Duty of care – a mental health issue

In this day and age, we know and understand this statement don’t we? It pertains to how we need to look after and care for others. We owe those we associate with, work with and know a duty of care to ensure their social, work and financial well being is catered for.

Things have gotten so out of hand that we even have an R U OK day where we as a society have identified others are needing mental health support due to pressures of life. What happens in ones life can determine how people are and act, we do not know if the person we sit next to everyday is suffering from a mental illness, is one of the women in domestic violence situations or that the person who laughs with us at lunch needs extra support unless we offer or they ask.

What happens when this is breeched? most people know the decisions they make will have a financial and mental health impact and act with no good will towards another person. This is done daily but can be exacerbated close to ‘significant holiday times”. There are CEO’s and bosses out there who act within their own power base with little or no regard to their staff. It becomes about what is best for them, so will retrench, fire, invoke probationary period clauses, remove and terminate employment with no regard for the person they are doing this to.

Should it matter? Should the rest of the office staff be worried? Should they be silenced? Should the person who is the subject of this behavior be further humiliated by being escorted from the premises? or worse still, turn up to work to find their swipe card has been cancelled, computer password changed and have to sit and wait for the CEO to come into work to fire them. It should matter and everyone will be affected by these decisions, especially if no real reason is ever given. It happens and everyone waits for the memo or fall out.

How is that behavior well balanced? how is it good for the work environment or endorsed by a Board or Senior Management? Is it a case for those not involved ‘if I can’t see it then I can’t be blamed? I can’t be fingered if I am not in the room or present at the time of the firing? ”

Can we site ‘the lawyer says” “full support of the board” “in the best interests of” to fire people?  How do the those that remain ever trust a Manager or CEO that can remove people without even turning up to work on time to fire someone? or having the staff watch whilst the person is walked out within full view of an office (Normally not done by the person doing the firing by the way, they hide behind the door and get someone else to do it).

Is any industry exempt? I don’t think so. I think it happens more than we know or hear about. Can we prevent it? most definitely not, should we stand up to yes, absolutely. How do we do this without losing our jobs as well? Humans, being who we are rarely fight it for the humilitation and bullying that the person has suffered by the person who has issued the leave work immediately has the power and the money.

Most CEO’s or Managers will publish a memo or email stating how disappointed they are this has occurred, invite feedback knowing that no one will speak up. If Mangers truly believe they have an open door policy when this occurs then they are kidding themselves and staff know this. Most take the silences of employees as acceptance instead of fear, so go about believing that their actions have had no impact on the remaining staff.

Is there a good way of doing this? I think so, there is always choices especially with 1 week to Christmas. As a good Manager or CEO saying to a Board, this isn’t a good look, why don’t we say please look for work as after Christmas there is no position here for you. Surely leading up to Christmas we owe all of our staff a Duty of Care to ensure they are looked after. On the farm it’s easier when we find an orphaned calf, we care for it until it is old enough to go join a mob, we owe these animals our duty of care to provide for them rather than let them suffer.

If only some human beings would look after staff in the same manner, if you have staff that doesn’t fit somewhere, assist them to somewhere different. To take away financial support i.e. a wage can set some one up for suicide.

If you need help call life line 13 11 14




Helping in hard times

Whether in drought or not, life doesn’t stop for anybody or anything, people have to manage with the circumstances they have got, right?  To some managing is all about assisting and helping others, to others it’s about helping themselves and as I stated in my first blog, farmer first family second, farm third and no matter how you look at it women put themselves last.

We always think of others and in small communities, such as country towns when people need assistance, women find it easy to give but not to ask or accept as we can always find some one else who needs it more, can’t we? In our paddocks includes those within our environment who need us to be there, to hold them gently in your thoughts whilst they struggle., to find that extra dollar and give it away if you can.

I managed a quick catch up coffee with a dear friend today, one that has gone the extra mile for me when I was struggling mentally living in a small town, kilometres from the town, hundreds of kilometres from my daughter and family and felt I never fitted in she was there telling me I did and if it was a friend I needed she was there right in front of me. I gladly and willingly accepted this friendship and value it highly.

She has listened whilst I spoke and today it was my turn to listen and I asked if I could write my blog about her and what she is going through currently  and she said yes so I’m going to ask all of you that can, please do.

1 year ago this month she was in hospital, after having done a market stall approx 300kms away from home when she hurt her back and ended up in hospital there until they got her home, weeks later. Her husband and 3 children managed without her and when she got home she picked up work and began her recovery. She is doing fantastically, 7 weeks ago her husband took himself off to the Dr with a swollen arm, 3 hours later they were in Adelaide and are now on the ferris wheel of chemo, separation, financial stress and homelessness – thankfully they can live in the Leukaemia village whilst their children attend school 300 kms away.

Lana travels weekdays to her casual job in Keith, weekends to spend time with her children in Penola or to collect them and take them up to the city for them to see their dad. She will travel to spend time with Damien whilst he is having chemotherapy and can not work.

I think she is doing an amazing job as a wife, mother, friend, sister, daughter and is coping as best she can with the stress of travel, finances, work, motherhood and being a wife, where is the time for her? When will she get her ‘me’ time I ask myself as she doesn’t ask the question? Her focus is on family, husband, finances and finding a place for them to reset up their roots whilst all of their furniture and goods are in storage. We need to nurture her to ensure her mental health is as balanced as it can be and whilst she is doing these things the thing we can do is ease the financial burden as best we can.

What can I ask my friends to do for her? https://www.gofundme.com/n59ay9ck  this go to the page, read her story and donate. I know most of you give every year to charities, put the presents under the tress in churches and shopping centres. This year I’m asking you to go to this page and assist as every dollar will get them closer to having a bond and rent for when they can move out of the village as well as cover life expenses whilst Damien is in treatment.


When things create change in one’s life

Things on the farm have settled as the rains came, we have had 60 odd mils of glorious rain on our paddocks, and where there was sand and dirt we now have tinges of green, something we have not seen for a while now. The farmer is more settled and happier and the animals appear calmer, with rain comes cooler weather and animals prefer that. We have planted belts of native trees to grow and provide shade for them. We have water troughs that get checked daily and we are feeding out hay to supplement the lack of greenery in the paddocks.

With cooler temperatures comes cooler tempers, things that bother one in extreme heat don’t seem to do so in cooler weather. I have even hung washing on the line in rain as it cleanses everything even gives it a quick rain rinse. An old farming wives tail is to hang the heirloom family handed down by mother in law quilt on the line when it looks like rain so that it can continue. There is no heirloom quilt here – despite mother in law keeping everything, but I am happy to put sheets, towels, quilts & clothes on-line when it rains.

With the rain comes a sense of relief that one can see things change for the better, it may not seem like this to city dwellers as there isn’t the same need for rain except to fill rain water tanks and to water the gardens. lawns and parks. People in the city are not as greatly affected by heat and rain as country people. Most can get relief from heat and rain, here animals need checking more in extremes than ‘normal weather.’

Farming is very consuming and I am very conscious of the fact that I write about this more than anything else. We work together as a team and sometimes it’s difficult, I am not as capable as some men but I am better than most. I can drive all of the machinery on our property, I can lamb mark, cattle mark, muster, vaccinate, do the book work and also be lucky enough to have time for family and friends. It also can annoy me as it may not be what I want to do that day, in-fact I let the working dogs off this morning, many, Patsy & Mollie and they choose to come running to the back door than answer the farmers whistle, my sister said “don’t worry it’s Friday they are taking a mental health day.” So I gave them a bone and they were happy to be lying on the lawn chewing on them instead of tied to the back of the Ute in the sun.

I admire people who can live more remotely than us, have longer periods of drought and less rainfall than us. The mental strength of farmers and families is admirable, for me there is a small 3 hour drive to see family so I can justify going when I do leave, for those with longer drives it can be too much, not only financially (fuel costs, accommodation costs and time away from animals that need you) but can be visit limiting, making sure your time spent in the city is spent doing al the things you need to and catching up with very few.

My words today, enjoy the time you have, never take anything for granted and include all of those you want in you life the best way you know how, be that phone call, email, face book or twitter. There are so many more options to keep in contact these days than writing letters and waiting for a return. Make sure those you love, know you love them, make sure those you care about , are cared for and mostly be grateful for little things, simple things  such as rain, sunshine for we never know when this will change.

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Dogs on the Ute but not today, they are sleeping on the lawn.


Today is brought to you by the letter D (part 2)

This is one we all watch for and hate to have happen. There are plenty of them around and we need to be mindful we don’t add to the collective. In Farming we have dogs, dogs and more dogs, there are pets, then there are working dogs who know all of the swear words under the sun. They work for farmers and they are amazing when in action. We have dogs that we love and treat well.

Farming life brings many a thing starting with D but there are Days and I mean Days, where everything can go wrong and does and things can go right. I watch for the big one though, farming is challenging at the best of times and I love hearing people who have left the farm and moved to the city, where they have families close, jobs and children then make statements like “I would love to live back on the farm but” there is always a but… What I hear from women who leave the farm is, I am so glad we left, we have better schooling, don’t have to worry about not fitting into “the A group” , feeling isolated, having to drive 100’s kms a day and a regular income, wished we would have done it sooner”. Which is more realistic than anything.

Farming is also about watching for depression, the black dog that can creep in when the things go wrong or not the way one wants it to go. Most buyers of livestock except to get things a prices paid in 2009, butchers don’t want you to sell your produce in their area but won’t buy from you and cropper’s rely on commodity markets and the weather that also is non reliable. Farmers are the only producers in the world where they are expected to pay double for everything and companies resent them if they make a profit.

Had I known how hard it would be I don’t know that I would have chosen it, but I think it chose me. There are days where things can seem bleak and difficult and I watch for it, I think many a farming wife does. I assist where I can, lamb marking, calf marking, ear tagging, drafting, moving tractors and vehicles, book work, animal raising and in other aspects of the business so that it can take the pressure off. I also make arrangements to leave the property even if it is only 1 night so that there is a break in the month even though we both know we have to come back to the same same the next day.

I think caring for ones mental health is vital and also that of those who work on the land, it is rewarding as it is difficult. I ask are you okay most times he comes into the house not just so I can hear about his day but I can judge how he is going. Farmers have the highest suicide rate than any other occupation due to the stress, something I am very aware of. Something I hope doesn’t touch my life.

If you know a farmer, plan a holiday on their property, they love company and many have the best meat in their freezers that they will share with you. They find it hard to holiday and leave animals unattended. Ask them if they need help, buy the best meat or produce direct they will sell the best quality cheaper than you can get in supermarkets and feel flattered by your request. If they don’t have meat they will know someone who does. They are great educators, mechanics and are more than happy to assist, company is sometimes the best medicine, it will give you and your children a different view on life.



Keith Hospital & Politics

I have worked out I have had 1 meal this week with my DH (Dear Husband) as I have been in Adelaide and then had Keith Hospital Commitments and social functions all of this week I have 1 more to go and he is coming with me. One of the communities comments to me late last year was that here we all were raising awareness and funds and there was little presence at these fund-raising events by hospital representatives. This is more than a fair comment, it was an accurate one, so there has been movement within the hospital from nurses to join together to attend functions like last night.

Senator Nick Xenophon came to Keith to open our Art Exhibition “look on the bright side” pictures done by artists to raise awareness on mental health issues. Let me tell you if you are travelling past – you must come in to see it. The art works are astounding, all proceeds for the evening are going to the Keith Hospital. I was sitting on a table behind his with staff from the Keith Hospital.

He gave us a speech that was well worth listening to, he was charming, witty, articulate and poignant – something you should expect from a politician. We also got frank, honest and relevant issues to our community and SA as a whole. He spoke about Eugene McGee & Di Gilchrist-Humphries and the campaign he is mounting for the public to get behind it to “force John Rau” into getting a trial against him being allowed to continue practicing. Anyone who saw Australian story, will know how disgraceful this is, anyone who didn’t see it watch it. He talked about how our plight fo the Keith Hospital is still being talked about in the walls of Parliament House and how we have to keep going. He believes we need to keep the pressure on (we agree). He talked about how detested Kevin Rudd is by his own party and how he predicts that by October November the Labor party will be looking to replace Julia Gillard and Shorten is the tipped replacement. He talked about how disappointed he is in Julia, a person he studied with and how indecent it is that she does not keep any promises, how the carbon tax is outrageous and how land sales to overseas companies is about food security for their people not ours. He talked about how Julia dudded Andrew Wilkie’s pokies bill by asking Slipper to take the speakers seat so that the vote would not need Wilkie nor Xenophon to hold it up. His distaste for this action and Andrew Wilkie determination now to not support the Labor Government, but the bench has been stacked against them. This would be what one would expect from an independent you may say, he came as he helped our child care centre that closed to reopen and get a government grant to assist the families in having this vital service continue. He talked how Minister Kate Ellis was ‘shamed into doing something’.

He made no apologies, expect for correcting Wikipedia – he did NOT vote for the sale of ETSA under John Olsen, 2 Labor MP’s crossed the floor to get this legislation through. He took questions & answers and was gracious in his responses, what he did not talk about was the current Liberal party nor how we the Keith Community could win the battle to save Keith Hospital. We are like soldiers, we keep going to the front line to hold our position and that is what we are doing now. I was asked this morning ‘can I see the light at the end of the tunnel?” yes I can but I feel we are only half way there. This week amongst the craziness of my days I have been given an enormous gift. Fantastic Furniture have come to our aid and have donated a house full of furniture for our Doctors house, bedroom suites, office suite, lounge suite and Dining suite all for the price of a plaque on the door. This gift will now enable us to move our Doctors into the house – as we get it rent free and save the hospital approx $40,000 to $60,000 per year in B & B fees. There is light, there is generosity beyond words and then there is us, the hard-working people of Keith not unlike many others that work tirelessly for causes, beliefs and injustices. Keep up the good work everybody, our voices are not silent, our words are heard, our actions monitored, it will make a difference.

Now as for tonight’s quiz night to raise the funds for Keith Hospital, to all of you on my table, we are out their to win aren’t we……