18 July 2023, AU: Tatyoon farmer and Elders client Leila McDougall is addressing inadequacies in mental health support for people in rural and regional areas, through the release of a feature film.
Feature film Just a Farmer, which is currently in post-production, follows the story of a farming family and community who are rocked by the loss of a treasured local hero.
Writer, producer and actress Leila hopes that the film will highlight the issue of mental health in rural Australia and encourage people to seek help. Leila explained that she felt compelled to tell the story after watching suicide rates in rural communities grow.
“A farmer dies by suicide every 10 days, and people in rural populations are twice as likely to die by suicide,” she said.
“The farming life is deeply fulfilling and rewarding but it can often present unpredictable challenges such as financial hardship, weather changes and accidents.
“The film clearly illustrates the sort of consequences of these challenges in communities that lack adequate essential medical services.
“It is hoped that the film will highlight this issue of mental health in rural Australia and encourage people to seek help.”
Just a Farmer brings together some of Australia’s finest actors, including Robert Taylor, Susan Prior, Damian Walshe-Howling, Joel Jackson, Trevor Jamison, Louise Siversen and Eddie Baroo.
The film is set almost entirely on Leila and husband Sean’s property Rosevale Ridge, just out of Tatyoon in western Victoria. Leila explained that shooting the film in a rural area came with its own unique challenges.
“It definitely was not easy to shoot in rural Victoria, we faced plenty of hurdles which productions in cities would not face,” she said.
“We were concerned that if country people feel that the film does not properly reflect the industry, that they will disconnect from the film and the message will be lost.
“That is why it was extremely important to us to film on our property so that the film is authentic and reflects farming in a realistic light.”
Leila and Sean are the sixth generation to farm Rosevale Ridge, and the family have been Elders clients for over 40 years.
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