Stu­dents sup­port farm­ers

The Northern Star - Northern New South Wales Rural Weekly - - BOARDING SCHOOL FEATURE -

THE Jones fam­ily has called Padua home for the past 18 years. Shane, Amanda and their chil­dren Reece (Rock­hamp­ton Gram­mar School Year 11, 2015), So­phie (RGS cur­rent Year 12), Fletcher and Noah live 30km north of Il­fra­combe.

Amanda said they re­ceived about 80mm in the past year.

“Clouds came from the east this week and dis­persed into noth­ing, but the crick­ets were go­ing crazy and the lit­tle black bugs were driv­ing us nuts. Rain will come. We just have to wait a lit­tle longer,” Amanda said.

The ex­pe­ri­ence of the Jone­ses is a fa­mil­iar story through­out ru­ral Queens­land. Each fam­ily is fac­ing dif­fer­ent ad­ver­sity, enduring their own bat­tles against the big dry.

“Emo­tion­ally, cop­ing with the fact that most of what we have worked for, for the last 18 years is gone, and the con­stant bleak out­look as you look out on your prop­erty and work­place each day is dif­fi­cult to describe,” Amanda ex­plains.

While there is great pride among Cen­tral Queens­land drought-stricken fam­i­lies, they humbly wel­come sup­port.

The stu­dents and staff of The Rock­hamp­ton Gram­mar School have ral­lied to­gether to pro­vide what sup­port they can, how­ever big or small.

RGS Pri­mary School teacher, Mrs Brady, wel­comed dona­tions of sta­tionery from RGS fam­i­lies and the wider com­mu­nity, which would go to the stu­dents of Lon­greach School of Dis­tance Ed­u­ca­tion.

Mr and Mrs Brady hit the road west over the school hol­i­days to de­liver the goods and the school’s good wishes.

Mrs White­head’s Year 4 class raised $1376 for the Buy A Bale drought cam­paign by sell­ing home­made items in­clud­ing pet rocks, pen­cil hold­ers and note­book cov­ers.

RGS sec­ondary school stu­dents are al­ways happy to sup­port a good cause, es­pe­cially when there is a sausage siz­zle on of­fer.

Year 9 agri­cul­ture stu­dents helped raise hun­dreds of dol­lars for Buy A Bale and Drought An­gels with a bar­be­cue dur­ing morn­ing tea be­fore the end of term.

In Au­gust, sec­ondary school stu­dents and staff dressed as farm­ers for a day and raised more than $1500 for the Fiver for a Farmer cam­paign.

“Com­pas­sion is an amaz­ing thing. The thought that oth­ers took the time to think of (us) and give their time, ef­fort and money was very touch­ing,” Amanda said.

Direc­tor of board­ing at RGS, Mr Stewart Nor­ford, said while many of the school’s ru­ral fam­i­lies were do­ing it tough, it wasn’t just the gra­ziers the drought was af­fect­ing.

“We are acutely aware that the RGS board­ing par­ent com­mu­nity is not just ‘farm­ers’. Re­gard­less of our school’s proud her­itage of pro­vid­ing qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion for Cen­tral and Western Queens­land that is in­her­ently con­nected with the ru­ral in­dus­try… the past, present and fu­ture of our board­ing com­mu­nity has min­ing in­dus­try em­ploy­ees, small busi­ness own­ers, trades­peo­ple, teach­ers, doc­tors, home keep­ers, El­ders, etc – each fam­ily on their own jour­ney,” Mr Nor­ford said. “The one thing in com­mon for all is that the big dry di­min­ishes pros­per­ity and the af­ford­abil­ity of ev­ery­day ex­penses.”

For now, the Jones fam­ily is fo­cus­ing on their love for the land to see them through these try­ing times.

“The com­mu­nity and love for what we do and the hope that one day soon the pad­docks will be green once again keeps us push­ing through. We love what we do. To love what you do, you can’t give up on it.”

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

HELP­ING OUT: RSG stu­dent So­phie Jones with younger brother Noah on their fam­ily prop­erty, Padua, near Ill­fra­combe.

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