Blue tree a 'visual beacon' to inspire crucial conversations
WHILE driving through the South Burnett as the drought continues its hold on the region, a sea of brown rushes by.
But standing out against the horizon of sepia-toned paddocks is a lone, blue tree.
South Burnett residents may find themselves questioning how on earth that came to be.
Staff from the Kingaroy TAFE campus are responsible for the colourful tree. They took on the big job of painting it to raise awareness about mental health as part of the Blue Tree Project.
Debbie Jackson, TAFE Queensland faculty director of Infrastructure and Primary Industries said she hoped the blue tree would help someone reach out about their mental health.
"TAFE Queensland Kingaroy campus staff participated in the Blue Tree Project as part of Mental Health Awareness Week," she said.
"Our blue tree on the Kingaroy Campus Farm adjacent to the Bunya Highway on the edge of Kingaroy is a visual beacon to let residents of rural communities know it's OK not to be OK," she said.
"Check in on your friends and family members and help break down the stigma of mental illness.
"The TAFE Queensland Kingaroy staff are part of the South Burnett community, which like so many others, has been touched by the tragedy of suicide and we hope our blue tree will help someone to reach out when they most need it."
The aim of the Blue Tree Project was to encourage people to start the difficult conversations and open up if they were suffering from depression and/or anxiety.
The project was originally inspired by a story told at Jayden Whyte's funeral.
The late Jason Whyte painted a tree blue one night on his family farm in Mukinbudin after sneaking out, wondering just how long it would be before anyone noticed the deep blue tree on the horizon.
The tree was painted out of love, mischief, and friendship.
Unfortunately Jason's loved ones weren't aware of the extent of his mental health issues and did not have the opportunity to support him in a time that proved to be critical.
Jason's story inspired the Kingaroy TAFE team.
South Burnett Hire and Sales donated the use of their elevated work platform, and Sean Trelour donated the use of his paint sprayer to help achieve the feat.