Program ‘Cutting Through’ mental health issues for Tassie industry

Rural Alive and Well Inc. (RAW) Tasmania is assisting Tasmanians in the timber sector to better understand the importance of looking after our mental health and wellbeing, this year launching its ‘Cutting Through’ program to compliment its comprehensive toolbox of initiatives.

Officially registered in 2009, RAW was established following the assembly of a committee in 2007 that consisted of community representatives who came together to explore issues around suicide and to look at ways to educate the broader community on suicide prevention, with the aim to help farmers and rural community members impacted by drought.

“The impact mental health challenges have on a business can change the trajectory towards either success or failure,” RAW CEO, Barb Walters said.

“It can greatly affect the workplace but also spread to the home and into the community as well, which is why RAW aims to help workplaces become a community of resilient, supportive and prepared people.”

Ms Walters said she’s particularly proud of RAW’s industry programs, which are tailored with specialised support and activities, as well as people who really understand the nuances of the sector.

“Our new Cutting Through program is designed to provide support for employers and employees in the timber industry by offering real conversations aimed at reducing the barriers to help and breaking down stigma around mental health and wellbeing, providing referral pathways, one-on-one support, employer support and accreditation programs,” Ms Walters said.

Cutting Through coordinator, Dave Milne—who himself boasts 30 years’ experience working in the industry—said mental health and wellbeing is one of the greatest challenges faced by the industry.

David Milne

“This issue really does affect workers in the Tassie timber industry, and their families. It also has a major impact on workplace success and safety,” he said.

Mr Milne has built a career in the timber industry as a saw doctor over three decades and believes his experience navigating and working through major industry downturns has provided him real and tangible insight into what people in the sector must deal with.

“I have always had a passion for the timber industry and supporting my peers, because I understand firsthand how critical managing mental health and wellbeing is,” he said.

Hailing from northeast Tasmania, Dave Milne, who was taught that mateship and community is the greatest resource we have for building mental health and resilience, discovered a passion for the industry while working at French’s Sawmill at Scottsdale after leaving school. He now owns and operates his own business, Cutting & Wear Solutions.

To find out more about the Cutting Through program, or other services offered by RAW, click here.