THE appointment of a Rural Aid counsellor for the Bathurst region is a triumph of a community banding together in a difficult time.
The Black Tie And Boots Ball at Bathurst Goldfields back in August was a spectacular success and a credit to all involved – particularly organisers Grant and Chezzi Denyer.
Around 700 people packed the venue in a massive show of support for the region’s drought-affected farmers and the money raised on the night has gone directly towards funding the new counsellor.
Zoe Cox has hit the ground running and will be getting out and about meeting local farmers and their families, doing her best to put them in contact with appropriate services.
And even if a farming family is not yet at the stage of needing to access help, Ms Cox will be available just to have a cuppa and chat which will provide some benefit as well.
Because one of the greatest challenges for any farmer is the necessity to keep up with the day-to-day grind of their work even once the bright spotlight of public attention has moved on.
The Bathurst region has received reasonable rain since the Black Tie And Boots Balls in August and that can have the unwitting effect of making it appear the worst of the drought is over.
There is now a green tinge across the region that we did not see throughout all of winter but any landholder will tell you this is really just a superficial change.
None of the region’s dams are full and as we head into summer, the medium-term outlook remains bleak.
But Ms Cox believes she is up to the job, bringing to the role not only her counselling experience but also a good knowledge of the region.
“A bonus of the choice of myself, not only do I have the counselling expertise … and I’ve worked with families, so couples, individuals and their children, that’s my area of expertise, but I also grew up in this area, about an hour east of here on a farm,” she said.
“So I also have the rural experience and I do feel that I can empathise with the everyday farmer, having grown up on the land, having farmers in my family.”
We wish her nothing but the best. She will not be able to perform miracles for our farmers, but just being there will be a start.
And the fact she will be there at all is the broader Bathurst community’s gift to our region’s drought-affected farmers.