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'Much more than scones': CWA's 'covert' approach to caring for struggling farmers

Kelly Butterworth, Wednesday April 24, 2019 - 06:22 EST
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Julia Creek CWA's Lyn Clout. - ABC

The Queensland Country Women's Association may be best known for scones, cooking, and craft, but in small rural and regional towns, the organisation has become a meeting point for mental health assistance, as well as funding for drought and flood recovery.

In , in the state's north-west, branch manager Lyn Clout has been busy organising renovations to the hall, revamping it to include a tea room and overnight accommodation for travellers.

She is also preparing to open a room specifically for mental health professionals to work from — and part of the plan is to use the tea-and-scones image to give those struggling a level of anonymity.

"It's a covert way of offering what we do at CWA," Ms Clout said.

"People are actually unaware of what we stand for — much more than scones.

"We're very quiet with what we do with the community, we just weave in and out, keep everything discrete, and that's just what we do."

Support needed more than ever

Ms Clout said that with the devastation the local community has recently been through with flood, which followed almost 10 years of drought, mental health professionals being accessible in a subtle way in the town had never been more vital.

In addition to mental health support, the CWA also helps facilitate financial assistance for those in need.

Access to Rural Crisis Fund money is as easy as bringing a bill to the CWA office and explaining why you are unable to pay it.

An application will be then be submitted on your behalf.

Ms Clout said while many on the land are too proud to ask for lump sums, having one bill covered by the extensive funding is quick, easy, and incredibly helpful.

Feeding struggling farmers

The fund also assists farmers and their families with household support in the form of store credits and grocery vouchers.

As of February 14, more than $7,809,153 has helped 3,372 Australian families.

QCWA State President Christin King said the fund, which has been running since 1990, is made up of almost exclusively donated money.

"I've got pages and pages of community groups (who have donated) right down to fishing clubs and gardening clubs who have donated thousands of dollars," Ms King said.

"We don't take any administration funds out of the money donated, we have to source that administration cost separately."


© ABC 2019

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