Rural Support Workers Program
Rural Support Workers Program
The Rural Support Workers Program is a service for individuals, families and communities impacted by the 2019-20 bushfires.
In January 2023 , funding was extended by Coordinare to continue this support throughout the Bega Valley Shire, particularly the most remote communities, until June 2023.
Our Rural Support Workers provide practical home-based support to individuals and within communities. Our team of Rural Support Workers works collaboratively with other services operating within their own local communities. Services such as, Red Cross, Anglicare, St Vincent de Paul, Southern NSW Local Health District Bushfire Response and Recovery Clinician, to name but a few. Many organisations participate in what will be a long recovery period.
WHAT CHALLENGES DOES THE PROJECT ADDRESS?
We endeavour to provide timely support, remaining engaged until the job at hand is completed or other supports found. Making time for a cuppa and chat, if required, is a deliberate and important part of our approach. Some tasks are longer term than others particularly where rebuilding is occurring and more specialised skills are required. We have co-ordinated and supported the installation of water tanks, the repair of irrigation systems, removal of vegetation, brush cutting and mowing of properties, fence repairs and the supply of foodstuffs and goods. We have assisted with grant applications and accessed charitable donations to help along the way.
We continue to locate fire-affected people in need, identify support gaps, and make connections to the right assistance.
The 2019-20 fires and the ongoing disruption and dislocation created by the COVID-19 pandemic have amplified the trauma faced by many of our friends and neighbours. Understanding the effects of trauma on mental health and ongoing well-being is key to our actions and informs the events we organise and support we give. We have been well supported by Catholic Care in the provision of appropriate counselling services.
HOW DOES THE RURAL SUPPORT WORKERS PROGRAM WORK?
Reconnecting people within their own communities is key to combating the isolation of overwhelming demands and exhaustion and promoting healing and resilience.
We aim to listen well to understand the challenges and opportunities faced. We also assist people and communities to advocate for their needs to keep progress happening.
The principles of Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) which underpin this project expresses the value placed on drawing on the strengths that already exist within communities.
Funding of $580,000 has been provided by Coordinare through the Public Health Network to date, with an extension and funding increase of $100,000 in 2023 to continue our work and finalise projects.
CONNECTION TO ECAC’s MISSION STATEMENT
The Rural Support Workers project connects to the following ECAC objectives:
- An inclusive environment encouraging participation from all groups and fostering positive relations
- Build community social and economic capacity
- Develop local solutions to local problems
- Raise the aspirations of individuals and unlock the potential of community
If you live in the Bega Valley Shire area and were affected by the 2019/20 bushfires please make contact with us.
We do not share any information we receive from you with anyone without your written consent. This includes when you ask us to contact other services on your behalf.
Yes, if you need assistance with a bushfire-related issue we are here for you.
SOME EXAMPLES OF OUR WORK IN THE COMMUNITY
Chicks with Chainsaws
Chicks with Chainsaws empowered women throughout the Shire to be confident and independent in bush settings. The two-day training course provided that confidence in the safe handling of machinery for property maintenance and in emergency situations. Chicks with Chainsaws is an initiative of the Eden Community Access Centre’s Rural Support Workers Project, delivered by Walan Miya and funded through Smart and Skilled NSW. Be sure to express interest if this course is relevant to your needs.
An ongoing project that stems from the activities of the newly formed Cobargo Community Garden. Participants learn how to sustain a small productive home garden. Demonstrations of skills and the sharing of information takes place at the Cobargo Community Garden and is led by a local commercial market gardener. During the pandemic Zoom gatherings were held. The project was initially sponsored and free to participants but has gradually evolved over four sessions to be financially sustainable, with participants paying a fee which meets tutor, materials and catering costs. 10×10 attracts a wide range of local gardeners and is a point of connection for the Cobargo community. Various side projects, initiated by 10×10 graduates, have also begun including a group that meets weekly to raise seedlings, a group that visits each other’s gardens monthly, and a new gathering called a ‘stone soup’ where gardeners and cooks come together to create seasonal and regional meals with excess produce.
50 Sheds project
This project is distinctly collaborative, a good example of the success of working together for the common good. The project was designed by the local RSW and Triangle Tool Library to help advise, subsidise and facilitate the building of sheds on properties where housing and infrastructure were impacted by the fires. Anglicare played a key partnership role, engaging with participants’ longer term master plans, demystifying planning rules, and challenging whether the proposed shed is the right solution for each individual. The RSW project contributed a wages component to project manage the complex logistics and ensure good communication on this reciprocal model. Much work has been done to evolve the initial shed design, to keep material costs low and skillsets basic, and yet ensure the product sits well in the landscape. The recipients pay for all materials, Triangle Tool library provides a fully equipped building trailer, and over the four day build the participants receive onsite training and supervision by a qualified carpenter. Six sheds were built in 2022 with another 10 scheduled for 2023.
Triangle Tool Library
Other projects include support and development of the Triangle Tool Library in Cobargo which has been instrumental in providing residents with the tools and knowledge they need as they rebuild their homes and their lives. The library was successful in receiving a $134,000 BCRRF grant to build 4 “Resilience Trailers”. RSW has provided project management support to conduct community surveys on exactly which tools the community wanted and support the library in the procurement phase. This engagement led to several “user groups” forming around niche tool areas. The user groups were empowered to make decisions on how the tools were deployed and are now initiating community training workshops and service models. One food preservation user group is looking after $20,000 of commercial food processing tools and organising community gatherings where bottling and canning of local produce takes place. These gatherings connect people from remote and isolated areas who have a genuine shared interest.
Art Therapists were engaged in Eden and Bega to support bushfire-affected community members who felt more comfortable expressing themselves through their art.
Creative Arts as Therapy is a continuation of that theme by allowing remote and isolated people to reconnect through music, ceramics, painting, drumming and singing and photography. These programs were all well received with lots of great feedback from participants.
Bemboka focussed attention on developing a Red Cross sponsored Community-led Resilience Team (CRT) in 2023 and our local RSW has supported this initiative.
We support other services in the area to deliver their programs in various locations and we are always interested to hear of novel ways to support our communities.