Friday, 30 October 2009

Cobar Rural Network meeting made easier with video


The Cobar Rural Service Network has people traveling long distances to attend, from Dubbo  (300km)  to Broken Hill  (450km). For this meeting, thanks to TAFE's video conferencing network those in Broken Hill and Dubbo were able to use the facilities in those towns and not have to travel to Cobar. The system worked well and saved many hours of travel and stress on individuals.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Koreans try an Aussie BBQ


Due to the large amounts of horticulture and vegetable growing in the Hillston area a significant number of back packers come to town for casual work. Many of these are young people are from Korea and with their cultural background often turn up at church on Sunday morning. A group of Korean backpackers have been in Hillston for nearly two months now and have been coming to church regularly so the congregation has had a chance to get to know them a bit. This had included meals and a BBQ where the visitors were most interested in what we cooked as it was so different to the BBQs they know. To help make the visitors feel more welcome the Hillston congregation now uses Korean and English in their liturgies.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Hillston Flower Show


In spring many of the rural communities have a flower show to display the gorgeous variety of flowers growing. Hillston is no exception and the flower show is a joint function of the gardening club and the Uniting Church. The flowers are displayed in the Masonic Hall and lunch is served in the church hall next door. Works really well and this always well supported by the community.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Fords Bridge workshop


Fords Bridge is 60m North West of Bourke and is a small community with a pub, a hall, a few houses, some tennis courts and an oval where cricket is a favourite sport. However, for those who live in this area it is their community and they are passionate about living there. You may have noticed Fords Bridge appear in our posts before. Kel was there last Christmas and I went there a few months ago for an information day. However on Tues 20th Kel and I travel out to run a grant writing and story telling workshop. The day was deliberately chosen to coincide with the mobile pre-school that comes out from Wanaaring (and covers an area the size of Tasmania going all the way up into Queensland), so both Mums and kids could have a day out. There was some very terrific discussion about the Fords Bridge district and some projects that could use some funding. We also learnt a lot about the local history during Kel’s story telling session. It will be great to support these enthusiastic locals as they work to make their community stronger.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Can you help with some books?

In recent posts I wrote about the partnership between Pymble Uniting Church and Enngonia. But the committee is not stopping there. One of the other ideas that they have taken up is to put together sets of books to send to book groups in the bush. There are many options for book groups available but many of the people that I speak to find them too expensive. So Pymble’s idea is to collect 2nd hand books and use these to send out to groups in small rural communities at no cost to the people on the receiving end. Once the books have been read and discussed they will be returned to Pymble for the next group. They have collected many books already but are looking for more to finish off the sets. If you have any of the titles below and would be happy to donate them for this project you can drop them off to the Pymble Uniting Church, 1 Livingston Ave, Pymble 2073 or send them to Margaret Lowder at the same address. I think this project has great potential and I already have a number of places who are looking forward to starting in the new year, including Hillston and Fords Bridge.

The books they are looking for are:
Mao’s Last Dancer, Li Cunxin
The Red Tent, Anita Diamant
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows
The Hospital by the River, Catherine Hamlin
The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, Mark Haddon
Nine Parts of Desire, Geraldine Brooks
Infidel, Aayan Hirsi Ali
Journey of a Thousand Miles, Lang Lang & David Ritz
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson
The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger

Enquiries: Ph: 9983 9879 or email

Friday, 23 October 2009

The Enngonia/Pymble Partnership


In June Kel and I met with members of the Pymble
Uniting Church who are interested in using their skills and resources to make a difference in the bush. One of the places that Kel suggested to them as a town to work with was Enngonia and the members of the congregation decided they were keen to explore the possibilities of a lasting relationship with the people of that community. Earlier this month in consultation with the school Principal, Rosey Earle, it was decided that a bus for the school and community would have an enormous impact on the town. Enngonia is 100km north of Bourke and there is no public transport to the larger centre or a bus that the school can use for sporting and educational trips, so a bus in town would be well used. Having accepted the challenge, the Pymble congregation  are tackling the objective of proving a bus, with the offer of someone coming to Enngonia to show the locals how to maintain it and also the offer of motor mechanic work experience in Sydney. As you can imagine there is great excitement on both sides at being able to pull this project together and they are looking forward to meeting each other at the Christmas party in Enngonia in December.

Not content to focus on the bus only the people in Pymble have also sourced 10 or more one year old computers that can be donated to Enngonia and the community is currently working on plans to make the best use of these computers.

For Kel and I it is a privilege to see the results of people of goodwill coming together with a creative spirit and seeing the Pymble congregation at mission in rural NSW.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Great things happening at Enngonia


Kel and I headed out to Enngonia on Mon 19th to run a Grant Writing and community story telling workshop with some of the locals. It was excellent time for us to learn more about the community there and for the locals to explore options for accessing funds. It was great to hear their passion for their community and to discuss some of the things that they would like to see happen. There are ideas for an internet cafe, an aboriginal arts and crafts centre. We also planned a Christmas function for the community with a special invitation to the Pymble Uniting Church congregation (see next post). We are also talking to TAFE about possibilities of courses in Enngonia to up-skill people for the various proposed ideas to help bring them to fruition.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Senior student look to the future


Along with Centrelink, the local job network and the Rural metal health, I was asked to go to Nyngan school to talk to senior students. They were particularly interested in changes happening to youth allowance, which will have a major impact on country students, mostly negative, how to manage stress and how to deal with change (which was the part that I did). I found it very informative and insightful to spend time with these students who are moving into the next phase of their life and also great to see their enthusiasm and passion to deal with the changes they are facing. It is easy to assume that kids in the bush are not nearly as articulate or competant as their city counterparts but in this case it was definitely not true.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Riverina Moments of Dreaming

This week Julie and I hosted a community development conference in Moama. The participants at the conference explored the assets in their various communities and "dreamed" about how they might build on those assets to improve their towns and villages.
People came from Rankins Springs, Jerilderie, Tocumwal, Finley, Corowa, Wagga Wagga, Molong, Ganmain, Hillston and Canowindra.
The realisation of those dreams is the challenge for all of us!
Highlights of the conference were guest presenter Stephen Webb a journalist working with the Uniting Church Synod Communication Unit. Stephen guided us through how to manage the media in our community life.
Professor Robert Ayson spoke to us after dinner. Robert's chosen topic was "Choices"and how the variety of choices we make, or do not make can influence our lives and who we are.
Our thanks go to those people who attended and participated wholeheartedly. We also wish to thank the Comfort Inn Resort at Moama for their fine hospitality.
Kel Hodge

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

What are the options if you can't be a dairy farmer any longer?

If there's no water in the river to irrigate feed and you have to buy it in, and the price of milk is falling, then it becomes almost impossible to make any money producing milk. Many dairy farmers now find that the cost of production is less than the returns they receive per litre. So it was no wonder that 20 dairy farmers in the Finley area gathered to hear what some of the options might be. It was a very informative day with sessions on climate, alternative crops, recognition of skills, financial assistance and business planning. I did a session on managing change. Regardless of what the future holds for this industry along the Murray at least these dairy farmers have some options that they can consider.

Monday, 5 October 2009

North-West Sector Meets

A couple of weeks past I was asked to present at the north-west sector of the Uniting Church presbytery gathering at Boorowa.
It was an afternoon focused on rural issues and how the church might make an impact on the local community level.
Rev. Dr. Peter Powell presented a very insightful method into exploring our community and individual stories. I would recommend that you might take up the opportunity to listen to Peter as his methodology translates well into all contexts.

Kel Hodge

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Hear the Bush Beat


A wonderful festival was held in Condobolin last weekend for rural people from all over the state. Called Hear the Bush Beat it was organised by a local committee and had lots of activities for women, a men's shed with lot of health checks as well as interesting information and activities for the kids. A free concert was put on in the evening and it was a bit of a blast from the past for me to see Jon English on stage again. The catering for the weekend was done by the Salvation Army who were trialing their big new emergency catering vans and their contingent of 30 did a fantastic job.

On the Sunday morning the local churches and the group from the Salvation Army conducted an ecumenical church service and we used some of our funds to supply the food for the breakfast. Despite the freezing cold temperatures and miserable weather over 100 people turned out for the service and it was a beaut time of worship and fellowship. The Salvation Army provided a band and their young people performed a very meaningful piece of drama. Folk from the Uniting Church and the Catholic church set up the space and provided the technical equipment and other churches participated in readings, prayers and other parts of the service. It was certainly a time of blessing.

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Grim warnings at the Drought Welfare Coordinating Committee

The Drought Welfare Coordinating Committee is a state-wide committe that meets every 3 months to consider welfare issues in rural NSW related to drought. The meeting in Wagga this week heard some grim news about the water situation in NSW. With the State's dams only 28% full there is very little irrigation happening, but more seriously towns are running out of water, with 5 already having all their water carted in and many more on the knife edge. If there aren't good rains very soon we could be facing the possibility of water being carted to thousands of people in a significant number of communities. The Lachlan River will be stopped at Condobolin at the beginning of Oct if there is no rain in the catchment, which will cause issues for towns and homesteads downstream. Water will have to be carted by truck to the towns and properties which is a logistical nightmare.

However the news on the day was not all bad with some great reports from many organisations and government departments who continue to support rural people and are constantly trying new and innovative things.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Bringing vital skills to the bush


One of the issues of living in a remote part of the state is that if an accident occurs you can be a long way from help and to go anywhere involves extensive travel. So basic First Aid is a vital skill that people in the bush need. Red Cross has made a number of Senior First Aid and CPR courses available to rural communities affected by drought at no cost to the participants. This is a great service and 20 people in Hillston took advantage of the offer to increase their skills. It is programs such as this that can make a real difference to life in the bush.


View My Stats