Guest Blog – Marie Kelly

Guest Blog – Marie Kelly

Thanks Annette for inviting me to Blog – it is my first time!

I have been living in the Far West NSW for 25 years, moving here as part of my nursing career. Originally from rural South Australia, settling into this region was really easy. Most of my time in that 25 years was spent at Menindee, but I have worked, relieved, or socialised in all communities in the area.

I have been a CWA Ivanhoe branch member for eight years, the last two as the Secretary. The friendships gained through CWA have been great. Our monthly meetings have a social aspect, and we have fun when catering and participating in community events. Attending Group meetings and State Conferences’ involves travel time, and we make that fun too.

In January 2015, I was appointed as the Rural Adversity Mental Health (RAMHP) Coordinator for the Far West Local Health District. I am one of 14 people in this role working across rural NSW. After being appointed to this position, I moved to Ivanhoe where my partner of 10 years, Wayne, lives.

The RAMHP program is about raising awareness about mental health issues and connecting people to appropriate services. We do this through our training programs, providing information and resources and building partnerships with organisations and individuals. I provide workshops, attend events, and network with people.

This role requires me to be away from home three or four nights a week, and driving anything from 600 to 2,000 km a week. Music and podcasts help me on these long trips. Wayne works away from home too, so both of us lead fulfilling lives.

I am fearful and cautious of long distance dirt road driving. A milk crate containing water, baked beans, instant soup, toilet paper, hat, beanie, matches and glow sticks, dusters, rain coat, blanket, poly tarp, high vis shirt, pocket knife and insect repellent sits next to the second spare tyre. I also have a trolley jack, impact gun and jump start/compressor kit. A few other little tools and gadgets are wedged between these things and all my mental health resources. Most of these things have been used at some stage.


A couple of the challenges are changing tyres when the temperature is over 40 degrees and having to ‘go the long way round’ by bitumen roads when the dirt roads are closed after rain. For example, the 210 km trip to Menindee can become a 910 km trip via Hay, Wentworth and Broken Hill. Of course sometimes it starts to rain when I am halfway through a trip or an isolated storm has fallen in the middle of a route and then the fun begins. Driving in mud is not one of my favourite past times. My biggest challenge is a lack of phone and internet service in much of the area I travel.

The role in RAMHP is very rewarding and I like to think this work is making a difference to the lives of some people living in the Far West. I certainly have become more aware of looking after my own mental health and make sure I do something each day to stay mentally healthy.


Say it out Loud


Raising awareness of and offering support for mental health initiatives in the bush, particularly during times of natural disaster, is something CWA of NSW has done for some time now and we continue to encourage social gatherings where people hopefully will share their thoughts and how they are coping. Sharing how you cope may very well help your neighbour. This is my tail….

It’s 5am Monday morning and I’ve woken to the sound of RAIN on the roof!

Then I remembered, I’m not at home.


I am in Young about to start a four day tour of the branches in our South West Group of CWA of NSW and I am certain (unless they are making hay) that no one here will be uttering profanities at the sound! Hopefully when I ring Jeff later he will have lain in bed for a while this morning listening to the same sound on our roof.

At least it’s raining somewhere

The weekend before last we went to neighbours for a “rain dance” party, the next morning we got 6 spits and another dust storm! Must have to go anti-clockwise…..We did get about 5mls over a couple of days last week and I even started to get excited, thinking it might be worth cleaning up some dust, but Huey had obviously decided I was becoming far too optimistic for a ‘cocky’.

DSC_0092As I drove south yesterday there seemed to be pockets of green that actually extended into paddocks and not just on the side of the road, which only serves to lure kangaroos to an uncertain future and keep panel beaters busy. Touch wood, CWA111 has not had any close encounters….yet. Whilst on the subject of cars I must thank the members for providing successive State Presidents, for a few years now, with a comfortable mode of transport. The last president from my part of the world, Edith Gordon, traversed the state in the early 50’s by train, not possible now.

Bouncing around topics, as I tend to do, I’d like to get back to kangaroos (pardon the pun) for a minute. They have invaded my lawn! Can’t blame the poor things, its the only green around, but I wish they wouldn’t drop “you know what” EVERYWHERE!! In the last drought I fashioned a poo scoop out of an old cordial bottle, which worked a treat and wasn’t bad exercise either. In fact, I thought it was so good I made a second one to enter into our recycled article competition but apparently the judge’s assessment didn’t concur with mine, so no prize, go figure!

I’ve now upgraded to the flash spring loaded, long handled model used by (older and wiser) dog owners, but even it may not work on the offerings that two bulls left me on Saturday, after they discovered that it is actually greener on the other side of the fence! A little extra attention with the mower in those spots though will spread some useful fertilizer over a patch or three.

One thing I keep reminding myself is that at least I still have enough water, to have any sort of garden and in the big scheme of things a few kangaroos and their droppings are the least of our worries, but creating a diversion for my thought processes helps keep me sane and able to snatch some sleep at night.

These are my “keep your sense of humour thoughts”, what are yours?


Big Bikkies


Well, what a great week we’ve had, so far, boasting about our achievements!!

Here in Sydney we’ve done radio interviews, a television appearance on Sunrise (you can click the picture above to see the footage) and some print as well, all great experiences for those of us involved, albeit a little nerve-racking at the time! We’ve been promoting our fundraising efforts which support children in their educational endeavours through various Branch, Group and State grants (over $177,000.00).

We raise almost $1 million a year for:

  • Medical research projects that do not receive any government assistance, like Lupus, Rett Syndrome, Haemophilia, Umbilical Cord Blood Stem Cell Research, to name a few.
  • Support of women, families and communities, following tragedy/adversity through our own emergency fund, as well as our tax deductible Disaster Relief Fund which accepts donations from members of the public
  •  Medical retrieval services
  • Cancer research
  • Programmes for homeless youth
  • Medecins Sans Frontieres

Practical assistance like beautifully knitted items distributed to various hospitals, shelters and op shops. Assistance, both cash and ‘in kind’, is also given generously to women in the South Pacific Islands and Papua New Guinea to help improve their skills, standard of living and the health of their families.

Read what some of our recipients have to say here.

Our fundraising is achieved by various means, including the making and selling of certain creations normally topped with jam and cream, but mostly through selfless hard work and commitment.

I am justly proud of the countless volunteer hours that our 10,000 + members (including me!) contribute, allowing us to provide help when and where it is needed.

thank you¡