Tuesday, 28 April 2009


As with most of Australia, ANZAC in Hillston is a growing affair. Each year the numbers are increasing, especially amongst the school children and young people. In a small country town in can be very much more personal as most of the families are known to the whole community. This year the address was given by a senior school student whose grandfather was the president of the RSL for here for many years.
The band of 3 does an excellent job going to Rankin Springs first thing (117 km SE) and then to Goolgowi (60km south) after the Hillston parade. It was also fantastic to have the local pony club take part.
Lunch in the RSL for over 100 people is a great time to catch up with lots of friends and neighbours.

Monday, 27 April 2009

God's Networking 1

It is fantastic when churches from the city area and the country area get together. Last week Hillston was very fortunate to have a 30 strong team from Hoxton Park Anglican church come out and run a children's mission. It was a fantastic time for the local kids.

One of the highlights for me was the bush dance on the Saturday night. The Hoxton Park team includes a superb bush band, "Ambush" who got the crowd all dancing enthusiastically. A great time was had by everyone. The Irish contingent (see God's networking 3) also taught everyone an Irish Jig - which I have to say is harder than it looks!

And of course the ecumenical service on the Sun morning was a very joyous and moving time of worship with the visiting team, and congregations from the local Anglican, Baptist and Uniting churches.

God's networking 2

Why are we always so amazed when God comes to our rescue.

1.Recently I was in Dubbo looking at some photos in the art when I ran into an old friend from Condobolin whose kids grew up with mine. On talking to her I found out that she now works with DOCs and was in a position to help with a preschool in a tiny rural town that was struggling.

2. In the same week I spoke at a church in Bathurst and mentioned some of the places that I visited. After the service one of the congregation came up and mentioned that he also went to a lot of same places. It turns out that he works for Corrective Services and was able to help with an issue about getting minimum security prisoners involved in a local football town team because there were not enough other young men in the town to field a team.

God's networking 3

One of the advantages of the Rural Chaplains network is that we can refer to each other when the need arises. Last Wed I had a call from a Centrelink Social Worker who had been referred to me by the "local" Salvation Army Chaplains at West Wyalong. There were 4 Irish young people stuck in Hillston. They had been sent to Hillston for fruit picking but when they got here there was no work and they were out of money, very hungry and sick of sleeping in their car. They have been staying with me and are delightful. David has picked up some work and the others are hoping to start on almonds in the next day or two. It is disappointing that employment agencies take advantage of kids like these. They had been sent from Mildura to Hay for work, told to hang around Hay for a week and then told there was no work but to go to Hillston, by which time their money had run out. They are keen to work and it doesn't do anyone's reputation any good for them to be shunted around the country like this. There are so many of them that end up in Hillston it is ridiculous.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Drought Drama

Following the 2003 bushfires in Victoria a very successful play was written capturing the personal stories of some of those involved. "Embers" was produced by the HotHouse Theatre in Wodonga and was the inspiration of Artistic Director, Campion Decent and social researcher, Les Hume. With "Embers" having finished it's Australian season and about to begin its international tour Les and Campion have decided to turn their attention to drought, so they have been travelling through rural NSW interviewing people on their experiences. While they were here in Hillston they managed to talk to about 9 different people and listen to their journeys. Not only is this helpful for the authenticity of the play but it can be therapudic for those involved.
It is certainly positive that some of these personal stories will be captured and portrayed in this unique way.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Networks continue to pay dividends

Having put quite a bit of time and effort into establishing networks across a significant part of western NSW it is great to see them paying dividends. The photo is a picture of Urana Urana network at their last meeting. This network is functioning well with plans for future joint activities, investigation into providing accurate and up-to-date information for local people on services provided and support for each others functions. It is also an opportunity for me to see how people are going and often to have more personal indepth conversations with individuals.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Farmers explore the options


Last week a workshop was held in Griffith for farmers exploring different options for either existing farming or staying on the land. Speakers included a couple who had exited a few years ago, a succession planner, someone talking about recognition of prior learning, water licences, different crops etc. I lead a session on managing change. It was an excellent day all round with something for everyone. Days like this are a good example of how many farmers are actively seeking to manage the changes that are occuring in primary production.

Hillston Youth have a P night


The Youth Group in Hillston is a joint venture of a number of churches and meets about twice a term for lots of fun, fellowship and rowdy games. Recently their meeting was on the "P" theme so there was lots of Princess, Pirates etc. And of course the supper was pizza, picklets and popcorn. I gave a short talk on the meaning of Easter and if the level of nosie during the games was any indication a great time was had by all.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Condobolin says enough is enough


NSW Department of Primary Industries has announced the closure of a number of Research Stations in NSW including Condobolin. For a small town like Condo the loss of 20 jobs has an enormous impact, not only with the loss of income but the effect on services such as the number of teachers in the locals schools and other services.

So about 400 people turned out to show their support for the facility, the staff and the important research that is being carried out. Many found the decision hard to understand as the station is almost self-supporting (with the crops grown) and there are no plans to sell the land.

As there was no-one representing DPI at the meeting the other side of the argument was not presented but it is hard to see decisions made like this that have such a profound effect on rural communities.


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