Emma with horse

2022 Queensland Hero set to start horse-based program

Date published

24 Apr 2023

After being named the 2022 RFDS Queensland Hero, Emma Jackson will soon start up her Horse Wisdom Program with the support of the Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland Section) (RFDS).

Emma won the 2022 RFDS Queensland Hero Award after saving the life of her friend on her remote cattle station and championing vital mental health initiatives in the Archer River region of Cape York.  

With a $20,000 grant courtesy of Ergon Energy Retail to be put towards a health or wellbeing initiative in the community, Emma is excited to commence the first session of her newly designed, equine-assisted learning program in June 2023.  

The program will be delivered at Emma’s property, Wolverton Station, in the Archer River region of Cape York, with the support of the RFDS Far North Mental Health and Wellbeing team.  

Emma is looking forward to continuing to build on the success she has had with previous programs facilitated with horses and cattle, while offering a broader program through the Horse Wisdom Program.   

“As I am not a clinician, it means that I have had to work within a certain scope with children and adults in the past,” Emma said.   

“Working with the RFDS and designing a broader holistic program with the support and expertise of a mental health clinician who works across the Cape York Peninsula complements the outcomes beautifully.  

“An RFDS mental health clinician will attend each session, and we have been working together on the design and content for the program.   

“Having a clinician who understands this region integrated across the program means people can take away and learn more, while being better supported should they need it.”  

Emma said the reason behind delivering the program on her property was due to the benefits that have been seen during previous sessions, with people enjoying both the animals and an outdoor environment.  

“We will deliver the program out at my home on Wolverton Station, which is central Cape York Peninsula,” she said.   

“Connecting to nature, the outdoors and participating in the program away from home, family and other commitments and pressures is important.  

“Horses bring warmth, love, compassion and understanding to a relationship which will help with regulation, calming and releasing tension and self-limiting thoughts and beliefs for our participants.   

“An indescribable magic comes from horses when working with people and it's possible to feel that magic and reconnect with who you truly are and be fully present.”  

The program is open to those over 18 and aims to explore people’s feelings and thoughts while providing them an understanding as to how these link to different behaviours.   

Emma with horse

Participants will then work with Emma and RFDS staff to come up with strategies on how to manage and accept those behaviours.   

“As the program is delivered over two days, participants will be able to feel a real connection to themselves, the bush and each other,” she said.   

“Activities and conversations take place on the ground, so no horse riding takes place.   

“People will learn breathing and grounding are tools that can help them while also gaining an understanding of how to self-regulate.  

“We will look at relationships, boundaries, communication, and mindfulness over the two days, however, the discussion of these topics will be structured and personalised to the group's needs and desires. 

“There will be a strong focus on delving into the areas that interest them most.” 

The rollout of the program will commence in June and run until October 2023.  

“June will see the first program, and then one each month until October,” she said.   

“We will evaluate each one and hope that it gains some momentum.   

“As the programs will be delivered mid-week, we will remain conscious of that factor in its attraction to people and reflect on its success at the end.”  

Emma said she is excited to see where this program can go while helping make a difference in the lives of those living in remote Far North Queensland.  

“It is quite an experiment to have the opportunity to design and deliver a holistic emotional wellbeing program on a cattle property with the support of an RFDS mental health clinician,” she said.

“It’s wonderful to be able to embark on this program with the help of the grant from Ergon Energy Retail.

“As a result, it is very exciting to be able to help people by providing take-home tools and strategies that they are then able to apply in all aspects of their life.

“These two days could really help people to have more control over feelings, be more aware of limiting thoughts and see how these affect their choices and behaviours.”

Ergon Energy Retail is a proud partner of the RFDS Local Hero Awards.

You can find out more about the RFDS Local Hero Awards by emailing localhero@rfdsqld.com.au.