November 30, 2020
Mary O’Brien is a straight-talking ag consultant who knows a lot about spray drift and nozzles … but it’s her outreach to country blokes that is now turning heads.
A couple of years ago, Mary – who lives in Dalby – wrote a blog piece entitled “Are You Bogged Mate?” touching on men’s mental health issues, suicide and the need to seek help.
She didn’t mince her words: “The experts will tell you that it’s due to reasons like ‘the isolation’; ‘men don’t talk about emotions’; ‘they don’t know how to express their feelings’ … well, I call bullshit.
“I don’t have a psychology degree of any kind, I’m not a doctor of any type, I haven’t studied mental health at all but I do know country men … (they) are the toughest, hardest working, funniest, most sincere, totally dependable, thoroughly genuine people you will ever meet. So don’t sit in your university office in the city and tell me that you know rural men … country blokes aren’t going to join a men’s group or catch up with mates to discuss their feelings, relationships or finances over a double decaf latte at some hipster cafe that has kale on the menu. That’s not how they roll.”
The blog post went viral.
Mary told southburnett.com.au that within two weeks, 18,000 people had read her article.
She then started finding that at the end of her spray drift workshops, she was being asked to talk about “Are You Bogged Mate?”. She was even getting calls from Canada and the United States.
When she put a link on Twitter, “it went crazy”.
Mary was the guest speaker at Murgon Town Hall on Saturday night, the second in the South Burnett Regional Council’s series of free “Farmers Night Out” dinners happening around the region.
She urges men to “reach out to somebody, anybody, your partner, your mates or even me”.
She has links for professional help on her website, but is particularly keen to promote Virtual Psychologist, a free service where people in rural and remote communities can seek help by SMS, rather than by talking face-to-face.
Her efforts to help rural men have been recognised by Awards Australia where she was a finalist in the 2020 Australia Pacific LNG Community Hero Award.
Murgon’s dinner attracted a full house of 60 diners who feasted on a two-course meal prepared by The Saucy Fork from local produce.
The evening was compered by Larry Cann, who also provided musical entertainment on the night.
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The first dinner in the series, held at Proston Community Hall on Friday night, attracted about 70 people.
Upcoming events will be held on Thursday (December 3) at Blackbutt Memorial Hall and Friday (December 4) at Kingaroy Town Hall.
The aim of the dinners – funded through the Federal Government’s Drought Communities Program – is to assist with community wellbeing and raise awareness about supports available for drought recovery.
For further information, contact Council’s Local Disaster Recovery Officer on (07) 4189-9536 or by email