Community stories eNews: 28 June 2023
In rural communities where enduring drought and devastating bushfires have left an emotional toll, a cancer diagnosis can lead to a particularly isolating and challenging experience. With support from our Strengthening Rural Communities program, Macksville Community Health was able to make a real difference in the wellbeing of women living along the Nambucca river and living with or in remission of cancer.
As a subsidiary of the Mid North Coast Local Health District (MNCLHD), Mackville Community Health provides healthcare for communities in the Nambucca Valley, NSW. Many of their successful support systems and programs are designed to address the impacts of the recent drought and bushfires.
Thanks to the support of the Fire Fight Australia Fund, they received a grant of $10,000. This allowed them to host a three-day retreat at the Yarrahapinni Ecology Centre for women living with or surviving cancer, who had been affected by the 2019/20 bushfires in the region.
The Sisters Retreat s Guided by Local Gumbaynggirr Women in a ‘Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony’, the retreat used engaging activities to educate the participants on a range of different coping mechanisms that allowed them to feel empowered and regain some control over their own lives.
The strategic nature of this program helps the organisation tackle important issues in rural communities such as declining mental health in the aftermath of the bushfires. Of the women reporting poor mental health, many were single or living remotely, with little access to their support network. By attending the Sisters Retreat, these women were able to connect with others in similar situations.
McGrath Breast Cancer Nurse, Carolyn Cross said that without grant, the project would not have gone ahead.