A fresh haircut and a fresh conversation
OPENING the conversation about trauma can be a difficult step. The Walkabout Barber came to visit Goondir on Tuesday, November 26 to help start a conversation with local indigenous men around mental health while also providing them with fresh new haircuts.
Owner and founder of Walkabout Barber Brian Dowd is a trauma specialist by trade, who decided to link his postgraduate degree in trauma recovery to his barber business.
“We realised that there’s a lot of communities out there that aren’t able to get the quality haircut that we can provide, some of them haven’t even got a barber shop,” Mr Dowd said.
“So we said ‘let’s build something to cater to our community’s needs’ and we built the barber trailer to be able to go out and do remote community engagement programs and give our communities out there just a fresh haircut and a fresh conversation as well.”
Mr Dowd spoke about life experience and things he had been through in life.
“That real life stuff is the stuff that actually gets into people’s spirits, their heart and their heads more than sometimes if I walked in and said look ‘I’m a degree qualified trauma specialist to talk to you about such and such’.
“Sometimes people don’t connect to that, especially a lot of our mob. Our mob, they share their journey through stories.”
Mr Dowd started his endeavour after seeing a need in his own family.
“I got into the barbering industry because my little boy was diagnosed with autism at two, he’s non-verbal and, you know, there was a lot of meltdowns happening, there was a lot of red flags,” Mr Dowd said.
“And one of the red flags was we tried to get him a haircut and the sensory issues didn’t allow for it.”
After getting the diagnosis his son was on the autism spectrum, Mr Dowd said he and his wife readjusted everything they were doing.
“I went and bought a set of clippers and, you know, I had to try to, we’ve had to hold him and try to do some cuts and it was a painful process,” he said.
“I said to my wife ‘I don’t want it to be this way, I don’t want to have to put my son through this, we’ve got to introduce him to getting a haircut by us and having his around that environment’.
“She said, ‘well what do you want to do?’ and I said ‘we’ll, open a barber shop’.”
If you or someone you know is experiencing mental health issues, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14.