Jil­la­roo a shin­ing ex­am­ple

The Northern Star - Northern New South Wales Rural Weekly - - NEWS -

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

sys­tem.

“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.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

BRIGHT SPARK: Jil­la­roo Zoe Hayes lost her mother to suicide in 2012 and found so­lace work­ing in ru­ral in­dus­tries on cat­tle sta­tions.

Guido & Robert Cer­chiaro Red Gem Grow­ers & Pack­ers, Gem­brook, Vic­to­ria

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