Taking the Scenic Route

Apologies for the late post, I was taking the scenic route home – Sydney to Rowena via Canberra and didn’t arrive home until early afternoon yesterday.drought 1

In some respects it really was the scenic route with rolling hills covered in feed and bumper crops still to be harvested, being easier on the eye and the psyche than the dry, barren and dusty plains that awaited my arrival at home. I was certainly feeling very envious and my normally blue eyes were taking on a decidedly green tinge.

I detoured to Canberra so that Queensland CWA President, Robyn McFarlane and I could meet with the Chief of Staff and the Senior Advisor to the Hon. Barnaby Joyce, Minister for Agriculture to discuss our concerns regarding the increasing severity of the drought, the perceived complexities of applying for assistance and the cumulative pressure on landholders and communities. Although we weren’t able to achieve any real outcomes we were afforded around ninety minutes to openly discuss the issues we wanted to raise as well as plead the case for those going into their third year of drought. We are grateful to Diana and Craig for their time and their commitment to keeping the lines of communication open.

Both levels of Government are now firmly focused on preparedness and self-reliance; fair enough, but make sure your promises of increased returns to us, from free trade deals, don’t end up as empty as the food bowl has been.

The CWA of NSW Disaster Relief Fund continues to accept donations for drought affected farmers and communities and all donations over $2 are tax deductible. Click here if you would like to make a donation.

Perhaps you might consider adding rain for drought areas on your wish-list for Santa.

Riverina_Sheep_(during_drought)

Médecins Sans Frontières

The CWA of NSW has had a long association with Médecins Sans Frontières and we recently received the following letter thanking us for our on-going support and giving us a glimpse of how our donations have been put to use. This is one of the diverse causes that CWA of NSW is happy to be able to support.

If you would like to find out more about Médecins Sans Frontières you can view their website: http://www.msf.org.au

Aweil, maternal and child health care

Médecins Sans Frontières is an independent, international medical humanitarian organisation that provides emergency medical assistance to victims of armed conflict, epidemics or natural disasters, and to populations that have little or no access to health care – regardless of race, religion or gender.

Founded over 40 years ago, Médecins Sans Frontières currently has 25,000 national and international staff, including over 150 Australian and New Zealanders a year, working in challenging situations in over 60 countries. The teams are composed of specialists such as doctors, nurses, anaesthetists, logisticians and laboratory technicians.

We respond to the needs of people affected by conflict, floods and drought, run emergency feeding programs during nutritional crises, organise mass vaccination programs to prevent epidemics spreading, and tackle neglected diseases such as malaria, HIV/AIDS, measles and tuberculosis.

None of this would be possible without the incredible support that we receive from our donors and we are so grateful to the Country Women’s Association of NSW (CWA) who is one of our major contributors. Since 2008 CWA has donated approximately $140,000 to help people affected by conflict and disease, the latest donation being $55,000 in November 2013.

Recently your funds have been used in a number of key areas around the worlds and I would like to share the following with you from the field.

Our teams continue to work on both sides of the Iraqi border, responding to the urgent health needs of the people who have fled the violence. Médecins Sans Frontières is currently running mobile clinics and setting up health facilities in transit camps, as well as in camps for internally displaced people.

While we are able to respond to these immediate crises, our many other programs continue. In addition to our work in places such as Iraq and West Africa, we recently received news from our colleagues in South Sudan which I would like to share with you.

Following the recent cholera outbreak in Eastern Equatoria State in South Sudan, we are happy to be able to report that numbers of admissions to our clinics are falling. This particular project alone has treated almost 1,400 people and since April this year Médecins Sans Frontières has overall treated almost half of the 5,561 cases of cholera reported countrywide.

I also would like to take this opportunity to share with you the news of our recent international launch of the multimedia documentary, “The Reach of War” which aims to bring the attention back to the conflict in Syria. The documentary feature explores a single day in the life of the ongoing conflict through the perspective of medical workers, patients and refugees. You can view this at: http://issuu.com/msf_picturedesk/docs/thereachofwar

It is thanks to your generous support that our field workers can continue providing medical assistance to many people in the world who would otherwise go without. For this we are truly grateful to you. On behalf of our teams on the ground and our patients, thank you so much for your support.

Ruth Molloy
Major Gifts Manager

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“Hello Mrs Roughley” – Guest Blogger, Jill Roughley, State Vice Presdient

Margaret Barrett ( adjudicator & past recipient) Sky, Elizabeth, Sam, Sarah, Fergus, Self (convenor), Jessie Richardson (adjudicator & past recipient) Don Ramsland (Walgett Shire General Manager & adjudicator)

Margaret Barrett (adjudicator and past recipient) Sky, Elizabeth, Sam, Sarah, Fergus, Self (convenor), Jessie Richardson (adjudicator and past recipient) and Don Ramsland (Walgett Shire General Manager and adjudicator).

Walking into the chemist in Dubbo the other day a voice said “Hello Mrs Roughley”. I looked up to see a girl in her twenties and realised I knew her. Tash was one of the recipients of our medical grant, started by Barwon Group CWA in 1998. Tash had completed her Pharmacy degree and was hoping to be back working in our local area within a couple of years.

For me it was a reminder of the reasons we decided to raise money from the community to support our kids through their tertiary studies. We started small, only one recipient of $1000, made possible by the generous support of local business & the community. 15 years later we distribute up to $15,000 annually amongst 5-10 students.

Since its inception we have assisted 85 students & distributed over $113,000. Many local businesses have come on board as regular sponsors with generous donations. Early supporters included Walgett Shire Council, Walgett Pharmacy and of course Barwon Group.

We decided to focus on the rather broad “medical” area including Pharmacy, Radiography, Physiotherapy, medical support services and Allied Health courses, as well as Nursing and Medical degrees. The applicant can be enrolled at any recognised educational institution and their home base must be within Barwon Group of CWA (comprising Walgett Shire, Pilliga and Goodooga Districts).

The grant to the applicants is based on an interview to assess personal merit and their willingness to achieve. When selecting candidates the adjudicating panel takes into account the financial support each applicant already has in the form of other scholarships, family support and so forth. It is not unusual to grant a small bursary to the same person 2 or 3 years in a row if we feel they are particularly reliant on the funds and their record of attendance is good.

The money can be used however they wish to spend it. By giving small amounts (with no strings attached to as many as possible) we hope to encourage the next generation of professionals to return to the bush once they have attained their degree and completed their work experience. Records show many have returned to rural placements including the Flying Doctor and the Walgett Aboriginal Medical service.

Two of the adjudicators this year were past recipients. It is great to see that not only is the grant working in terms of assisting local kids to further their education, and then bringing those skills back to our community, it is continuing to find support in the form of volunteer panel members and financial assistance.

As a founding member of the medical grant, it is an endeavour I am particularly proud of. I look forward to seeing many more faces returning and would love to see more organizations start similar grants or scholarships for other areas of study. Walgett Shire actually did this last year. Our country towns need to have good services to keep people wanting to live in and around them.

“Have you been a recipient of a grant or scholarship or organised one”?

A bit and a bob from Tanya

The Barwon Group Medical Grant is one of many forms of assistance provided across the state by CWA members to help students in rural and remote areas to achieve their goals.

My reason for adding to Jill’s blog is the very real possibility that projects like ours (and more importantly the studies of the students we support) will become another victim of this terrible drought. How can we, in all good conscience, seek sponsorship from small businesses now struggling to survive themselves because of their reliance on the surrounding agricultural industry? This assistance will more than likely not be available and the added financial burden on families will mean studies will have to be deferred, or forgone altogether.

In an attempt to try and alleviate some of these stresses for drought affected families we have today donated $50,000 to the Rural Financial Counseling Service of NSW (RFCS), to be distributed to those most in need, for whatever they need most. By supporting them we will also, eventually, be supporting the small businesses that sustain our communities – swings and roundabouts, Mr. Hockey!

We hope to continue our support through the RFCS and if you would like to help keep the roundabout turning we are accepting donations through our Disaster Relief Fund. Click here. All donations over $2.00 are tax deductible.