Queensland Rural Woman of the Year Alison Fairleigh is using her award to shine the spotlight on a dark place.

Story By Gretel Sneath

Grab the thickest, heaviest, grey woollen blanket you can find. Soak it in steaming hot water, and completely cover yourself with it while lying in bed. Then, try to climb out and go about your normal day with that suffocating weight hanging over you. Queensland’s Rural Woman of the Year, Alison Fairleigh, says this is what depression feels like. She knows, because she has worn this cloak of misery.
“You have no light, because no light is able to shine in,” she says. “You can also hardly breathe, yet you have to try to continue functioning and navigate your way through the darkness.”
Ayr-based Alison is trying to improve that navigation process using a bursary she received from the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation as part of her Rural Women’s Award announced in March. Her chief aim is to forge better pathways for farmers and fishers to access frontline health and mental-health services, and it’s no coincidence that the work parallels her own healing journey.

This story excerpt is from Issue #91

Outback Magazine: Oct/Nov 2013