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Outback Futures E-Newsletter 2019 Vol. 2

I think it is important to draw attention to the ongoing struggle of our outback communities right now. As we see photos emerging of the stunning change in landscape colours from harsh yellows and browns to beautiful rich greens, it is easy to think that the hardship is over and the country can breathe again. Unfortunately it is difficult to find beauty in the daily struggles that continue for so many.  There is huge ongoing trauma in recovery following the flooding crisis in the North, the devastating loss of stock and damage being faced by the Blackall-Tambo region following the rains of Cyclone Trevor and for some the dry days and nights are ongoing, with the ‘wet season’ drawing yet again to a close and the added stress of beef prices dropping hard and then rising again so quickly adding further stress to the mix.

There are so many factors beyond the colour of the landscape that determine the well-being of our remote communities and after so many years of struggle and sacrifice, recovery is a hard and long process.  

I have been reading the UNICEF report into the ‘hidden impact of prolonged drought on children and young people’, and found it offered some powerful insights from children and adolescents regarding the stresses and struggles these ongoing natural disasters have on their perception and experience of life. They talk of fears for the future of their family; their education, and an overwhelming sense of powerlessness to do anything to alleviate the stress on their family and community. We would echo UNICEF’s call for greater long-term investment into the mental health and wellbeing of our outback kids. These children are our future, and the cumulative effect of these prolonged weather events on their physical, emotional and educational development is very evident and concerning. Join us as we advocate for their needs and the need for a more intergenerational and holistic approach to supporting our Outback Family and changing their long term mental health outcomes.

Selena Gomersall


Outback Futures is very excited to be launching a campaign in partnership with the Barcaldine Regional Council called . The campaign is a tool to facilitate common purpose, conversation, activity and outcomes in all ages and parts of the community as together we combine our:

Smarts (HEAD)  + our capacity for hard work (YAKKA) = to bring meaningful change.

We are currently working with staff at all levels of the Council to better understand, value and advocate for mental health and well-being in themselves, their families and the community as a whole.

We are looking forward to developing together some desired outcomes and measures of success for this campaign via a community round table, and creating a meaningful program that will engage all ages, and impact mental health for the long term.  

Outback Futures has witnessed enormous transformation in the Barcaldine region over the last few years, with the region challenging cultural norms about help-seeking and utilisation of mental and allied health services. We want to build on this strength and insight to realise positive shifts in outcomes for kids, families and businesses into the future.

This partnership will focus on achieving several key objectives including: reduction in suicide; reduction in rates of anxiety and depression; increased safety around help seeking /vulnerability; better understanding of and utilisation of local services.

Ultimately, we are working to ensure children, individuals and families can understand and appreciate the power of good mental health and having tools for resilience; and that the community feels confident to advocate for high quality mental health services and their own wellbeing.

Stay tuned for an exciting journey ahead.

Drought & our outback kids

There have been a lot of people commenting on the mental health of our outback communities in recent months with the devastating floods and ongoing impact of prolonged drought. Information sheets and debriefing sessions are being delivered around supporting our kids through these traumas and times of crisis. but as the media spotlight wanes and city people get back to their day to day business distanced from the harsh realities of life in the Outback, I think the UNICEF report into the impact of prolonged drought on children and young people, brings things back into focus. It gives us new insight and understanding from the perspective of the children themselves.

The point must be made that this impact on children is despite the very best efforts of parents and caregivers to support and protect in every way possible - the harsh reality is that there is no escaping what is everywhere, and pervading all aspects of life for these families.

Our ‘tough country kids’ are feeling the pain right now, and no one is quite as tough or resilient as this drought requires them to be. We need to be listening more, genuinely working to hear their stories and understand their needs and we need to instill some hope where it is fast fading. Whilst this report does not speak to the situation of all children, and does not pretend to be offering solution to the general mental health issues of the drought, it has observed young people showing signs of distress, and heard them clearly articulate struggle and need for support. Some might comment on this being a NSW study, however the Outback Futures experience fits very closely with this report and we would echo their cry for intentional focus on the future of our outback communities in the form of our children and their mental health and wellbeing, and also on their experience of the system as a useful, relevant and quality means of support, and a means of equipping them to deal with the tough times that are not going to be over any time soon.

To read the complete UNICEF report, click here

Selena Gomersall (CEO Outback Futures) with Scott McMillan (Managing Director, Alliance Airlines)

Alliance Airlines & Outback Futures

Outback Futures is proud to announce the launch of an official partnership with Alliance Airlines. This partnership has been developing over the past couple of years, with both organisations sharing a deep passion for serving and supporting our regional communities. Alliance Airlines understands the importance of accessibility for our outback communities and continues to work to reduce the tyranny of distance by connecting people.

Alliance Airlines is deepening its commitment to partnering with Outback Futures to ensure the communities it serves have the best chance to recover from recent and ongoing weather events. Alliance Airlines is supporting our team to develop programs specifically designed to ensure continuity of care for these communities and to support children and families to recover well.

On behalf of our team and our outback families, we would like to express our deepest gratitude to Alliance Airlines for joining us on our journey to realising better mental health and wellbeing outcomes for rural and remote Australia.

Emma, the founder of the Outback Futures Pay It Forward concept.

Pay It Forward 

April 28 marks the official international Pay It Forward Day. The Pay it Forward concept is indeed an old one. It can in fact be traced back to a play written in Ancient Athens back in 317BC. Benjamin Franklin rediscovered the concept however in 1784 and wrote about it in a letter “....when you meet with another honest man in similar distress, you must pay me by offering the sum to him…”. Emerson in 1841, talked about rendering the benefit we receive onto someone else, and so the stories continue until the current day. The most recent modern day rendering of the concept would probably be the film starring Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt called Pay it Forward released in 2000.

Outback Futures believes deeply in the right of bush communities to have quality and accessible services provided, and so does not generally charge for its service provision, however it also recognises that many want to in fact give back for what they receive in some way, and so by contributing to support for another, they too can in fact become part of Outback Futures’ work to renew hope, build resilience and strengthen outback communities. The idea to develop an Outback Futures ‘Pay It Forward’ program came to us as the brainwave of a Central West Beef Producer (pictured above) who was developing relationship with us across a number of connections back in 2016.

“Paying it forward is about us gifting other families the opportunity to connect with Outback Futures. If everyone pays if forward just a little we can keep these services in the bush serving the families who need it most. We have loved having the Outback Futures family connect with our family, and we want everyone to experience this.”

Many have taken up the opportunity to be part of this initiative and we encourage our rural and remote friends to become part of the work we are doing by paying it forward, either in the form of a one off gift or a regular monthly contribution to the work of Outback Futures in shifting mental health outcomes in Outback Queensland. If you would like to Pay It Forward to another outback family, please consider making a donation via our website here
Copyright © 2019 Outback Futures, All rights reserved.

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