'Conversation starter' shirts flow through to saleyards, farms

TradeMutt is starting more mental health conversations on farms

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MATES WITH A MESSAGE: TradeMutt and TIACS founders Ed Ross (left) and Dan Allen are moving mental health conversations on-farm. Photo: Supplied.

MATES WITH A MESSAGE: TradeMutt and TIACS founders Ed Ross (left) and Dan Allen are moving mental health conversations on-farm. Photo: Supplied.

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Australia's loudest workwear brand is now spreading to more farms and agricultural companies.

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It began as a conversation starter in the trades about mental health, but now Australia's loudest workwear brand is starting more discussions in agriculture, being embraced by saleyards, charities, cattle companies and seed businesses.

The founders of TradeMutt, Brisbane former carpenters Dan Allen and Ed Ross, said they've seen a "massive" uptake of the clothing in regional communities.

"There's such a massive need for mental health support services in regional communities and we feel like we're contributing in providing that solution," Dan said.

"We've had individuals who will buy a shirt and wear it in their community and everyone gets onboard.

"I think pretty much every person in the Goondiwindi Region owns at least one TradeMutt shirt, so we owe Goondi a couple of beers."

Just recently, the boys signed on major saleyard operator AAMIG, whose facilities include Central Queensland Livestock Exchange.

"AAM Investment Group is not only decking their staff out with shirts, but they're also a top-tier alliance partner for TIACS for the next 12 months, so they're funding over 1400 hours of care, which is amazing," Ed said.

TIACS (This Is A Conversation Starter), which they kicked off in 2020, provides a free text, chat and call back service direct to mental health clinicians.

They also recently collaborated with Dolly's Dream, designing a kaleidoscope work shirt aimed at shining a light on the effects of bullying and the importance of being a mate, with proceeds of the sales going towards supporting Dolly's Dream and TIACS.

"As we know, mental health is such a multi-faceted conversation and can take many forms, so we don't want to keep it one dimensional," Dan said.

"We want to be able to come at this conversation from a range of different angles and speak to the variety of life that impacts people's health."

GOOD LOOK: The 2020 Dollys Dream x TradeMutt Kaleidoscope work shirt. Photo: Supplied.

GOOD LOOK: The 2020 Dollys Dream x TradeMutt Kaleidoscope work shirt. Photo: Supplied.

TradeMutt has also teamed up with major cattle operation Consolidated Pastoral Company, as well as seed and chemical company Corteva Agriscience Australia,

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CPC CEO Troy Setter said mental health was a key priority for all their staff.

"What better way to start that conversation than with a loud and vibrant workshirt and sharing Trademutt's story? Love the shirts or hate them, they're certainly a talking point," Mr Setter said.

CPC purchased shirts for the whole team - from the Brisbane head office to the cattle stations in Queensland, NT and WA.

"We even sent one to our new owner, Guy Hands, who thought it was a wonderful cause to highlight. I'm certain that his shirt will trigger many conversations in his London-based board rooms.

"Our teams are now encouraged to wear their shirts on the same day each week to raise awareness and continue conversations about mental health - and to remind people that they're not alone, ever.

"We hope that by wearing our shirts out and about, it'll promote important conversations, some laughs and perhaps encourage other businesses to invest in mental health awareness and jump on board the Trademutt train."

HI-VIS: Natalie Labuschewski and Grahame Ribers, Youngs Farm, Wooroolin. Photo: Brandon Long.

HI-VIS: Natalie Labuschewski and Grahame Ribers, Youngs Farm, Wooroolin. Photo: Brandon Long.

Corteva Agriscience communications leader ANZ Karen Deane said their journey with the clothing company started in 2019.

"Up until then, TradeMutt's workwear had mostly been taken up by the building, construction and mining industries, but we could see a lot of similarities in the rural communities where Corteva works with resellers and farmers," Ms Deane said.

Ms Deane said they had distributed more than 500 unique Corteva TradeMutt shirts to agricultural suppliers, staff and customers, and the impact the shirts had on Corteva staff and company culture could not be overstated.

"The shirts have created so much more awareness of the importance of reaching out, asking if someone is okay and starting conversations on a regular basis," she said.

"Beyond our own office walls, out on the road for our sales managers, it is amazing to hear how customers are opening up to a conversation based simply on the TradeMutt shirt.

"We're hearing how farmers are sharing worries of their own that we would never have known about otherwise.

"Mother nature has a huge impact on farming in positive and negative ways, which is particularly challenging, so as a company we feel humbled that this relationship with TradeMutt have allowed us to play a part in supporting our farmers in a new way."

After losing a close friend to suicide in 2016, Dan and Ed started TradeMutt in 2018 to encourage truckies, tradies and other blue collar workers to wear the clothes and have the chat.

Plenty of companies got behind the idea, including Hutchinson Builders, BHP and RioTinto - and for good reason, with construction and mining labour experiencing some of the highest levels of suicide in Australia.

But just behind that demographic is farm, forestry and garden workers, and with Ed having strong ties to the bush, coming in Longreach, the pair knew the social enterprise's growth was inevitable.

Ed and Dan's story is featuring on TV show My Way on Sunday, October 31 at 5.30pm in Queensland on Channel 9 and 9Now.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit TIACS or call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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