Graphic: Pimpara Lake Station
It’s very near impossible to engage in a conversation at the moment that somehow doesn’t turn to drought. When someone asks, “How ya’ going?” the chat inevitably comes back to the impact of this prolonged dry spell. It covers not just how one is actually feeling, but also offers an opportunity to swap stories about the effort you’re making to save livestock, to save crops, to save the family farm.
In this 90th year since the foundation of the RFDS I am so proud to think that our health teams are out there asking that question, “how ya going?”.
They’re out there working with people affected by the drought and offering support to so many and in so many ways. These support services are vital to our communities and, as resources become available, they will be extended across our network.
The drought is very close to me and to two other members of our Board, Joan Treweeke and Sanchia Treloar. Joan’s family lives near Angledool where they are experiencing a sixth consecutive dry year. Sanchia lives on a property in the north east of South Australia where, in addition to coping with drought, she and her family are contending with a wild dog invasion and significant stock losses.
My family and I live on a property north of Broken Hill. Our last rain of consequence was in October 2016. Like many others in the same situation, we have had to deal with issues around the untimely selling of livestock, hand feeding and finding alternate pastures for our core breeding sheep and cattle.
Most days are tough going. Some days there is joy in the small successes that we have, some days it’s impossible not to succumb to that profound sense of loss and grief that routinely simmers beneath the surface of our being.
It’s the wind that I dread most, tearing at the soil, destroying remnant perennial grass butts, filling the air with dust and near despair.
There is relief in knowing that this is a shared experience and I so hope that there is comfort for those going through the same experiences in being able to talk with a family member, neighbour or an RFDS team member. We all need to survive this and to learn from it - and we will.
Some sage once said: ‘It always rains at the end of a drought.’ While the comment may be met with an understandable eye-rolling response, we all know that it is true. I say, ‘Bring it on!’ It just can’t come soon enough.
I’d like to take this opportunity to send a heartfelt thank you to our supporters. It’s due to your loyal and generous support that the RFDS is able to help farmers struggling with these challenging climatic circumstances beyond their control. Our mental health teams provide counselling services to people in rural and remote locations, alongside our nurses and doctors taking healthcare to the further corners of the land.
RFDS SE President