Championing Community Health in Western NSW

With the oppressive drought continuing to grip the country three of our Young Farming Champions are taking steps to fortify the health and wellbeing of their own communities. Meet Emma Turner, Bessie Thomas and Naomi Hobson who are taking high tea, bowling and wagging throughout September.

Emma Turner has about one month to go to finish her Bachelor of Agricultural Science degree from the University of New England, but her heart has never strayed far from the wide open plains of Ivanhoe where she is a sixth generation wool producer. The love for the land and her people runs strong and on Friday September 7th Emma and a team of willing workers will host a Ladies High Tea at the Ivanhoe CWA Hall.


Coinciding with Women’s Health Week the get-together will share information about health and wellbeing, make-up and essential oils and is sure to provide welcome respite from the continuing dry.

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Emma Turner  passionate advocate for remote rural communities 

Respite and relaxation are also the aims of a barefoot bowls and bocce day to be held just up the road from Emma when Bessie Thomas invites local people to her home near Emmdale on Saturday September 8th.  As well as being 140km from Ivanhoe, Emmdale is also 170km west of Cobar and 100km east of Wilcannia making it a remote region of western NSW. “Due to our geographical location and current drought conditions I believed residents of the Emmdale area needed a specifically targeted event to cater for their social and mental health needs, particularly in these times of drought when feeding stock and fixing water problems already take up so much time,” Bessie says. “Some families in this region, ourselves included, have now been hand feeding livestock for more than 12 months.

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Bessie’s sheep are looking forward to the day the rains return 

The stress and exhaustion of this drought has made it even harder for anyone to focus on getting away from their farms to recharge their mental and physical batteries.” The event will give locals a chance to take off their work boots, feel the (brown) grass beneath their feet and reconnect with each other over some friendly competitive lawn bowls and bocce.


After a week of dust storms at Burragan Station Bessie and her family are looking forward to a clear day to connect with the locals


Bessie is enlisting assistance from her regional area to make this day a success. Marie Kelly, Rural Adversity Mental Health Coordinator from Ivanhoe, will give a talk on mental health resilience techniques, Kate and Abe Damen at Dubbo Kitchen Concepts will supply dessert, The Salvation Army Rural Chaplains David and Robin Pullen from Broken Hill will be bringing their all-important coffee machine and the Cobar Bowling and Golf Club have kindly loaned three sets of lawn bowls. Have a fantastic day Bessie!

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Naomi (centre) and her A Team of  WAG coordinators Kate and Sal 

Rounding out the community events are the North West Women in Ag (WAG) days organised, in part, by YFC Naomi Hobson who works with North West Local Land Services in Narrabri. “The aim of the WAGs program is to engage women who are either directly, or indirectly, involved in agricultural industries across the North West region and who want to develop their understanding, or improve their skills in various aspects of agricultural production,” Naomi says. There are currently four WAG groups across the northwest with another due to launch in the Mullaley/Tambar Springs area in October, and with meetings run bi-monthly it looks as though these new participants are in for an exciting ride. “Each group provides direction on the topics they would like to cover,” Naomi says, “and training to date has covered ruminant nutrition and feeding, practical stock handling and working dog training, NLIS database training, understanding EBV’s and welding classes.” The WAG program has engaged more than 200 women since its inception in July 2017.

Congratulations to Emma, Bessie and Naomi. Rather than joining the pity-party that is so often the only commentary on drought, these inspiring young women are taking practical steps to address the health and wellbeing of their local communities.

#Youthinag #YouthVoices18 #ArchieAction




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