Channel women tackle tough times

Community stories: 4 April 2016

In Eromanga, more than 1,000 km due west of Brisbane in Queensland, Red Ridge (Interior Queensland) has pulled off yet another successful Channel Country Ladies’ Day, bringing together 150 women from the drought ravaged communities of far western Queensland and the remote north of South Australia and New South Wales.

Now in its fourth year, the Channel Country Ladies’ Day attracted women ranging in age from eighteen to their eighties. Most of the participants were from the surrounding shires of Quilpie, Barcoo, Bulloo, Murweh and Diamantina. While these areas are considered ‘local’ by the western Queensland definition, they encompass properties that would be a five-hour drive from Eromanga, with women travelling ten hours’ round trip to attend the event. Other participants came from the further afield northern areas of South Australia, along the Birdsville Track and Innamincka areas, and from northern New South Wales, from the surrounds of Tibooburra, Hungerford and Wanaaring.

Sexual health on the agenda

The Ladies’ Day aims to reignite the inner strength of women living in remote and very remote communities and equip women with skills and inspiration from business development, to relationship and sexual health which is rarely discussed in the bush, and resources for social and emotional wellbeing. Workshops ranged from personal development, performing in business and bush fitness to singing, comedy, photography and colour in fashion workshops.

Channel Country Ladies’ Day is a project with a three tiered integrated approach: to access health services, engage with motivational speakers and experience the arts that are not readily accessible in interior Queensland. Funding from FRRR through its Tackling Tough Times Together program ensured that registration fees were kept as low as possible, with the $10,000 grant being put towards the costs of catering and the two key note speakers.

“Isolation is a significant issue”:

Louise Campbell from Red Ridge (Interior Queensland) explained that social isolation is a significant issue for women in the remote western Queensland region.

“The annual Ladies’ Day (which actually runs across a weekend) provides an opportunity for the women who attend to have fun, relax, gain knowledge, reconnect and network. Women went home having experienced laughter, feeling refreshed and rejuvenated and as one participant said, “feeling wonderful, ready to face the drought again tomorrow”. During one of the worst droughts in history for the far western Queensland region, the ability to restore faith to the women whom attended has had a ripple effect of positivity across the entire community,” she said.

This much-anticipated iconic social event has already been pencilled into many rural women’s calendars for the 2016 gathering which will be held in October at Betoota, which is officially the smallest town in Australia with a population of zero!