How do Country Towns Survive?

I was driving into the local town this morning and heard a fantastic story on our local am abc south-east SA radio station this morning and immediately thought how proud I was to be in this community. It is of course the Lucindale field days, for those that haven’t ventured to a field day you have missed out and should look to taking yourself and family to one in your life.

They showcase everything, they pull people off tractors, from feeding hay, from crutching sheep to join together at one big attraction. They cater for the big farm machinery, what little (or big) boy for that matter doesn’t want to see and sit in big machinery, they showcase new cars, local producers, wine tastings, show rides, ladies clothing, kids clothing, sheep dog displays, bankers, schools get to advertise their boarding facilities and there is the food stalls and drinking areas to go to, plus much more.

It can be an awfully long day if it’s hot and one year when I was unceremoniously left at the gate because the map and plan was not packed into his backpack I spent my time wishing there was a bus I could get on and get home, it is about a 2 1/2 hour trip from the farm. The car keys were in his backpack, if I’d have had them on me I would have left then and there no problem. But found the local produce tents which had food tastings and wine tastings a nice place to sit and avoid most people (meaning him). We did meet up later in the afternoon, not because I was looking for him but we managed to cross paths, plus I had to get home somehow.

Anyhow, the Naracoorte community, where I use to go to TAFE have raised over $800,000 for their own CT Scanner, not a cent from the Government State or Federal. This has been done within 3 years, they will have change left over to start the replacement fund (which will need to be done in 10 years). Aren’t country communities resilient? isn’t this an amazing figure? To keep their town viable and relevant they can offer up to date diagnostic equipment now to all people in the South East they are putting in 21st Century Medical  equipment which will save the Government thousands and save many lives. This will mean people won’t have to be flown to Adelaide, won’t have to be driven over 300kms for a CT, diagnosis can be done within a reasonable radius from their homes. People living in cities don’t understand the expense of travel, accommodation and inconvenience of having to take 1 to 2 days out of your life for a medical examination.

They do understand waiting times, but rarely do they need to allocate 2 days for these sometimes 15 minutes scans. We shall now have it here to our liking. I wonder despite no offering of any financial assistance but offered a space at the local public hospital who will come down and open it up? Minister jack Snelling or will it be Premier Wetherill? They surely will not miss this opportunity for a photo-op, nor they should as they need to congratulate the committees, the fund-raisers the clubs and the community for doing this and saving them thousands.

Keith Hospital = Western Hospital a GREAT Union

There are few times in life when an outcome is successful and both parties and peripheral people get to benefit. This happened yesterday for the Keith Community. After the struggle (very public one) to retain its funding, and the fight to get the funding back, which it did it is now moving into a complete new phase and partnership.

This is a three-way partnership, Community / Government and now Western Hospital for the next two years. the Government funding was for three years to assist the hospital to become self-sufficient and is halfway through this agreement and the Board has been working behind the scenes to get a Management agreement with the Western Hospital for the next two years and an option for another two should it be a successful and financial partnership.

There is no downside here really, Western Hospital has experience and has walked the shoes of Keith Hospital, Keith Hospital is a bit luckier in that they did not actually get to close, Western had the doors shut and the electricity turned off before a group of Doctors, Nurses and community people re-opened it and has turned it completely around to a highly respected valuable health facility in South Australia, much like Keith Hospital is for the wider and country community.

I was invited to a morning tea yesterday at the hospital to hear the announcement and to watch the Chairs of both Boards sign the agreement. It was exciting and exhilarating all in one.  I am sure I along with many other community people including old Board and new Board members have spent many a sleepless night trying to come up with ways to keep this hospital open. We have fund raised and donated to ensure our rural services remained open and accessible to the community. I am sure I wasn’t the only one that let out a huge sigh of relief, no tears but laughter.

I am lucky enough to have worked in the health care industry  most of my working life and I miss it and know many people from both sides of this partnership and I can say with total honesty yesterday was the beginning of growth for the Keith Hospital and Western Hospital. Change is always frightening and challenging but I think what the staff of the Keith Hospital have lived through, worked through, donated hours of their time and had wage freezes for, I hope this for them is the opportunity they have wanted. This will be an opportunity to utilize the services of a high functioning community ‘private’ hospital with resources and private hospital wages, trust me the staff have earned it. There would be few people who would allow themselves to be underpaid to assist their place of work, many would have left and found other opportunities, this is testament to the caliber of the staff that work at the Keith & District Hospital, one which I have helped to fight for.

We have had community pledges, that overwhelmed the board, we have had Ute musters, High teas, water (still available) a Gourmand Best  in the World Charity Cookbook (still available) garage sales, picture evenings just to name a few, many people wanting to assist and now we have a tangible / workable outcome.


HIGH RES COVER for emailing

If anyone would like to stock the water or purchase the cookbook all proceeds go direct to the hospital. please contact the hospital direct 0887551555


Isn’t it a terrible word? Just the word congers up so many things. In our growing years we would have seen it, been party to it, done it, ignored it and defended it It starts almost from when we want to get things others have. The classic line being “You’re not my very best friend anymore, she is and she’s coming to my house to play” or earlier still, “you can play with me in the sand pit”. How our older peers dealt with these things would have significant in the way in which we behaved as young teens going into adult hood then into our working career.

I think if anyone tells you they were not a bully, it may not be as accurate as they think. Pushing in to get to the front of the tuck shop line can now be classed as bullying. In my day it was to get in the  front of the line, pushing others was part of the course. Being a tuck shop mum later in life, there was tuck shop monitors, tuck lunch collectors and tuck shop purchasers, it all became very structured and probably good for the little ones who were dominated by the older ones. But the bullying was taken away from the line ans there is always that child who waits and jumps on the purchasers cache, taking the best lollies, getting the first crisp and or complaining if their friend didn’t share.

Later in life there was the work place bully, the ‘older’ supervisor who would give you the worst jobs. I worked in a local retail store and despite the fact I loved check out, I worked for a compnay who had the first computerised cash register in South Australia. There were no scanners and it was more like a glorified calculator but I enjoyed it, I was ordered to go out back and help wrap lay-bys, do stock take and pick clothes of the floor that people had pulled off coat hangers, or worst still have to go to the exchange counter and collect old stock or tell an ‘older’ person we couldn’t take their 2 yr old worn out tracksuit back. It was terrible, but I did it, it gave me an opportunity to earn my own money and have independence. This was the time that Saturday morning trading had just commenced as well. I didn’t see it a bullying but took it that perhaps I was a bit more competent than others at putting clothes back on coat hangers correctly (as silly as this sounds, I took pride in my work.

Moving into my big girls career i chose nursing, now here is where bullying, sexual harassment and glass ceilings are hidden under the veil of being a caring professional. I was once at a work Christmas party just after the anti-discrimination laws came in and sexual harassment laws were being implemented and an anaesthetist said ‘well they have taken sexual harassment out of the operating theatres so it’s time for me to retire.” I was shocked at this not because it was said out loud but we didn’t consider things like ‘dirty jokes” to be sexual harassment. But we all moved on, these laws gave some of the bullies a louder voice. I worked with one nurse (actually many) who believed it was her/his “turn” for a promotion as she had been there the longest, despite job promotions asking for qualifications or to be working towards them if your face didn’t fit you were not selected for the role. I did extra curricular study and worked towards all the promotions I applied for and I never got one, I was loud, I was opinionated (still am) and I realised that I was never going to get one. The last role promotion I applied for I was acting in (and felt for sure I would get the position) and the Director of Nursing called my home where my younger brother happened to be babysitting for me that day and without asking him who he was she told him over the phone I didn’t get the job. He didn’t tell me straight away he just said she had called, so imagine my surprise (as I KNEW I was going to get the role I had been in) when she had to awkwardly tell me in person I didn’t get the job, OVER THE PHONE. I jumped in my car and fronted her, it didn’t end well and I left the institution not long after.

I have tried from that day not to bully people, to be conscious of their needs and assist them. I worked as a medical rep for years and in one of my last full time paid roles I worked in an office with other staff members. No matter how many times I would ask if there was anything wrong, I would not get an honest answer “nothing’ or “I’m having a bad day” it took me a long while to work out that this staff member would never tell me anything. As with a lot of bullies they hide behind “I can’t speak to you.” “I find you unapproachable” or “I need help to have meetings with you” or worse still you start hearing the complaints that are being made behind your back and when you try to address it, they take sick leave, deny it or go over your head to more senior staff and drag as many people into it without ever addressing the issue. As I said I am not perfect but if you can’t address the behavior and how to have a good working environment then everybody looses.

I have witnessed another form of bullying in my recent days, and have felt very sad and powerless to assist the person on the receiving end. Corporate bullying takes many forms from many people and can involve committee members, staff members & Board members. A group or posse of people can willingly make or break a career for no other reasons other than they make dislike the actions of others, they may not agree with them and they may been seen to have more power. Without a strong Chair or leader this will go unchecked and leave no protection to the person at the receiving end. It is these types of events that divide people and never good for any organization or workplace. Staff become divided, it can then become an us versus them group and leaves everybody feeling terrible, without good mechanisms to address things they become whispers, rumors and also sends people underground, fearful for their own jobs. They become silenced as speaking out can bring attention to ones self and a swift reaction from the upper powers and comments then go into the community, warranted or unwarranted.

There are no real studies on corporate bullying, if anyone knows of any please feel free to post. If there are articles on how to handle the bullying leader I would also love to have them, it may help being able to start to put things into perspective.


Times they are a changing

Isn’t it funny how much can change in a week, a day or from yesterday. Time is fleeting, informative and ever challenging if you are unable to get a good work life balance. From where I sit today and I’m sitting uncomfortably with back and leg pain, many things can be viewed in glass half full or glass half empty. I sit and listen to Craig Thompson and his excuses for spending extraordinary amounts of other people’s money whilst in charge of a union and I shake my head at this wastage and not from a moral stance but from that of a worker paying union dues expecting those in charge would be diligent and honest. I hear his glass half full speech and I wonder what the truth is, we the public will never know but one thing can be guaranteed, the money will not be paid back. There will be one to force this and I suspect he will not offer this.

We in Keith do have a Glass half full attitude and today the sense of relief in the community is understandable, we have been given a one-off grant to help the hospital recruit Doctor’s on a permanent basis. Currently we have the wonderful services of locum Doctors and they cost large amounts of money, but we need the service, we want the service to continue. Effectively the Government handing over the grant is a sure-fire way of securing the future of the Keith Hospital and this is very exciting. There are so many people and groups that need to pack themselves on their backs for remaining positive when there was no light at the end of the tunnel. We need to thank the hardworking volunteer Board of Management who were and still are tirelessly working towards having a full glass. The grant is a glass half full, it gives us time to search and put things into play and balance to get the hospital running efficiently and effectively as it possibly can without affecting patient care and the community. We need to thank all the community who have tirelessly fund raised and will do so for a while yet, but the grant has given people hope. Hope for the future, hope for financial security, hope for work and hope for the ongoing community spirits. We also must thank the Government for identifying there was a need to offer this grant to keep the facility open.


The Community is only how big???

I come back to doing a blog my life has changed again, isn’t it funny how things move so quickly, you get settled and then thump there it is. It’s time to create another opportunity and chance for you to take or leave behind. The Community of Keith is vast  not just in kilometres but in the people who support it. Though the statistic state it has a population of 1089 and declining you would not think that from the support the Keith & District Hospital gets. Over the last 18 months the ‘community’ of Keith have helped raised over $350,000 and this figure continues to get added to on a weekly basis.

I ask the question is this enough to sustain the Hospital for the long-term. We know the answer is this is not probably but it may be a possibility. There are many determined not to let it close, there are groups such as the Ladies auxiliary, the Keith Hospital Action Group, the Keith war memorial society and the cog strippers to name a few. Most of the fund-raising events the money is donated to the hospital and more so in the last couple of years than ever before. The Hospital has received money from city folk, people who drive by and from all over the globe.

The community needs to be congratulated by our Government, instead of making this a political story to suit the needs for the day, we would prefer a thankyou keep going what say we match you dollar for dollar. I find myself without a job in the hospital today, it is not really a shock it just makes me feel a bit angry. I want to be there I want to help, instead the finances need to be considered first and this is good management more than anything else. I feel confined now by my own anger, it is only my doing, career opportunities come along rarely in a country town and I thought I had one. Any who it’s time to put it behind me and concentrate on fund-raising and keeping the hospital open.

Tiresome Tuesdays

I get to this stage of my week and sometimes I am over it and others I feel invigorated to keep going and achieve. It has been a LONG month for me. I feel I haven’t really had a break despite closing the shop for the month of January. I think it just rolled over from last year with the Keith Hospital Ute Muster, I never really stopped and took stock. I just did, it is an exciting journey this volunteer business fund raising position that I do, but sometimes I feel the weight on my shoulders is too great.

I am an advocate of health care of ones self and others and as I feel tired & jadded, I went for some fasting blood tests this morning. Results will be in Friday, they will tell the picture of my inner workings not the outer. Today I may look ok, have a smile on my face, but I have had to pick myself up and shake it to restart the Keith Hospital Cook Book recipe drive, Arkaba Hotel Ladies High tea searching for an SA vineyard to co-sponsor it. I also need to follow up on the commitment from a local community member who has agreed to put up the funds for a car so that we can raffle it, chase the car company and ensure all of the i’s are dotted and t’s crossed in order to proceed. I have had assistance from a girlfriend in helping me to secure a travel prize as second prize but need to move this all along quickly. I am also writing a business proposal that will assist the hospital & community members in bringing services and clients to our hospital encompassing all and this needs to be complete by the end of the day. To ensure the launch on February 9th goes smoothly and the people we want to attend get sufficient notice of their required attendance.

Along with all of this I have to squeeze in time for my business and time to contemplate so today Tuesday has become tiresome already. At the moment due to a minor medical complaint I have been unable to exercise and I have been unable to do my morning walks for about 5 days now. I miss the freedom it gives me, the solitary time where I can walk without noise, see the beginning or the end of the day. There has to be a balance and today I do not seem to be able to find it, I have even had a coffee to ‘perk’ me up.

Reading this I think I have to move from tiresome Tuesday to toughen up princess, if I have time to write my blog then I have time to do everything else. Enjoy your day no matter what sort of a Tuesday it is for you.