CFA firefighters from Alberton West have dropped the fire hose and picked up the brushes to paint a local tree ‘Billie Jean’ blue for mental health.
The initiative is part of the Blue Tree Project, which aims to raise awareness around mental wellbeing and help reduce the stigma; reminding people that it’s OK to be not OK.
Brigade members came together on Friday, 22 October to cover the tree with the striking blue paint at John Crew Reserve, Alberton along South Gippsland Highway.
Alberton West firefighter and local project organiser Ian Venables said it was a blue tree that caught his eye on a recent family trip, that led to his discovery of the Blue Tree Project.
“I took the idea to the brigade and everyone got behind the project, so once we identified a suitable local tree to paint, we got the process started,” he said.
“Mental health and wellbeing is important to me and many others in our brigade and community, and we want this tree to be a reminder to everyone that it’s OK to not be OK.
“Our brigade is well connected, and we are always prepared to support each other. We want people to connect with those around them and have those conversations.”
With support from local businesses like Peddles Plumbing Service and Cooper’s Mitre 10, as well as approval from Parks Victoria and DELWP, the project was made possible.
Three brigade members and a licensed machinery operator helped paint the tree on Friday, but Ian said the contribution of all brigade members was significant in planning the initiative.
“Mental health is everyone’s business and while we’re promoting this right across our community, I have a particular interest in promoting these conversations among men,” Ian said.
“It’s important for us to work together as a community to stamp out the stigma surrounding men’s mental health.
“Our brigade is doing a great job of that and we want to extend that to the broader community.”
Ian encouraged other CFA brigades and community groups cross the state to get involved in the Blue Tree Project. There are currently 687 registered blue trees across Australia and around the world.
Those who wish to learn more about the Blue Tree Project can visit www.bluetreeproject.com.au.
||CFA News & Media