An event forging connections through haircuts came to the city on Monday as part of an initiative preparing community members for the resumption of school.
A 'Back-to-School' event aimed at helping those living in disadvantaged communities prepare for the upcoming school year was held at Dave Taylor Park, with members from the Department of Communities and Justice providing school supplies along with 'Walkabout Barber' Brian Dowd, who provided free haircuts along with a trauma and recovery workshop.
Mr Dowd, who is a trauma specialist by trade, said the idea behind the mobile barber van was to provide a safe and secure space for people to open up and discuss their mental health with someone with knowledge and experience.
"It's about opening that space where people feel comfortable - because people do want to help themselves but they don't get given the right tools to do that and we're trying to provide those missing tools," Mr Dowd said.
"The barber's chair is a magical chair, so people who sit in that chair they let their guard down and tend to open up a little bit and when they open up they tend to share their deepest pain and sometimes the hurt that's hurting them the most.
"If we can do that successfully, people are being heard and if people are being heard then they can actually go out and seek help if they get to that point and feel comfortable around it."
Mr Dowd said his workshop draws on his own experiences as a young man and aims to give those the tools and methods needed to help not only those who attend the workshop, but the wider community as well.
"I've walked this journey myself," Mr Dowd said.
"I was bankrupt at a young age and tried to take my life at a young age and came out the other end and turned my life around.
"Now it's about providing an opportunity for other people to save themselves and when we come out and do our trauma and recovery workshop, we leave tips and we give people transferable tools to not only to look at themselves and change their own journey, but change those people around them."
Project officer at the Department of Communities and Justice Sherryn Hill said similar events had seen success when bringing initiatives out to local communities rather than making them travel and reduce access.
"There are hairdressers and so forth in Griffith but often if you can bring it to the community, the community will come," Ms Hill said.
"We'd heard some really good feedback about Brian plus he's an Aboriginal man and a lot of communities we work in with Place Plan are predominantly Aboriginal communities."
Also in attendance were members from Revenue NSW and the Griffith Aboriginal Medical Service to help provide advice and information about services on offer.
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