Farming family from Lexton win national photo competition highlighting men’s mental wellbeing

Victorian woman Rebecca McErvale has won the 2022 St John of God Raphael Services Healthy Men, Healthy Minds photo competition with her photo capturing a sweet moment between her daughter and husband a few days after a devastating bushfire swept through their property in 2019.

6 Jul 2022

2022 winning image dad with family  

Rebecca’s photo was chosen as the overall winner from a record number of 422 entries and will receive a DJI Mini SE drone for her winning entry. 

Raphael Services runs the national photo competition annually during Men’s Health Week to raise awareness of the one in 10 dads who experience perinatal anxiety and depression. Participants are asked to submit a photograph which captures a positive relationship between a child and a significant man in their life. 

Rebecca said her photo was taken during a particularly challenging time for the family, after a bushfire devastated their small regional community. 

“It was quite a serious fire. We lost 1000 acres of land, 27km of fencing and around 300 sheep in the fires. It was particularly devastating for my husband, Rodney who works so hard each day to provide for his girls and make sure they have everything they need. To have so much destroyed in an instant was very difficult,” Rebecca said. 

“This photo was taken a few days after the fires came through. The girls love to help Rod on the farm so I took them to help him mend fences that had been lost in the fire.”

Rebecca and Rod, fourth generation Merino wool growers and owners of local business Leroy Mac designs, said that while losing 95 per cent of their main farm to the bushfire was quite a blow, they’re thankful no lives were lost in the blaze. 

“It was the most traumatic time in our lives but this photo tells a story of hope. I love the way our daughter Isla is smiling at her dad with such joy. Even though much of the farm was taken by fire, I love that her expression shows she knows she’s safe with him,” Rebecca said. 

“Our eldest daughter Maddison is pictured in the background as well. Her favourite place is by her dad’s side. She adores her father and will often choose to be helping him on the farm over anywhere else. Both girls share such a special bond with their dad.”

St John of God Raphael Services Director Community Mental Health Services Anna-Marie Thompson said it is encouraging to see the competition continuing to grow, generating increasing awareness about men’s emotional health and wellbeing. 

“The Healthy Men, Healthy Minds competition helps to shine a light on the importance of men’s emotional health, particularly in relation to the connection they have with their child or a significant child in their lives,” said Anna.

“Awareness that men can experience postnatal depression is low, and 43% of first time fathers see anxiety and depression after having a baby as a sign of weakness. Raising awareness of some of the challenges men face is an important step in helping more dads and father figures seek support early on,” she said.

Special thanks to our panel of judges, including Ngala HIPPY Midland Coordinator Tonia Leonard, professional photographer Sean Middleton, St John of God Social Outreach Director Community Mental Health Services Anna-Marie Thompson and Manager Raphael Services Victoria West Janet Foggin.