International Day Of Rural Women | Marathon Health
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Our people Aboriginal health Posted: 13 October 2022

International Day of Rural Women

The area in which we live is flat, red and wonderful. The ewes have just started lambing and the farmer I fell in love with is gearing up to harvest his crops. As I look outside the kitchen window it is the vast space between paddocks and neighbours that makes me feel isolated. I remember to breathe, and I look to the sky and whisper kind words to the nimbus clouds that dot the big blue above. As they float by, I say to them “please let it be a good season,” they pass by without an answer.

These little whispers of hope are sung in unison all over the world today, on International Day of Rural Women – a day that celebrates the essential role rural women play in the community and strengthening economies. And yet, inequalities in location and access to services means that sometimes the struggles rural women face, are forgotten behind their urban counterparts.

Rural Australian women often face challenges that vary from mouse plagues, drought, floods, feelings of isolation, loneliness, and experiencing poor mental health. They also have poorer access to timely health services – with research showing less presentations to their GPs, higher mental health concerns and worryingly, being 24 times more likely to be hospitalised for domestic violence compared to those living in major cities.

As an organisation with over 80% of staff identifying as women, we acknowledge and know all too well, the hardships that rural women face. We work hard to close those gaps in healthcare access, providing mental health, NDIS, allied health, and specialist support across Western, Southern and Northern NSW.

Living rurally, it’s not uncommon to feel isolated and alone – which is why reaching out for support is so important. Recently a young mother reached out to our mental health program Strong Minds Western (SMW), feeling overwhelmed with her new role as a mum, and facing low moods. Working with a mental health clinician she learned the tools she needed to cope and recognised the dangers of ‘bottling up’ her emotions. Deborah Baker, SMW clinician said that she often speaks to rural women who “feel alone and like they are drowning.”

As rural women, although lucky enough to enjoy the wide-open spaces and beauty that rural Australia offers, the feeling of drowning and isolation can also be too real. It can be because of the inability to quickly pop to the shops, ring a friend because there is no phone reception, or not being able get to town because the creeks are up. It can be travelling great distances to get to the office, not being able to see friends and family as often as you like, and the all too real stress of living on the land. All these aspects that involve living in rural Australia, can have detrimental effects on our physical and mental health.

So, it’s programs like SMW that make us proud to be a part of healthcare in country Australia – knowing we’re trying all we can to support country women. And it is days like these when we know we’ve supported someone, that we too sing in unison to the clouds above and hope for a good season for all.

If you or anyone you know is feeling lonely, isolated, or experiencing symptoms of poor mental health, don’t ‘bottle it up’, support is always available.

Page last updated: 17 November 2023

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