of awareness helps and if you can save one person that’s terrific,” said Milbong and District Classic Tractor Club President, Garry Weber.

“It’s surprising the amount of people who have commented to us already about this being here. I bought a tractor from the other side of Brisbane and the guy asked what the blue tractor was all about as he had driven past here and seen it.”

Meetings of the Fassifern Suicide Prevention Network are held on the third Thursday of the month at Carinity Fassifern Community Centre, Little High Street, Boonah.

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