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Hill’s have your back

Wednesday, 15th January, 2020

Racheal and Bodie Hill are the new champions for the RFDS and Lifeline’s ‘We’ve Got Your Back’ peer support mental health program. PICTURE: Myles Burt Racheal and Bodie Hill are the new champions for the RFDS and Lifeline’s ‘We’ve Got Your Back’ peer support mental health program. PICTURE: Myles Burt

By Myles Burt

Far West graziers Bodie and Rachel Hill have been announced as the new champions for the ‘We’ve Got Your Back’ program. 

The peer support mental health program is a partnership between the Royal Flying Doctor Service and Lifeline Broken Hill Country to Coast, with funding provided by the NSW Ministry of Health. 

Launched in April last year, it identifies local graziers with lived mental health experience and provides them with training and support to help others who are also suffering. 

The Hills live on Waka Station, a sheep and cattle station north-west of Tibooburra, with their two sons. 

The couple have been posting videos on Facebook over the last 12 months about their experience with mental health and sharing tips to help others battling with mental health in the drought. 

Bodie and Rachel said they’re excited to use their new tools from the program to help others break through the stigma of addressing mental health.

“I think what I love about it is that it’s making mental health just as important as physical health, and it’s creating this normality around your feelings,” Rachel said.

“Making sure that you’re checking in with people about their mental health and allowing people to talk about their mental health, just as much as they do their physical health.”

Bodie said people needed to open up more about what they’re feeling.

“Especially in the rural community there’s a big sort of, ‘you’ve got to be silent, you’ve got to be strong, you know don’t talk about your emotions,’” he said.

Bodie said it was too easy to avoid seeking help because taking that first step of admitting there was a problem and booking an appointment was daunting. 

He and Rachel’s role is bridging the gap through genuine, honest and confidential conversations. 

Rachel said that being appointed “champions” was just a way of making themselves better known in the Far West where people are familiar with their own struggle with mental health.

“It’s made people feel like they can connect with us easier,” she said.

“I like the little bridge it’s put there. It’s been able to make people who would sometimes feel uncomfortable feel more comfortable with accessing help.”

With drought continuing into the New Year graziers and townspeople are under huge financial, physical and emotional pressure. 

But Bodie said even when the drought breaks, the cracks in people’s mental wellbeing won’t necessarily be filled.

“Even say it came in tomorrow and rained and the drought was over, people still have problems, they still need these outlets to talk,” he said.

Rachel said: “It’ll be viable now and even in the future to be able to keep that connection and keep people talking about their emotions.

“It’s such a broad thing, I don’t feel like it’s just for the farmers.”

The couple said they felt honoured to have been approached by the RFDS and Lifeline to become a part of ‘We’ve Got Your Back’ program, especially they had grown up admiring the Flying Doctor and the work they do.

“It’s pretty humbling to feel like we can be a part of that, it’s pretty cool,” said Rachel.

Bodie and Rachel now join fellow ‘We’ve Got Your Back’ champions Brendan Cullen and Richard Wilson in the Far West.

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