Role all about forming connections on the farm

At the coal-face . . . Jocelyn Kinney has recently taken on the role as Southern Otago regional co›ordinator for the Rural Support Trust. PHOTO: SUPPLIED


Jocelyn Kinney laughs that while being a pragmatic straight shooter, she still harnesses a strong compassionate streak.

‘‘I farm alongside my husband every day; all partners out there will know one has to have a certain amount of patience, tolerance and empathy in order to do that successfully.’’

She has recently taken on the Southern Otago co›ordinator role for the Otago Rural Support Trust.

‘‘I saw the job advertisement in the paper and felt I had a set of skills that would work well for a job like this. I have always liked what the trust has stood for; that it’s farmers helping farmers at a grassroots level.’’

She farms sheep and beef with her husband David on a mostly dryland hill country property near Hyde. The couple have three children and she has had a strong involvement in governance at their children’s schools, having just finished as a board member on the Otago Boys’ High School board of trustees.

While still involved on the Otago Boys’ Hostel Parent Committee and at St Hilda’s Collegiate School, Mrs Kinney, or Joc, as she prefers to be called, has enjoyed her time in governance and learnt a lot about managing challenges.

Prior to having her children, she worked as an occupational therapist throughout Central Otago.

‘‘I worked with a lot of farmers, and retired farmers. So I knew Icould talk easily with them; working out ways to improve their quality of life.’’

Farming actively alongside her husband, she is intouch with the daily realities of farming and the toll it takes, ‘‘constantly dealing with the weather, and all the new regulations, always problem› solving and what it feels like when you don’t take abreak off› farm to connect with others’’.

‘‘People say, ‘Ah justbook a winter getaway’, but that’s just not possible for some people.’’

The Rural Support Trust covers many areas of farming adversity, from financial pressure, employment problems and succession issues to adverse weather events and mental wellness issues.

‘‘Everyone is battling their own collection of challenges, and for some it can just become overwhelming. Mental wellbeing and taking care of yourself is never a quick fix — it takes time and understanding.

‘‘I think rural people are slowly beginning to open up a little bit more and show their vulnerable side. It’s when you show your vulnerable side that people will give it back, when you can have that real chat, and that’s when things start to improve.

‘‘Connection with others in any form is so important, so it’s about finding ways that can happen for people on aregular basis.’’

The trust was always working on events that would offer those kinds of opportunities, she said.

‘‘Dairy NZ and the Rural Support Trust are hosting mid› calving ‘Breakfast on Us’ events coming up in afew locations around mid›September. A good chance for farmers and farm workers to drop in and have a yarn.’’

Keeping ‘‘an ear the ground’’, she hoped to make a difference in her region.

‘‘Quite often people won’t put their hand up for help, it’s more about mebeing in tune with what’s happening at the coal› face and having a good network around me who can let me know when our input might be required.

‘‘Quite often my job is to just talk through the issue and assess what help that person or family might need and connect them with the experts that can make a real difference.’’

› Everyone is battling their own collection of challenges, and for some it can just become overwhelming; mental wellbeing and taking care of yourself is never a quick fix — it takes time and understanding. ›