Monday, 30 August 2010

From the River to the Pub

Last Thursday I went to the NSW Farmers Mental Health Network meeting in Sydney. This is a network set up by NSW Farmers with some of the key mental health and welfare bodies, to help progress good mental health in the bush. The meetings are held about 3 times/year and focus on issues from the mental health blueprint.
This meeting spent some time looking at some of the employment and other implications of the reduced water allocation in the Murray Darling Basin (more on this to follow in future blogs). We also looked at the lack of good ways of presenting drug and alcohol information and education to community members and the network has undertaken to look at this issue over further meetings.

The meetings for the Network are always stimulating and are a good example of rural organisations taking the initiative to address some of the issues in the bush.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Oberon In August

Last Sunday I was hosted by the Oberon Uniting Church congregation. It was a very cold August day in the high country.

I must say the fellowship was warm as I lead worship and spoke at morning tea about the possibility of building a regional alliance in the Central Tablelands.

The people in Oberon stated that they saw value in being a part of a civil alliance in their region.

Oberon is a small community and I believe it is fairly typical in the passion of its community members for each other and their way of life.

Kel Hodge

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Nothing like a big log fire and a good speaker on a cold winter night


Carrathool is a tiny community just east of Hay. The town itself has about 30 families, a primary school and a pub. There is also a strong surrounding farming community. One of the great geographical aspects of Carrathool is that it sits very close to the Murrumbigee River and I'm told the fishing is great.

Last Thursday over 40 adults and kids gathered in the pub dinning room (where the big open fire was doing a great job of warming everyone) to hear John Harper talk about recovering after drought. The evening was sponsored by WorkCover NSW and Industry & Investment NSW and was designed to help people think about their mental health.

After the extremely entertaining talk I lead a discussion on "where to from here for Carrathool" and there was great support for getting together to do some future planning.

And of course sitting in front of the fire chatting with others after the meeting was a great way to wind down before retiring to a very comfortable room in the pub.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Sydney Day Mission


Last week I was invited by the Sydney Day Mission Group to preach at the Annual Thanksgiving Service.

It was a wonderful morning with over 60 women gathering to worship together. The singing in the beautiful Roseville Uniting Church was great and the fellowship very warm.

There were also representatives from Catholic, Baptist and Presbyterian Ladies groups.

I find it very heartening to see this level of commitment to the mission of the church, especially for our mission in the bush.

Thanks ladies for a lovely day.

Friday, 13 August 2010

City Aid to the Bush

(The following has been written by Rosie Earlie, Principal of Enngonia Public School)

Enngonia Public School has been fortunate to develop a partnership with the Pymble Uniting Church. One of the church’s aims is to provide hands on and materiel support for schools and communities located in isolated and remote NSW. After much discussion between the church, community and school it was decided to offer each tutor and family with a student at the school a computer for home use. This will provide continuity between school and home as well as allowing for greater communication with parents on an educational and social level. We are already beginning to work towards developing sites that allow students who are ‘flooded in’ or unable to attend school to access class work via the internet and have face to face discussions with their teacher. We see technology as an important part in providing equal opportunities for all our students and developing a lifelong love of learning as well as having access to a world beyond their immediate locality.

Last Saturday saw the culmination of a dream for our students and their families when Andrew and Bill delivered and set up their new laptop computers. Andrew Williamson, a member of Pymble Uniting Church, and Bill MacLennan his friend and adventurous IT expert, have spent many months making sure the computers purchased would meet our student’s educational needs. This is the first of many more projects that will benefit the Pymble group, our students and the wider local community.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Visit to Enngonia


A large part of my job is building networks between people to achieve better outcomes for small communities. Recently it has become obvious that there needed to be better communication between service providers and service providers and the community in Enngonia so last week I convened a meeting of ggovernment, non-government agencies and community groups who had projects planned.
It was a great meeting because many of the people in the room had not heard about others proposed projects and there were many synergies. Not only was it terrific to hear how much is planned for Enngonia but many of those in the room found different  ways to enhance their projects by working with others.

It was also wonderful to have representative from the Pymble Uniting Church who were able to talk about their partnership with school. On the Saturday others from the church arrived bringing computers for school families (see the next post).

The next morning we were able to stay for the mobile preschool and NAIDOC (National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee) celebrations which were good fun.

Friday, 6 August 2010

dc training


The Uniting Church and Rev Stephen Robinson has been working very hard to training as many Disaster Recovery Chaplains in NSW as possible. Recognising the need for rural Chaplains two of the trainings have been held in Griffith and Dubbo.

Not only has it been a good time of learning, but it has also been great to bring together people from a wide variety of denominations including Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian, Baptist, Uniting and Churches of Australia (AOG).

I was very privileged to be able to participate in both the trainings, renewing acquaintances with some and making some new friends. We have some very dedicated ministry agents in all denominations working in the bush.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

A wonderful ministry


Let me introduce you to Joe. Joe is a retired farmer and builder who lives in Hillston and has a wonderful minstry using his carpentry skills. Joe makes "Holding Crosses" for me and others. These are beautifully worked crosses that are made to fit into your hand. I particularly use them when I am with people who have been through a trauma and often people find that having something to hold is helpful when you can't find the words.

Joe is quite passionate about his crosses and has been giving them out to a huge number of people in Hillston with some remarkable results. People seem to appreciate the thoughtfulness.

Joe was also insistent that I take some with me to Bali and they proved very valuable, especially with the young Australian prisoners that I meet at the jail. They were very readily accepted.

Thanks Joe for this great ministry.


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