Peak Hill hosts the Walkabout Barber during 2021 Youth Week festivities

LOOKING SHARP: Ace Bell gives Brian Dowd and the Walkabout Barber service a big thumbs up! Photo: Torin Hando.

LOOKING SHARP: Ace Bell gives Brian Dowd and the Walkabout Barber service a big thumbs up! Photo: Torin Hando.

LAST Wednesday, April 7, a Youth Week event was held in Peak Hill for the youth and other community members; with free haircuts doled out by Walkabout Barber Enterprises.

Youth Week is an great opportunity for young people to and create and enjoy activities, express their views and act on issues that affect their lives.

This event was delivered by Neighbourhood Central, Parkes Shire Council and the Peak Hill Aboriginal Medical service with the support of a NSW Youth Week Grant.

Walkabout Barber Enterprises was conceived by Brian Dowd, a 'people mechanic' who hails from Coonabarabran, north of Dubbo, and is a mobile barber shop that operates out of a particularly eye-catching bus.

In 2000, Dowd was an aspiring NRL player. After trialling for the Newcastle Knights and missing out on a spot he turned to drugs and alcohol and attempted to take his own life.

IMPORTANT SERVICE: Rebecca Cohen, Christine Peckham, Torin Hando and Amanda Corcoran with Brian Dowd and his barbers.

IMPORTANT SERVICE: Rebecca Cohen, Christine Peckham, Torin Hando and Amanda Corcoran with Brian Dowd and his barbers.

He then spent the next three years doing what he describes as saving his own life, by undergoing a range of rehabilitation programs and workshops including completing a Post Graduate Degree in Indigenous Trauma and Recovery at the University of Wollongong, meaning he is fully trained in trauma counselling - hence the 'people mechanic' moniker.

Brian soon realised that many were in need of his skills, both as a barber and trauma specialist.

So out of that, he opened up a barber salon before becoming mobile - and that's how Walkabout Barber Enterprises was born.

Walkabout Barber has since visited more than 35 communities and provided more than 2,100 free haircuts.

Dowd was even the recipient of a Deadly Award for the best National Aboriginal Employment program in 2011.

DEADLY CUT: How awesome is this design!

DEADLY CUT: How awesome is this design!

In Peak Hill they provided free 60 fresh cuts and up to 90 people from the community turned up throughout the day to meet with Dowd.

He also delivered a mental health workshop, which was very well received.

The Walkabout Barber has been a crucial service during the COVID-19 pandemic, particular in the Newcastle region and surrounds; which left their clients not just with a fresh cut but feeling fresh on the inside.

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