Jillaroo a shining example
THEY don’t come much braver than 23-year-old jillaroo Zoe Hayes.
After losing her mother to suicide when she was just 17, the young Perth woman battled depression to become a confident stock woman and rural entrepreneur who shares her story to help others cope with the debilitating mental illness.
“Mental health is not spoken about enough,” Zoe says.
“It is not made acceptable to have a conversation about it.
“I have been very open about my mum’s death and that I had a suicide attempt in 2016.
“By me reaching out and talking, I have had hundreds of messages flooding in with people saying they are struggling.”
Beating depression has not been easy, Zoe says.
The turning point for her was when she left Perth to follow a long-held dream of working in agriculture.
“Working in the rural industry is what opened my eyes to the fact that there are people out there who can be your family,” Zoe says.
“They are not blood related. But they have given me a closer network and support
“I cope by surrounding myself with people who encourage me.
“People who are loving and kind and have the same values.”
Those people include the Curley family, who run Gypsy Plains Brahmans near Cloncurry in Queensland, and most recently the family and stock crew of Mount Clere Station at Meekatharra, in Western Australia, where Zoe is currently working as a jillaroo.
With her life on track, Zoe wants to help others through similar circumstances by sharing the coping strategies she still uses when depression resurfaces.
“It’s been five years for me and there are still moments when it feels like I am reliving everything all over again,” she says.
This year she shared a much-read five-point coping plan online and to the Rural Weekly: find something to be grateful for, always work towards a dream, surround yourself with happy people, find balance between work and pleasure, and find something about yourself that you love.
Zoe incorporates her messages into the small jewellery and bandana business she runs in her spare time, recently designing “dust off depression” fishing shirts that sell online.
She donates 10 per cent of sales to a charity that raises awareness of suicide rates in farming communities.
For overcoming personal tragedy to become a strong rural woman who is elevating the discussion about mental health, Zoe Hayes is an inspirational winner of the Shine Award for Courage.
Toni Barton, a sheep farmer and lamb bacon inventor, was the 2018 Shine Awards Winner.
The 39-year-old farmer from Nulla Vale has conquered milestones that some might struggle to achieve in a lifetime.
Starting with 16 lambs five years ago, she singlehandedly built a flock of 250 Australian white sheep and simultaneously set up a direct-to-consumer fresh meat business which is thriving at farmers markets.
If you or someone you know needs support, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.
BRIGHT SPARK: Jillaroo Zoe Hayes lost her mother to suicide in 2012 and found solace working in rural industries on cattle stations.