Community gatherings at Pikedale are vital

Gatherings give people the opportunity to come together and support each other


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Social and emotional well-being is an important funding initiative.

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John Pratt, Tollando, Stanthorpe said community gatherings such as the regular events the Pikedale community hold is important to keep the conversation happening and no-one feels alone. Picture: Helen Walker.

John Pratt, Tollando, Stanthorpe said community gatherings such as the regular events the Pikedale community hold is important to keep the conversation happening and no-one feels alone. Picture: Helen Walker.

Pikedale District Community Gathering was established in September 2016 as a community group with a purpose to meet on a regular basis.

As there had been quite a few properties change hands in recent years, these gathering were were initially used as a vehicle to introduce new people to the wider community and held every six weeks at local woolsheds, machinery sheds, and packing sheds across the region for everyone to enjoy a barbecue together.

Group spokesperson, John Pratt, Tollando, Stanthorpe, said as the drought intensified, the gatherings have now given people the opportunity to come together and support each other.

"The workload of all producers in the area has increased greatly due to drought feeding and daily water monitoring," he said.

"There is an added extra financial and mental stress on families and these gatherings have given everyone something to look forward to and are vital.

"At these events, everyone has a chance to share their ideas and grievances which is very helpful and leaves producers with a feeling of not being alone."

In 2019, the gatherings have been financially funded by Darling Downs and West Moreton Primary Health Care and attendance numbers has increased to an average of 65 people.

According to its chief executive officer Merrilyn Strohfeldt it is one of one of six Primary Health Networks to receive funding at the end of 2018 under the Australian Government's Empowering our Communities (EoC) Initiative.

"The focus of this initiative is to support drought affected communities through funding community-led, mental health, suicide prevention, and social and emotional wellbeing initiatives, she said."

"It has been really encouraging to watch our regional communities affected by drought come together to support one another.

"We know that stigma can be a real deterrent for people living in rural communities to seek assistance, and that often local, trusted individuals can provide a safe gateway to care.

"Initiatives such as the community-led events and the Community Connections Program enables these communities to build resilience and support within their own networks that will last for years to come."

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