GETTING a very important message out to the community was the inspiration behind the Black Dog Ride, a charity organisation that raises awareness of depression and suicide prevention, taking over a TransForce trailer for the next two years.
The TransForce truck, which will be carrying general freight between Cobar, Dubbo and Sydney, will act as a mobile billboard for the Black Dog Ride, which has raised more than $1.8 million for mental health services since it began in 2009.
With recent figures showing suicide is the leading cause of death in Australia for men aged under 44 and woman under 34, Local Black Dog Ride co-ordinator Steve Gower is adamant raising awareness is critical in the fight against mental health illnesses.
"It is such an important message as mental health issues are so prolific across society, especially in smaller towns," he said.
"We need to get people talking about depression and their issues. The Black Dog Ride is all about raising awareness of depression and having this truck will help get the conversations going."
Dubbo MP Troy Grant was on hand on Monday to meet with the people who made this partnership possible, and spoke of the seriousness of the issue.
"Depression is at an unacceptable level, it is far too high," the Deputy Premier said.
"We need to get that down and having a big rig travelling so many kilometres will help raise awareness from people.
"This will help support and assist what is already out there and help get people past the stigma that was once there.
"There has been significant improvement to the stigma around it but we still have a lot more to do.
"I've spoken openly about my experiences after being a police officer for 22 years, at the beginning of my career you didn't talk about what was affecting you as you'd be criticised about not being able to cope.
"But that has improved a lot in recent years across all workplaces.
"This is an extremely worthy cause and I'd like to say a big thank you to TransForce and everyone involved in making this happen."
Several hundred riders are expected to take part in the Black Dog Ride to the Red Centre, which departs from all states and territories on Saturday, August 15, arriving at Uluru on Friday, August 21.
The NSW itinerary of the ride will see participants start out from Bathurst on Saturday morning, travelling to Mudgee and arriving in Dubbo about midday, where they will spend the night before travelling to Cobar on Sunday.
Mr Gower said there was not a definite goal in mind in regards to money raising.
"There will be around 130 riders in Dubbo on Saturday, and they will go onto Cobar where they will meet other riders from around Australia," he said.
"We don't have a set figure we are after, we just want to raise as much money as possible."
For more information visit www.blackdogride.com.au.