One of the great and wonderful things about our Australian rural and regional communities is their unheralded but often extraordinary ability to respond to natural disasters, be they bushfires, floods or drought.
People have lost their lives in these brutal bushfires, which have also decimated wildlife and domestic animals, destroyed thousands of hectares of flora, and burnt down homes, schools, and vehicles, robbing people of their possessions as well as businesses and future aspirations.
In addition, the devastating and enduring drought conditions that have already destroyed farming properties, livestock, crops and dreams.
But nothing has been able to destroy the irrepressible courage, resilience and optimism of our country communities – whether they be coastal, forest or outback communities.
In recent months, Australians have witnessed the very best of our nation’s personality, from farmers and rural business people responding to the harsh challenges of the drought, to whole communities on the south and mid north coast of NSW, Victoria, Kangaroo Island and the Hills district of Adelaide responding to the devastation of the fires, as well as the incredible generosity from city folk and from Australia’s overseas friends.
Australia prospers from the output generated from our regional and rural communities, and now it is time for all of us who live in unaffected communities to dig deep and support our rural, regional and remote neighbours. They are hurting and hurting hard.
At Royal Far West, we will continue to do what we have done for nearly a century – support country kids, families and communities to be the best they can be.
We urge everyone to respect the dignity of our rural, regional and remote communities. Many have lost way too much, but they haven’t lost their ability to make decisions nor their ability to ask for what they need, and we need to listen to them.
My plea is for the kids of these communities. Please know, and please remember, that many children and young people will be hurt by these fires and the drought in a way that may not be immediately obvious – children often get missed as the victims of traumatic events.
At Royal Far West we will continue our mission to support country kids in the best ways possible, to strengthen their long-term wellbeing, resilience and physical and mental health. We invite funding partners to come with us. We invite rural communities to be encouraged. We invite whole city communities to adopt a rural community and support its kids. And we invite all Australians to be mindful into the future, of how much our regional, rural and remote communities contribute to our collective wellbeing. Now is the time to step up for our friends in rural communities in ways that work for them.