“SOMETIMES I feel ashamed to be Australian”.
Those are the words Brian Egan never thought he’d say. But after more than a decade, travelling thousands of kilometres across Queensland, his heart is breaking over the demise of our great land.
Here in the city, we know little of what he is talking about. But Australia’s back bone is breaking.
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Our farmers and their families are suffering. They have been for a long time.
Brian knows because he’s been there.
“My wife, Nerida, and I lost our property through drought and I was in a deep depression. I was in hospital for 12 months,” Brian tells myGC.
“My psychologist told me the only way I could fight it was to find someone who was worse off than me and help them.”
Two years later Brian and Nerida began Aussie Helpers. With just $20 they started going to the aid of farmers.
But they didn’t just drop money off and walk away.
From their first visit and the hundreds since, the incredible, lifesaving couple and a group of tireless volunteers have sat down at kitchen tables and given desperate farmers someone to talk to and a shoulder to lean on.
Aussie Helpers is on the ground seven days a week. There are no weekends or holidays.
“Depression is rife. In the past six months we’ve flown about 18 or 19 psychologists out to the farms. And we pay for all this, the government doesn’t help us.”
There are currently seven Drought Coordinators employed by the Federal Government to travel throughout all the drought affected areas of Australia.
Five are dedicated to Queensland and NSW, two others were deployed on July 1 to assist regions of South Australia, Western Australia and Victoria.
The Human Services website explains the are “to meet with service providers, attend community events and facilitate coordinated support to farmers and their families”.
A request to talk to Federal Member for Fadden and Minister for Human Services, Stuart Robert, was unable to be met.
Meanwhile, Brian has a countless number of heartbreaking stories about how this terrible Aussie shame is affecting future generations: of children hanging out to enjoy their ‘favourite cereal’ as their only birthday gift; of children praying for rain ‘to stop mummy from crying’.
This is happening in our own backyard.
“People feel like second class citizens. They call themselves the ‘forgotten people’, that’s how bad it is,” Brian says.
“We grow the best food in the world. Unfortunately they’re just not supported and sometimes I feel ashamed to be Australian. Because if you don’t believe in farming you don’t believe in the future. It’s as simple as that.”
Head to the Aussie Helpers website to see how you can help a Queensland farming family this Christmas.