Maria Parente and her husband, Shaun Beasley, have been farming for over 35 years in the Bairnsdale area. Maria is also a psychologist and knows better than most that farming is not always an easy vocation.
During her 16 years practising in Bairnsdale and its surrounds, Maria has seen it all.
“I’ve counselled a few farmers in that time,” she says quietly.
“I’ve seen firsthand, particularly through drought, how challenging it can be on the land.
“The vagaries of the weather or a change in commodity prices can really affect farmers.
“You have to develop a certain amount of resilience.
A few years ago Maria knew a local farmer who subsequently suicided after a relationship breakdown and financial difficulties.
“I was devastated to learn he had taken his life,” she said.
Sadly, each day in Australia seven people take their lives and many are farmers.
“Men, especially farmers, don’t communicate as well a women, but they need to know there is support out there,” Maria said.
Maria is part of the national steering group that has formed Ripple Effect – a partnership between leading rural advocacy, academic and health organisations to prevent farmer suicides.
With funding from beyondblue, The Ripple Effect steering group will soon launch an online platform where farmers can feel comfortable to share their experience of suicide – whether this is about thoughts of suicide, caring for someone who has attempted suicide or lost someone through suicide.