Supporting the mental health needs of frontline responders

Resilience at heart of hard day’s work

There were no girls’ jobs or boys’ jobs on the farm when Bindi Murray was growing up.

As one of four sisters, all with very different personalities, Ms Murray did not shy away from the harsh reality of farming at her family’s West Woodanilling farm.

“When I think about my childhood, you had somewhere you could go and play but it also gave you the great opportunity to understand how and why your parents worked,” she said.

“We were always out doing sheep work, trough runs, lamb marking.

“When we got older and could operate a machine we did baling and driving tractors, helping to kill sheep, fixing things.”

Ms Murray was one of several guest speakers at last week’s Women in Farming Enterprises seminar at Ongerup Town Hall.

This year’s theme was resilience, which organisers told Countryman was selected to reflect the difficult season.

During her speech, Ms Murray told an audience…


Supporting the mental health needs of frontline responders

volunteer diggers
Volunteer grave diggers at the burial of people killed in the Freetown mudslides and floods. © Alpha Sesay/UNDP Sierra Leone

When the biggest natural disaster on record in Sierra Leone hit Freetown on 14 August, hundreds of staff and volunteers immediately joined in the response and relief efforts to assist those affected. The scale of the disaster challenged the authorities’ existing resources, particularly for search and rescue. “I played my part. Our contribution might not have made headlines in the media but it was a significant part of the process and I feel satisfied in myself to have supported these efforts,” says Dain Kay*, a volunteer grave digger in Waterloo village.

At the scenes of the mudslides and flash floods that killed over 500 people and displaced approximately 6000 others, volunteers played amazingly important roles in very many ways. According to Pieter Peters*, a resident of the downstream Kamayama community, rescuing people that were being washed away as well as recovering the dead from the gushing streams was frightening, but, he says, it had to be done. “We pulled both living and dead people from the flood waters in large numbers.”

The support of volunteers like Dain and Pieter was prominent at different levels of the response, as well as staff from government agencies and partners who worked…


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