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Our Story

The Need

Rural Queenslanders are a rare breed. They are tough, resilient and incredibly resourceful. But in recent years a ‘perfect storm’ of circumstances have overtaken many now-battling primary producers. Unexpected cyclones and bushfires, some poorly conceived political decisions and years of relentless drought have built upon the regular challenges of isolation to bring many families to the brink: financially, socially and emotionally. Over 79% of Queensland is drought-declared with the driest season on record in parts of the State. Financial impact, poor livestock markets and dry conditions mean that many are calling this the worst drought in history.

In 2011, the unique opportunity was created for a Brisbane psychologist, Selena Gomersall, to offer intensive counsel and support to a group of about 30 women from the Etheridge Shire in Far North Queensland (FNQ). An alarming picture emerged from these capable people facing overwhelming odds. Not surprisingly, there was significant evidence of moderate to severe mental health concerns impacting many individuals, families and whole communities.

Support and resources available to these families is not meeting the need. Male Queensland farmers are committing suicide at more than double the rate of the national average. The tyranny of distance creates a deficiency of physical support, allied-health support, emotional support and general practical resources. The combination of low rainfall and high temperatures has created the most severe drought conditions in parts of Queensland ever recorded.

The Response

Outback Futures is a response to this huge need and service deficit identified in remote FNQ in terms of allied health and social/emotional issues. Outback Futures is ultimately about building self-efficacy in the bush, assisting rural Australians to find their collective voice by renewing hope, strengthening resilience and assisting in the building of community. Outback Futures is unique in two key ways. Relationships with local families are our priority, being established through long-term volunteer work in social development programs like SU Queensland’s Camp Cobbold. Secondly, Outback Futures operates with a unique bush/city infrastructure committed to a bush-informed agenda.

Our Allied Health Clinics (involving a full range of allied and mental health services) and Mini-Clinics (involving a smaller number of practitioners) are increasingly being invited to strategically attach to existing FNQ events offering information and services on location over several days with ongoing interim phone and Skype sessions following the clinics.

The Next Phase

The next phase of service delivery is being provided in the form of ongoing Mobile Allied Health Clinics and Mini-Clinics. This will be supported through our “Stay with Me” program, which provides ongoing counselling and allied health consultations via phone or Skype to ensure continuity of care. To make a donation, visit our donations page.

©2014 Outback Futures