Driving into the central NSW town of Cobar one is struck by two things. Firstly the lack of water, sitting on the edge of desert Cobar Shire is incredibly dry – the water for the mines is pumped all the way from orange and dry red earth shows everywhere. Secondly the trees. Lining the road they form an oddly rhythmical look with their perfectly trimmed leaves and branches. One could be excused for thinking that an enthusiastic topiarist had been trimming the vegetation, but these neat lines are in fact the work of wild goats, whose farming also forms the backbone of Cobar’s agricultural industry.
The town itself is a step back in time – many of the town buildings retain their beautiful 19th façade the central shops separated by a wide road so distinctive of Australian country towns. But as with much of Australia Cobar is isolated on the plains of central NSW and with its small population built around the mining – copper, lead, silver, zinc and gold – and pastoral industries there is limited access to healthcare. Which is why Cobar Community Health’s family fun Day was so important, as the first ever event in Cobar to promote Prenatal Depression and Anxiety Awareness (PNDA).
The event targeted Indigenous, mining and culturally and linguistically disadvantaged families in Cobar and aimed to inform families within the community that regardless of this small size and isolation, there are many resources available when trying to seek and access mental health assistance.
Postnatal depression effects one in seven women following childbirth in Australia and yet is often under-recognised or acknowledged. Events like this are important both for raising awareness and helping to lift the stigma associated with PNDA.
Cobar Child and Family Health nurse Alanna Millar organised and ran the event. She said “I came up with the idea of holding the Family Fun Day as Cobar is a rural and remote mining town, which in itself impacts the mental health and well-being of communities.”
“I see many mothers and fathers in my job as a Child and Family Health Nurse, suffering in silence due to the stigma associated with mental health, thinking they are the only ones suffering and not knowing where to seek help from,” said Ms Millar.
As well as including a free BBQ, goody bags, pampering session, giveaways and kid’s activities such as face painting, a jumping castle and various craft activities. The event played host to four guest speakers. Ms Millar discussed her goals for the event itself, whilst a clinical psychiatrist was invited to speak about what PDNA is and how to identify and address any issues, and two parents, Rebecca and Shelley, shared their personal experiences of perinatal depression and anxiety.
“The most popular aspect was definitely Rebecca and Shelly” said Ms Millar. She believes that the two volunteer’s stories contributed greatly to the success of the event. “[They were] amazing and inspirational… I had many parents comment to me after on how these women had helped them identify that they are struggling and that help is available.”
There was general support for making the Family Fun Day a yearly event – “most parents [also] liked that we held it in a stadium, where they could watch their children on the jumping castle, dancing whilst they enjoyed looking at the stalls and enjoying some ‘me time’ with the massages and manicures.”
WayAhead granted Cobar Community Health $1000 to support this event as part of our small grants program during PNDA week. The group also received donations from PEAK Gold Mine and Endeavour Mine.
For further information about mental health, or if you need support for any mental health issues you may be experiencing, visit www.wayahead.org.au, or contact:
- WayAhead Mental Health and Anxiety Information Service 1300 794 991
- PANDA National Help Line 1300 726 306
- The Mental Health Line 1800 011 511
- Mensline Australia 1300 789 978
- Lifeline 13 11 14
- beyondblue 1300 224 636