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Community & Business

7 October, 2023

Station program working wonders

AS you wind your way off the Peninsula Developmental Road towards Wolverton Station homestead there’s a surprise awaiting.

By Chelsea Ashmeade

Emma Jackson of Wolverton Station has a combined 30 years of wisdom across health, education and greater community work and two decades in agriculture, ideal for designing a the unique program to help the youth, which has morphed into a separate adults program.
Emma Jackson of Wolverton Station has a combined 30 years of wisdom across health, education and greater community work and two decades in agriculture, ideal for designing a the unique program to help the youth, which has morphed into a separate adults program.

Upon the final hill you’ll be greeted by a magical hideaway to the west and some dusty horse and cattle yards, walking trails and a secluded waterhole to the right. 

It’s where Emma Jackson, with the support of her family, has created a place for youth and adults to visit to support their wellbeing journey.

With a degree in psychology and teaching, Ms Jackson brought her background and experience together through further studies as an Equine Assisted Learning practitioner, beginning in communities about five years ago, noticing there was an increase in emotional and social issues among the youth (and adults). 

Integrating her thirty years of wisdom across health, education and greater community work and two decades in agriculture, she designed a unique program to help the youth, which has morphed into a separate adults program, too.

It was, at first, an experiment with small groups of teenagers and small families, but Ms Jackson noticed the strong and beneficial impact being away from everyday normal routine and community life had on their self-perception, attitude and levels of contentedness. 

“I noticed when they came out here, they thrived,” Ms Jackson said. 

“They were happy.”

She mainly worked with youth from Western Cape College and the PCYC in Napranum, among many. 

The youngsters work with horses and cattle, learn about cattle station operations and animal handling and with the horses, Ms Jackson facilitates an Equine Horse Wisdom program, where children are fully present with the horses and engage in activities through challenges and scenarios.

“The core of a lot of the work we do is the horse. We specifically use the horse for adults,” Ms Jackson said.

“We work with the adults on what they do and bring to relationships and communication. With the children, it’s similar but they get to witness how amazingly kind and special they are. Around the horses they ooze kindness, compassion, sincerity and patience.”

Helping people to see their strengths, habits and how their thoughts impact their behaviours building their self-esteem and clarifying their self-perception means they begin to believe in themselves in a way they have never believed before.  That is what it’s all about for Ms Jackson. 

About nine years ago, Ms Jackson lost her nephew to suicide. 

“I have always wanted to help people see and understand how amazing they are but I recognised the critical mental health component when I lost my own nephew in 2014.”

Ms Jackson believed there was six suicides alone in Coen last year. The annual overall statistics drives her to continue to offer and develop her program to the youth and adults as a strategy or prevention.

“We talk about the stresses of life before it gets too late…school doesn’t teach you a ‘toolkit’ to equip you for life.”

The program has helped a number of youth to believe in themselves, see that life has considerably more to offer and that it’s ok to break down barriers and be the person they want to be. 

“I get absolute fulfilment seeing the youngsters having the space and safety to be fully themselves. They have to roll with their instinct and feelings to be safe. They have to listen and trust themselves, learning how to be gentle, kind and compassionate because of the new environment they are in,” Ms Jackson said. 

The program has been well received in communities and has created lifelong friendships.

“You are not just here for a program, you are here for a relationship with me. I have got your back.”

And, with no phone signal Ms Jackson said there were no distractions – you had to “just get on with it”. 

It doesn’t just end there though, Ms Jackson started the popular Conquer The Corrugations event held for the first time in 2015. 

It’s a walk that covers 42 kilometres over two days north of Coen.  Ms Jackson said some of the participants who she has worked with have taken part, as well as many from across the country. 

“It becomes a really interwoven community.”

“(the walk) It’s tough, really, really tough,” Ms Jackson said. 

The walk attracts CEOs and managers who take it upon themselves to make change within their companies to help the mental health of their employees.

This year’s Conquer the Corrugations walk will be held on this October Long Weekend, 30 September and 1 October – if you’re on the PDR, be sure to say g’day and watch for walkers. 

Confessing she doesn’t sit still for long, Ms Jackson said she is constantly driven by the people she helps. 

“I am people-driven. I truly care about how others feel. We get so caught up in looking forwards or looking backwards, let’s just stop and see what’s going on right now.” 

While it might seem as if life is isolated on a station, Ms Jackson said it was far from that. 

“You have got so much around you in town and that changes when remote. It’s fabulous living a way of life that is so connected to the land and animals. We live a good life, we are here to create a better tomorrow and strengthen the change where it needs to be.” 

For more information about Conquer the Corrugations, visit the Facebook page or website www.conquerthecorrugations,com.au

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