Lauren Harper (seen at right with Secretary George Austin) works to promote RAW, which seeks to understand and improve the mental health of rural people, especially of farmers and farming families.
Lauren explained that RAW is 60% government funded and also receives a good deal of corporate sponsorship.
The RAW field staff prefer to ‘walk alongside’ rural people (not confront or arrive from behind); they find this approach is most effective in drawing out the inner thoughts of people who – by nature – tend to be reserved (‘toughing it out’). Mostly having rural backgrounds themselves, the field staff understand what it is like to live in that environment. They also undertake a series of training modules prior to being assigned to a rural area of Tasmania.
Lauren said anyone can make a referral to RAW, if they are worried about someone: “We also accept self-referrals. To speak with us directly, call 1800 RAW TAS (i.e., 1800 729 827) – it is manned 24/7 365 days a year. In recent months, over 50% of calls have been self-referrals, which percentage is quite encouraging. Being prepared to ask for help is half-way to being healed.”