Band Together Farmers Parkes festival to raise awareness, funds

The central west community plus some of Australia’s legendary rockers will band together for farmers this month to help raise much needed awareness and funds for rural mental health.

The Band Together Farmers festival at Parkes is being held on November 17 at the Parkes Showground.

Funds will go to the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health (CRRMH), which is based in Orange, NSW and plays a key role in supporting rural communities during the drought.

Event director Darren Jones said farmers are stoic, but that it’s okay for people to put their hand up and say they’re not okay.

“They don’t want to be seen to fail. Because if the farm fails they take it personally because the first thing they think is that they’ve failed as a father or provider,” he said.

“It’s not something that a bloke likes to deal with or talk about or admit because we’re very proud… it’s about trying to break that barrier down a little bit and say ‘it’s okay, if you need a hand throw your hand up’.”

The festival is being headlined by the Hoodoo Gurus and Mark Seymour from the Hunters and Collectors.

It will also see performances from 1927, ARC Supergroup with members of Powderfinger, Spiderbait and Jet, plus Jacobs Run, Brewn and Montgomery Church.

Mr Jones said buses will be available across the central west, including Forbes, Orange, Eugowra, Cowra, Canowindra, Bathurst, Dubbo and Condobolin.

He said they wanted to make the buses affordable for everyone to come along.

“We’ve made it possible for everyone to get to the event and not have to worry about driving or parking… it was important to give that option,” Mr Jones said.

One of the reasons why the town of Parkes was chosen to host the event was its central location, Mr Jones said.

“It’s not an effort for one side of the central west to get to the other. It’s right in the middle.”

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Mr Jones said the event was about bringing the entire central west, NSW region together.

“It’s really under the central west banner that we’re doing this and we want everyone to come together for one reason,” he said.

That reason was to raise awareness and funds of rural mental health.

The ex-police officer is no stranger to fundraiser concerts. He organised one in Tathra after the community was devastated by bushfires earlier this year.

“I’ve seen mental health and the effects of suicide and what they have on families and small communities…,” Mr Jones said.

“It (the concert) is all about the long-term effects of these droughts and the long-term effects of mental health.”

I’ve seen mental health and the effects of suicide and what they have on families and small communities.

Darren Jones, event director

Destination NSW and NSW Country and Outback put Mr Jones in touch with the CRRMH.

The Centre and its staff, located across rural NSW, are committed to improving the mental health, well-being and resilience of rural and remote people and understanding and responding to rural suicide.

“We’ve got to stop farmers from thinking that that (suicide) is the option they need to take. It’s the devastation they leave behind and those communities,” he said. 

Mr Jones hopes farmers are able to take the opportunity and attend the concert in Parkes.

“Everybody can come and have a great day and forget about the farm for a little bit and their problems,” he said.

“It’s about making sure everyone knows about it so they’ve got the option to come on the day.”

Mr Jones said preparations have been busy, but were going good.

“It’s a big thing for the area and it’s probably one of the biggest concerts the central west will see,” he said.

“We’re expecting a big crowd.. we can put six or seven thousand there (at the showground).

“We’ll see how many we get. The more we get obviously the more money we raise for the Centre.”

While there isn’t a set figure as to how much they plan to raise, Mr Jones said every bit will help the Centre.

“Whether you raise $5 or $5 million it’s something and it goes towards the right causes… it’s important that these guys at the Centre are funded and they keep going and doing what they’re doing,” he said.

All buses will take patrons to and from the festival and Mr Jones encourages people to pre-purchase their bust ticket with their concert ticket.

“That gives us a good idea if we’re going to need to put a second bus on from whatever destination because we don’t want people turning up... and not being able to get a seat,” he said.

Special guests and local artists will also feature during the afternoon.

Gates open at 1pm, with performances to commence at 1:30pm.

The RAAF Roulettes will hit the skies with an aerial performance during the afternoon.

This will be a family friendly event with various events to be held to keep the kids entertained.

Please check the website at www.bandtogetherfarmers.org for all information.