Mental health is improving in South Australia thanks to an initiative in the Coorong, celebrating sunflowers.
The Coorong Conversations Matter Committee has been distributing thousands of free seed packets throughout the region and surrounds for the past four years, to give people a sunny cheerful garden-filler and a conversation-starter.
Pauline Linke of Meningie (pictured), has been leading the charge following 30 years working in mental health.
Pauline became involved with the Suicide Prevention Network (SPN) part of Coorong Conversations Matter Inc. in 2017. The network is a voluntary community group working to improve mental health and wellbeing, and helps to reduce the stigma associated with suicide, while increasing community understanding about resources and support.
“Remembering my improvised Sunflower story, I suggested that the group consider a Sunflower planting program across the Coorong District Council Area,” she said.
“The group thought it was a great idea and off we went.”
“Everyone loves Sunflowers, they are reminiscent of our childhood, they’re cheerful and they really put on a beautiful show – with so many people participating, they also start conversations, which is part of the reason for multiple plantings.”
Pauline said she is deeply heartened with the generosity of local communities and their continued enthusiasm for the project, which has resulted in Sunflowers on display at differing stages throughout Spring and Summer.
“With the demand for the packets growing, we are forever thankful to all who have, and continue to donate Sunflower seeds,” Pauline said.
The group hopes that their Sunflower Project creates conversations within the community – helping people to connect, prevent and respond to suicide. The Sunflower project is just one of many opportunities for the community, to help prevent suicide, care for each other, and promote wellbeing.
Genuine Support Services Australia has launched their support for the program on the Rural City of Murray Bridge’s International Day of People with Disability celebration this month with a Sunflower themed Fresh Perspective Photography photobooth on offer, providing a variety of accessible activities along with a light lunch.
“With the support of Genuine Support Services Australia, we welcome all communities throughout the state to jump on board and use this uplifting program,” Pauline said.
Hear Pauline Linke talking about the initiative with ARN’s Adam Connelly and Jennie Lenman, via the audio play window below:
If you would like more details about joining the program, phone Pauline Linke on 0409 617 501.
For help in a crisis, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Kid’s Help Line on 1800 55 1800.