A therapeutic support charity has launched in Gunnedah with the vision of providing therapeutic services for all rural and regional people.
Around 70 guests attended the launch of The Gatepost Support Services in Barber Street, including president Peter Long, patron and National Farmers’ Federation president Fiona Simson, founder and therapist Sarah Ferguson, and board member Gen Gittoes.
After reflecting on the difficulty she experienced in her own adolescent years and the journey that brought her back to Gunnedah, Sarah Ferguson posed some questions to invite the beginning of a conversation about the impact of social and cultural pressures.
“We are living in a town that is full of every manifestation of lived experiences. We have wealth and poverty, privilege and oppression and everything in between. We are a microcosm of blended society and we are governed by established social controls of normalising judgments that have us invested in ideas of how we ought to live, look, behave and succeed and our identities depend on whether we measure up favourably to these notions,” she said.
“So what happens to those who do not feel like they are measuring up? How do we begin a conversation about the pressures that bears down on people, that have them feeling failed, ashamed, in despair, not measuring up, lost and silenced? How do we turn our eyes and thoughts towards the normative judgements that we are all involved in the creation of and begin to expose those judgements for the bullies they are?
“How do we do this so we can begin to understand the pressures that we, as rural people, often feel - to cope, be self-reliant, have all the answers, pull our socks up, just get on with it, just don’t think about it, keep ourselves busy… And then, if we can, how do we provide services that fit those self-reliant souls?”
Gatepost said eight people die by their own hand each week in Australia and the organisation wants to help keep people in the Gunnedah region out of those statistics.
Through The Gatepost Support Services, Ms Ferguson and Britt Hickey will deliver individual and group therapeutic sessions that are built around developing preferred narratives of life and telling stories that strengthen. Ms Ferguson also offers individual and group equine facilitated psychotherapy sessions.
Gatepost said Ms Ferguson and Ms Hickey were “committed to engaging folk in conversations that are centring them as the authority of their own lives and honouring of their knowledge of life”.