Tim Hayes with his grader he painted black to highlight mental health issues and raise money for Black Dog institute.
Tim Hayes with his grader he painted black to highlight mental health issues and raise money for Black Dog institute.

Black grader on new highway to help Black Dog

A shiny black grader working on the Woolgoolga to Ballina upgrade of the Pacific Highway is helping to kick-start important conversations around mental health among the team ahead of R U OK? Day.

The grader's 30-year-old owner and operator, Tim Hayes, purchased the machine for his business earlier this year.

Having recently lost a friend to suicide, Mr Hayes painted the grader black to raise awareness and funds for the Black Dog Institute - a not-for-profit focused on promoting wellbeing by understanding, preventing and treating mental illness.

He donates one dollar to the organisation for every hour he works on the grader.

Mr Hayes said the cause is close to his heart, having worked in the construction and mining industry for more than 15 years.

"Depression is extremely prevalent in the construction industry and I've had work mates commit suicide on jobs I was working on in the past,” Mr Hayes said.

"There have been times in my own career where I've struggled with my mental health and was fortunate enough to receive help and support from the Black Dog Institute at the time.”

Transport for NSW Director Northern Anna Andrews said the story was a timely reminder ahead of R U OK? Day to promote dialogue around mental health for anyone who might be struggling.

"The black grader has been capturing the attention of workers, community members and motorists for a while now, so it's nice to be able to share Tim's touching story,” Ms Andrews said.

"It's a great conversation starter for an important topic and Tim should be incredibly proud of the awareness and money raised so far.”

"The Woolgoolga to Ballina project team will be supporting R U OK? Day on Thursday, but the discussion around mental health and wellbeing remains a key area of focus for us all year round.”

For more information about R U OK? Day, go to https://www.ruok.org.au.



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