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