23 May 2023

What's with the blue tree near Hindmarsh Drive?

| James Coleman
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Blue trees

Painting a tree near Hindmarsh Drive blue for the Blue Tree Project. Photo: ACT Health.

Drive along Hindmarsh Drive in Lyons and you’d be forgiven for thinking you had entered a Dr Suess book.

A large dead tree along the arterial road in Canberra’s south was painted a vibrant blue this week as part of the ‘Blue Tree Project’.

Founded in Western Australia in 2019, the project has become a national initiative to ease conversations around mental health. The blue trees symbolise “standing strong” and “being able to branch out to someone you trust”.

This year, the ACT Government agreed to join in and create the city’s second blue tree – the other is at the University of Canberra (UC) in Bruce.

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On 22 May, ACT General Mental Health coordinator Dr Elizabeth Moore and Minister for Mental Health Emma Davidson helped paint the tree, located on Hindmarsh Drive next to the off-ramp from the Tuggeranong Parkway.

Ms Davidson said it was particularly important, given the past three years.

“We know the past three years of the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted, and continues to impact, the mental health of the Canberra community,” she said.

“By painting a tree blue, we’re giving Canberrans a visual reminder to have those difficult conversations about mental health, to reach out when they’re experiencing mental health concerns, and to access the supports which are available.”

Blue trees

The blue tree is a reminder to have those difficult conversations about mental health. Photo: ACT Health.

The government assures this particular tree is “not living” and does “not contain significant habitat elements”. An ecological survey of the trees in the area made certain no birds or other wild animals were using it for nesting. The paint itself is non-toxic, too.

“By spreading the blue paint, we’re spreading the message that help and support are available when Canberrans are experiencing a mental health challenge,” Ms Davidson said.

“Accessing early intervention mental health support can help people before they reach a crisis point and allows them to continue to stay engaged and connected with their community.”

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Blue Tree Project CEO Kendall Whyte described the tree as “an exciting step … as we push into the east coast”.

“There are just under 1000 trees painted as part of the project, and many of them are now popping up on the east coast,” she said.

“It’s terrific to see our growing symbols spreading the importance of mental health … We hope the prominent location of the tree helps start many conversations around individuals’ wellbeing.”

More ACT trees will be painted blue in the coming years.

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Tina Trickey3:42 pm 29 May 23

You know you’re killing the tree with suffocation

@Tina Trickey
“A large dead tree along the arterial road in Canberra’s south was painted a vibrant blue …” Any other questions, Tina?

Having worked providing residential 24/7 care with people having enduring mental health issues I think there are better ways of spending time and finances to help those with mental health issues. Instead of “photo opps” spend some time with the people who have, and work with, these needs. There are holes between the NDIS and ACT’s over-worked, under-funded mental health systems. The Adult mental health unit is full, turning away patients and existing those without adequate forward care. ACT Housing has a two year waiting list for “Urgent” needs. The homeless in the ACT have many many people with mental health issues. STOP PAINTING TREES BLUE, AND DO SOMETHING THAT MATTERS!!!

@Steve Cox
Perhaps check out what the NFP (https://www.bluetreeproject.com.au) is doing to raise awareness on mental health issues before you shoot the messenger, Steve.

Capital Retro8:48 am 28 May 23


Because the dead tree can’t be recycled now or used for firewood, it will end up in landfill.

Typical Green stunt.

@Capital Retro
Green stunt? Did you actually bother to read the article or are you just having a rant for the sake of squawking?
It’s a very worthy initiative to highlight support for mental health issues.

Sharon Bennett6:06 pm 28 May 23

I hope none of your friends and family suffer from mental health issues. Your ignorance is astounding.

Capital Retro8:56 am 29 May 23

I don’t really care what you think JS.

Capital Retro4:25 pm 29 May 23

I’ve had my share of mental problems and I don’t recall being prescribed a lot of smiling people with paintbrushes and blue paint.

@Capital Retro
So, I’m not the only one to call you out on your comment, CR. It would appear Sharon does not see your ignorance as bliss.

No denying it’s a good cause but painting trees?? I find that ridiculous! Maybe donate the rest of the paint to a mental health support group for art therapy sessions…

The fact that you have commented, noname, shows that the Blue Tree Project’s method of drawing attention to support for mental health issues, for the cost of a can of paint, is working.

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