Thanks to the Grapevine Group and Mackay Women’s Services, the region is set to launch a suicide prevention and domestic violence initiative “Heart to Heart Hairdressers” on October 8 with hopes to make a significant mark in the fight against both issues.

Free awareness training will be held specifically for hairdressers and barbers, selected because of their usually close relationships with their clients.

Grapevine Group president Laurence Manning said that Grapevine and Mackay Women’s Services could make significant steps within our community with this campaign to fight against both suicide and domestic violence.

“We are targeting hairdressers and barbers because of the close relationships they form with their clients,” Mr Manning said.

“It’s these relationships that will be key to this campaign.”

Mr Manning also paid tribute to campaign coordinator Debbie Knight who he credits with the campaign development.

Ms Knight is a passionate advocate for suicide prevention and domestic violence and developed a project in an area that could help both issues.

“From my own experience, I know that the relationship between a hairdresser and their client is usually more of a friendship, than a business transaction and I thought we could tap into that,” Ms Knight said.

The safeTALK suicide prevention and “How to Talk Chat about DV” training will be provided to hairdressers and barbers so they can understand the tell-tale signs to look out for and develop the confidence to talk about them with their client.

Their clients will also be provided with information on resources and services should they need it.
The Mackay Women’s Services has partnered with the Grapevine Group on this campaign and will play host to the training which will be held over four hours at the Mackay Women’s Centre.

Mackay Women’s Services Executive Director Dr Anne Butcher was proud to partner with Grapevine and get involved.

“When Grapevine called me explaining the campaign and what it was fighting, it was an obvious partnership,” she said.

“Three out of every four women are affected by domestic and family violence in our community and this is a wonderful initiative to reach out to women through the connections they have with their hairdressers.

“Studies have shown that women are 3.5 times more likely to consider suicide if they are in a domestically violent relationship.”

Statistics also indicate that while the rate of death by suicide is three out of four males, woman make more attempts.

The Heart to Heart Hairdressers campaign has been lauded and strongly supported by the likes of Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson and Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert who both understand the impact of suicide and domestic violence on individuals and families.

“I am extremely proud of the fact that Mackay is so proactive with suicide and domestic violence awareness especially as both issues can have devastating effects on our community”, Cr Greg Williamson said.

Mrs Gilbert said the campaign was all about Mackay people coming together to make a difference.

“When it comes to suicide prevention and domestic violence awareness, the Grapevine and Mackay Women’s Services teams are our community champions,” Mrs Gilbert said.

“The introduction of this life-changing initiative will help to ensure every conversation is heard. Our hairdressers are fantastic listeners and with this training package available, there is no doubt they could save lives.”

Training sessions have been scheduled for October, November and February.

The public can download flyers for salons, and hairdressers and barbers can book online at www.grapevinegroup.org.au