Inside TaskForce with Effie Gray
Stable Wellbeing Worker
When did you start work with TaskForce?
I’ve been in the role about three months and been out on track for about 5 weeks.
What does a stable wellbeing worker do?
I’m there as a support for people who need it. That could be for mental health issues, physical health issues. Literally anything, even just someone to turn to when they need a confidential conversation.
Being with TaskForce is great because TaskForce has a huge number of services and connections that I can turn to, but also I can reach out further and connect with any kind of services.
What kind of other support do you provide?
I’ve got a counselling background so I can also have counselling sessions with staff after work if they want to just talk to me.
A lot of it is just being there for when people need me, and sometimes it’s really for something small. Maybe they have just had a rubbish day at work.
Other times it can be bigger, with drug and alcohol issues or family and domestic violence issues, that kind of thing.
There are a lot of people (at the racecourses) so I can’t see everybody, I do refer people to other services as well.
Why did you become a counsellor?
I started as a track rider when I was 16, so my background is really in racing for a long time.
When Caulfield (racecourse) announced they were closing, my body wasn’t keeping up with riding anymore because it’s quite a high risk and energetic job.
So, I studied counselling and when I finished, I started studying equine assisted therapy as well.
That’s what led me to this job, combining all of it together.
And where did you study equine-assisted therapy?
At the Equine psychotherapy Institute in Mount Prospect, near Daylesford.
Tell us a bit about your background as a stable hand?
I did the job for about 13 years. I would start super early about 3am or 3.30 and ride the horses in the morning, up to 10 horses on a busy morning.
If it was raceday, I would take the horses to the races for the afternoon, or I’d have a lunch break for three or four hours and then go back in the afternoon to walk them, swim them, feed them, put them to bed, that kind of thing.
It’s a lifestyle rather than a job.
It sounds like horse racing people don’t have much time for normal life?
I get that and it’s because of the split shift as well. Because of the odd hours you find within racing that racing people hang out together.
Dinner is at like five o’clock and we’re all in bed. Then everybody’s back up at half-two or three in the morning. So, you do become a bit isolated, but you’re with your group of people who are also working the same hours as you.
It sounds very, very stressful.
It’s physically demanding, mentally demanding, demanding on your time and also it can put inordinate demands on your potential for a social or personal life.
What kind of issues do stable hands face?
The same as everybody else but multiplied a bit because of the pressures. Like every occupation, some people turn to drugs or alcohol.
What insight have you had since you left racing?
Working in counseling or community services, if I have any issues I can turn to the employee assistance program and they’ll help me work on that.
I feel like that’s what I’m there for. To be that person to turn to for help, whether it’s domestic violence or even bullying at work, that there’s someone there to talk to.