Few can resist opening up to their hairdresser as they relax in the chair. That's the aim of an initiative that couples grooming with mental health, and it was all happening at Armajun Aboriginal Health Service in Tenterfield on Tuesday.
Walkabout Barber is the brainchild of Newcastle-based Brian Dowd, with the creed We cut hair anywhere. Mr Dowd and his team of cutters -- and their customised Walkabout Barber truck -- were part of a health roadshow the service was hosting, including dental and hearing checks.
The truck had visited Inverell, Tingah and Armidale communities earlier in the year. On this tour it stopped in at Ashford before Tenterfield, continuing on to Glen Innes the next day.
"Our main objective is to make people fresh on the outside, and to come out fresher on the inside," Mr Dowd said.
"The barber's chair is a magical experience especially for men. I've built the business as a healing space, for men and women to have a chat."
The operation can do upwards of 60 cuts a day, so that's a far reach. Mr Dowd said his barbers can also provide the styles and patterns that clients may find difficult to access in city areas.
He said that Armajun is an amazing partner to have on this journey, which is turning out to be a huge success.
It's also providing employment for barbers to do a job they enjoy. Some of the crew come from Dubbo and Moree and just the previous day Mr Dowd had recruited someone from Ashford.
He's going to need a lot more. A fixed Walkabout Barber location is about to open in Newcastle, and more trucks are on the way. One will be Walkabout Beautiful offering pedicures and manicures, and another one is heading to Western Australia.
One constant, however, will be the Walkabout moniker.
"The name sticks with our culture's way of moving around," Mr Dowd said.
He hopes the Walkabout truck will be a regular visitor to Tenterfield, in conjunction with Armajun. He feels positive repetition will be helpful, providing a safe place to not only receive a trim but also to have a talk especially about matters that people are finding difficult to discuss with family.
"I have to thank Armajun for the opportunity to let us do what we do," he said.
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