Vet students go starkers for Rural Aid

Vet students go starkers for Rural Aid

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Veterinary science students from Murdoch University has taken their kit off in the name of charity. Photos by Emily Upton.

Veterinary science students from Murdoch University has taken their kit off in the name of charity. Photos by Emily Upton.

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Veterinary science students from Murdoch University have stripped down to the nude to be photographed for a calendar to raise funds for Rural Aid.

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WHAT better reason is there to take your clothes off than for charity?

Veterinary science students from Murdoch University have stripped down to the nude to be photographed for a calendar to raise funds for Rural Aid.

It's an annual tradition that the students have carried for about 15 years.

Each year, second year students step up to organise the calendar and their chosen charity then follows that year group through with other fundraising activities until they graduate.

Murdoch's class of 2024 graduation committee president is Beth Gallagher, who is also a dairy farmer from Kalgan, near Busselton.

"Taking our kit off not only sells a lot of calendars, it also serves to foster positive relationships within the school of veterinary medicine," Ms Gallagher said.

"Suicide is an enormous issue within the profession - learning to bring down walls, communicate and grow support networks is essential to our longevity as veterinarians."

Australian research has found that veterinarians have a four times or higher risk of suicide compared to the general population and pose a greater risk than other health care professions such as doctors, pharmacists, dentists and nurses.

The Australian Veterinary Association said that in everyday terms, most veterinarians knew a colleague or knew of a fellow veterinarian who had taken their own life.

"Choosing Rural Aid, for us as future clinicians, was recognition of our commitment to stand by our farmers, especially in the face of adversity, changing climates and lows of agricultural commodity prices," Ms Gallagher said.

"We are enthusiastic to grow the pool of large animal and mixed practice veterinarians within WA and wish to foster positive relationships within the livestock industries into the future."

This year is Ms Gallagher's first time taking part in the calendar and she was keen to step up and lead the committee in organising the calendar.

"Last year I was a bit shy, but I had just had a baby so wasn't feeling up to it, but a lot of people do participate from the first year and onwards," she said.

Ms Gallagher said last year's calendar was heavily impacted by COVID and only raised about a third of what is usually raised.

"Last year I don't think it was done justice, so I wanted to get on board to really put it out there to see how big we could potentially take it," she said.

"Normally we raise about $3000-$4000, whereas last year we only managed to raise about $1000.

"So this year we are hoping to and it's looking like we will raise about $5000, which is really exciting.

"I wanted to bring the student community back together as a whole, because after COVID the school felt really flat and because the degree is so tough, to get through it we all have to band together and the calendar is such a perfect opportunity for us to all bond and have different years mingling, so I wanted to see that community spirit come back."

The calendar has been an ongoing tradition organised by the students for about 15 years.

The calendar has been an ongoing tradition organised by the students for about 15 years.

The committee has also had requests from buyers overseas.

The majority of the funds will go towards Rural Aid and some, along with a little from other fundraising efforts, will go towards the students' graduation dinner so it is entirely paid for by the student body.

Shooting took place about a month ago on the university's vet farm by photographer Emily Upton.

Although the photo shoot was in the middle of winter and heavy rain was a high possibility, the sunshine held out for the whole eight hours.

"The farm manager Kim Thomas said that it was the 15th calendar that he had been part of and it had never rained, so there's got to be some good karma behind it," Ms Gallagher said.

This year, about 50 students took part in being featured and there were also people on the committee who wanted to be involved but not photographed.

About 75 per cent of the people featured were women and 25pc men, which Ms Gallagher said reflected the cohort.

"I was really empowered by the experience," she said.

"Women have all different bodies and there was a real feeling of body acceptance.

"The way that people stripped off their clothes and within 10 minutes, everyone was comfortable and walking around, with their bits flopping around and not a care in the world.

"It was interesting to see that every woman there had a different body shape, whereas most of us are used to seeing the same body shape on things like social media and in mainstream media.

"The biggest challenge was trying to get the cow to stand exactly where we wanted her to stand, while using low stress handling techniques."

Ms Gallagher said that support for this year's calendar has been strong, with sponsors including the Blue Tree Project, The Cheeky Cow, Swans Veterinary Clinic, Eco Wise Energy, Blundstone, Houndstooth, The Edge Equine, Dr Woof and Marini Ferlazzo.

"They all helped make the calendar happen," she said.

Blue Tree Project founder Kendall Whyte said it was important for the organisation to support rural communities through both its activities and other external initiatives, such as the calendar.

"We think quirky conversation starters are the best kind and the calendar certainly does that," Ms Whyte said.

"We also know that the rates of suicide in vets are horrific and hope to help spread the importance of mental wellbeing within the Murdoch graduates."

  • Presale calendars can be secured now for an early bird price via Facebook at 'Unscrubbed2022'. They will officially go on sale at the end of this month.
  • Shipping is throughout Australia.
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