To our sisters in the outback

Get it’s Kathleen Loxton looks to the heartland of Australia and investigates how we can do our part to help our sisters in the outback.

Images have flashed across our television screens recently, heartbreaking visions of our Australian farmers losing their livelihoods and precious animals in one fowl sweep of devastating whether. Weather it is drought or floods affecting our spectacular rural areas, farmers are bound by changes of climate and the state of the economy. It can be tricky to know how we can help from the Gold Coast, but our sisters in the outback need our assistance and Get it recently met a couple of remarkable women who demonstrate the good that can happen when we lend a helping hand.

Examples of the current situation

  • The February 2019 floods in inland north Queensland did unprecedented damage, and the impact is still being felt today. The ABC recently reported that the cost could near $2b. They stated more than 10,000 kilometres of fencing was swept away and 664,000 head of stock is estimated to have been lost across the total area.
  • Last month reported that, “On the Victorian border 140km west of Albury, farmers who usually celebrate harvest at the annual Finley Rice Strippers Ball in May will this year share war stories of barren paddocks and lean times.” They stated farmers are suffering in silence because they can’t afford the time or fuel to see mates.

Support from the Gold Coast

Anni Diamond, founder of Outback Beauty Angels and creator of phenomenal Facebook page Adopt A Farmers Wife, spoke to use about helping out right here from the Gold Coast. Anni started Outback Beauty Angels as a way to connect with female farmers across Australia and provide them with the things that are readily available to us; including everything from desperately needed everyday items to beauty treatments. “The women in farming communities are its backbone. At the same time, they are still women and even to have a favourite shade of lipstick means so much,” Anni explained. She continued, “Adopt A Farmers Wife grew from this idea, because I wanted to find a way for city women to be able to connect with women in remote areas across Australia. What they need is support and to know they are appreciated.”

Anni spoke of the importance of being grateful for farmers and showing them support
every day, not just when we see a drought on the news. “From the moment we wake up in the morning, have milk with our cereal and grab our leather handbag as we walk out our front door, to the moment we get home and put our woollen pyjamas on, we should be grateful to farmers. There are so many things we take for granted! Just like when we go to supermarkets it’s as if food just ‘fell out of the sky’, but it has to come from somewhere,” said Anni.

Currently, Anni is in the process of planning a luncheon to collect products for our sisters in the outback; including items like lipsticks, nail polish and tampons. Furthermore, through Adopt A Farmers Wife, we are encouraged to donate our clothes and books too. This will not only help our sisters in the outback, but their children also, who will grow up with this fantastic example of comradery.

Anni explained what is hugely beneficial in creating these online discussions, which need to be fostered and cherished, is that it gives women in the outback the chance to speak up about what it is that they need.

An example of hope

The internet has provided many farmers with the ability to share their stories, their heartbreak, raise what awareness and support they can, and made it possible to connect with Australians all over. Social media has been instrumental in this and is a fantastic way for Gold Coasters to get involved in supporting our farmers. By giving even just a little bit of your time, support and love, amazing things can happen. What’s even more incredible? These efforts have a life-changing impact on real families and real people, who are so deserving of our help.

Another special Facebook page we are huge fans of at Get it is Elli Lockett’s Facebook
page, The Ornamental Farmers Wife. On March 2, 2019, Elli posted this about her family’s 180- acre dairy business situated near Neerim, in Victoria …

“I’m going to just rip this off like a band aid, probably more for my own benefit than yours, that sadly this might be one of my last posts as The Ornamental Farmers Wife. (I’ll pretend I just didn’t hear the clink of celebratory drinks!)

As of last night, my husband and I have become one of the latest casualties to the punishing conditions of this industry… Drought, the sky rocketing costs of production, paired with the pitiful milk price, like most of you has hit us hard.

The last 16 months we have lived pay to pay, selling off whatever we could get our hands
on to keep going, to buy feed when the rain didn’t come, to pay bills when the milk cheque was short, borrowing money up to our eyeballs just to put food on the table, and get through just ‘one more month’, at one stage we even accepted help from the legendary Aussie Helper crew, despite it putting an enormous dent in our pride. But there’s nothing left to sell, and the devil already has my soul.

As I write this through tears a part of me feels relief, the other – utter devastation. The
relief comes at the thought of ending this constant stress. Our life at times has felt like a
balloon, blown out as far as the rubber could stretch and all it would take is one tiny pin prick to blow the arse out of the whole thing. But the heart break comes from years of blood, sweat and tears we put into this to make it work, it’s hard to see the state of the land we put so much into, not be able to give anything back, it comes from the sense of
failure and the dreams that will never come to fruition. I feel sadness for the hope and pride behind his smile in this photo.

Last week my hubby filmed a video of support for everyone in this industry, from those that are struggling through this crippling dry spell to the farmers up north under water. He wanted you to know we feel your heartache. I’m not sure he realised at the time that we are one of you, or maybe he just couldn’t bring himself to admit it. He doesn’t cope with being at the hands of something he can’t control, the weather. He’s worked through the exhaustion 7 days a week, used every skill he has to improve the situation, I’ve been by his side as he’s questioned everything he knows as a fourth-generation farmer, but no matter how hard he works he can’t make it rain.

As resilient as we are everyone has a breaking point, it hasn’t just taken its toll on our finances, it’s chipped away at our mental health, I’ve watched it change the man I married, once full of life, with big ideas and dreams, he used to be the life of the party, now he suffers from depression. My husband buries his head in his phone and denial as he spends his days feeding his girls in the hope it will make a difference in the vat, but it doesn’t, by the time he gets home he’s a zombie. It’s put cracks in our marriage, our children suffer from bouts of anxiety when they can see how drained their parents are at the end of every day. They watched and listened as we fell apart last night as the realisation of the decision we had to make smacked us right in the chest and
shattered all five of our black hearts.

Unless a miracle occurs by the end of next week we are done. There is no long-term certainty for us, sure we could fight through another month, our arse firmly out of our pants, but we would rather get out on our own terms, before someone takes the decision out of our hands. I’m incredibly proud of what we have achieved together, the road has been long and f*ck*ng dusty but we have laughed, cried, wanted to bury each other, spent our days side by side, he’s taught me how to be more than an Ornamental Farmers Wife, he taught me to be a farmer and that’s something no one can take away from us.”

Shortly after posting this Elli was inundated with messages from her beloved followers, requesting ways to donate. People connected with her honesty, her story and her humour, which remains fierce despite all her and her family have been through. Bravely, Elli took up the fight again, creating a GoFundMe page from advice she received and initiating an adopt-a-cow fundraiser. Since then, all their milkers have been adopted and her blog has grown to an audience of over 9,000: this and their determination saved the farm.

This emotional and physically draining journey is one so many Australian farmers face daily, and farmers like Elli need our help. We may not be able to make the drought stop, but we can do our part by buying Australian produce, supporting our farmers and helping a sister out! So, Get it girls, reach out to your sisters in the outback, connect and make a difference.

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