Frontier Services Acting National Director just returned from a trip out through Narrabri in Northern NSW, and he witnessed first-hand the need for mending from the flooding in Narrabri and surrounding areas.
Rob shares what he saw and the people he met, because it shows just how much of a difference the kindness of Frontier Services supporters makes to people in the bush.
He visited our Bush Chaplain Noel Williams along with the people Frontier Services helps – people like Anna and David. More on them in a little while.
Rob wanted to be our supporters eyes and ears on the ground. To talk and listen to find out more about what people and communities really need, right now, in the aftermath of the devastating floods.
Here’s what he had to say:
“The thing that struck me the most is seeing a palpable need for mending.
“People in the bush need our support to mend – to mend their properties, certainly, and their storm-battered homes.
“But above all to mend their spirits, their emotional wellbeing, and even their physical care, all of which fell by the wayside in the crisis.”
“The people out there have been through the wringer. They battled through years of crippling drought. Then the bushfires tore through everything. Then came the floods – again and again. Add a global pandemic and a looming economic crisis, and you can imagine they all feel… well… weathered.
“They’re tough. They cope. Somehow they make it through. But things have crumbled and cracked.
“Things like the roads with their collapsed sides and gaping potholes. Things like fences. Things like the home itself with broken doors and chairs and falling down pictures. Because in the frenzy of coping with ongoing emergencies, there simply wasn’t time.”
Things like their own wellbeing: their hearts, minds and souls, which have been so shattered and tattered by the relentless crises.
Of all the people he met on the trip, the person who stood out was Anna, who runs a cattle farm with her son David. Anna was featured in the November 2022 edition of Frontier News , when she was still hoping for some volunteers.
Anna is in her late 60s and still doing the work of a 20-something. She says they weren’t that badly affected by the floods – not compared to others who lost everything – but Rob says he saw the impact the Narrabri flooding had on her fences, how high the river came, and he could tell it was tough.
“But at the same time as the floods – and the drought and the fires – Anna was still trying to get through the same life challenges as you and I have.”
And Anna is isolated – physically and socially. There isn’t someone who can just duck around and fix the broken gate. She can’t just call an electrician or even pop into her neighbours for a cuppa.
Yet day after day, her cattle still need birthing and weaning and feeding and herding, and her property still needs fencing, and her equipment still needs maintaining, and her home – her family’s home for three generations – still needs fixing.
She shouldn’t have to do this alone. No one should.
Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, Bush Chaplain Noel Williams is in Anna’s community, and he pops in regularly to offer a shoulder to lean on. Plus, we’d recently been able to send two volunteers through our Outback Links program, Lester and Wendy.
Lester and Wendy made such a difference that it was clearly visible on Anna’s face and in her voice.
What did Lester and Wendy do? They mended.
They completed a long list of jobs that Anna simply hadn’t been able to get to. It was all little things that were very big things for Anna and David.
They helped David fix the fence. As you can imagine, they have kilometres of fencing to maintain, and some were badly damaged by the floods. They fixed a quad bike so that Anna’s dogs could fit on the back. They fixed the front door, mended broken glass panes, hung pictures, cleaned out the laundry, cooked dinners and hung out the washing.
And more than that, they made Anna and David feel supported. They gave Anna a chance to mend herself while mending her property, giving her the strength to go on.
“As I left Anna’s property, I felt relieved. Relieved that we could send Outback Links volunteers like Lester and Wendy, and relieved that she has the ongoing presence of our Bush Chaplain Noel to help her face whatever comes next.
“And I also felt immense gratitude…for the kind people who support Frontier Services and the difference their kindness makes,” says Rob.
People like Anna, and the people our Bush Chaplains and Outback Links support are everyday people like us. They’re just trying to navigate the transitions and ups and downs of life.
The same personal crises hit them as any of us: the loss of a beloved life partner, kids growing up and moving away, health issues and heartbreak.
But they’re doing it without the support system that people in the city take for granted. And, they’re doing it while grappling with relentless natural disasters.
We don’t know what challenges the climate has in store for Anna and her community this year. But we do know their need for your strength and kindness is greater than ever. And we absolutely know that the kindness and generosity of Frontier Service supporters will make a real and tangible difference to more people like Anna.
Our generosity will help them mend.