Australia’s oldest bush charity, Frontier Services, launched its annual “Great Outback BBQ” campaign in August, seeking urgent assistance to help Aussie farmers who are fighting to survive after a years-long onslaught of floods, fires, drought, plagues, and then a global pandemic.
Marking 110 years of non-profit operations this year, Frontier Services has seen first-hand the financial, physical, and emotional toll of almost a decade of repeated disasters wearing down farmers and pushing them off the land.
Having provided Australian farmers and graziers in rural communities with face-to-face support for over a century, Frontier Services’ “Great Outback BBQ” campaign is asking Australians across the country to gather their mates together and throw a BBQ full of great home-grown produce, while raising urgently needed funds to support farmers across the country.
The charity is calling on all Australians to urgently lend a hand.
“The sense of hope that Aussie farmers are renowned for is rapidly diminishing as the relentlessness of disaster, and its subsequent impacts are felt across the country,” Jannine Jackson, National Director of Frontier Services, said.
“What most Australians don’t realise is that it can take up to five years to rebuild following a natural disaster.
“Things like fixing fences and rebuilding cattle stock are one thing, but more important than this is the emotional and financial support these farmers desperately need.”
All donations received will be allocated to providing practical, pastoral, and spiritual support for farmers in regional and remote parts of the country, now facing the fall-out of a relentless period of droughts, fires, floods, COVID and now the threat of global diseases such as hand foot and mouth.
This compassionate presence has a significant impact in pulling farmers through tough times so that they can continue managing the properties they have owned for years – sometimes generations.
Jackson says that for most Aussies who live in metro and larger regional areas, the ability to pick up the phone, or duck to a mate’s place for a cuppa when times are tough is an experience most take for granted.
“For many farmers, the social isolation extends beyond just their geography but to their access to basic technology that enables them to reach out when in need.
“And even if the infrastructure existed, it’s not enough, because when you’re on the brink of breakdown, you need human connection.”
With access to mental health services notoriously limited, the need for Frontier Services’ is more pressing than ever, but funding remains a hurdle. The organisation runs two programs – Bush Chaplaincy and Outback Links.
Bush Chaplains travel tens of thousands of kilometres each year, covering 86 per cent of Australia, to visit individuals and families on remote properties for a cuppa, a chat, or to offer a literal helping hand on the property.
Trained in mental health first aid, Bush Chaplains are often the frontline, identifying urgent issues and connecting people to other service providers. With the organisation currently trying to fill six vacancies for Bush Chaplains, the demand is evidenced by the job vacancies, though Jackson notes, that with more funding, they could offer more support.
Meanwhile, Outback Links connects volunteers with people in remote Australia who need help on their properties.
These volunteers donate their skills, providing repairs and maintenance on equipment, the home, and around the property – free of charge. For larger projects that individual volunteers might struggle with, Outback Links coordinates volunteer group trips.
According to Jackson, the ongoing natural disasters paired with rising fuel costs and labour shortages mean that for the first time, everyday Aussies are starting to feel the pinch of our farmers’ hardships on their weekly grocery bill and in the availability of their favourite foods on the supermarket shelf.
“Our farmers have endured so much for so long, but the reality is, these issues aren’t going anywhere, and neither will the problems everyday Aussies face during their weekly trips to the supermarket.
“What farmers need now is to know that Australians care and that they’ll do their bit to ensure the future health of our farmers by supporting them in their time of need.”
Register to host a real-life Great Outback BBQ at www.greatoutbackbbq.com.au, then invite friends, family or colleagues, and ask them to donate.
Finally, whether you’re hosting a barbie or just buying groceries for home use, be a conscious buyer and purchase fresh, local produce to help support our mates in the bush! You can also purchase a virtual seat for $20 from the Frontier Services website.
For more information, or to find out how you can support Frontier Services, visit www.frontierservices.org