Helen's Drought Story
My story of living through droughts and taking action on climate change has recently been published in the the compilation “My Drought Story”. This has been made possible by the Rural Leadership Foundation Drought Resilience Leadership Course and the Rural Adversity Mental Health Program.
I was virtually the only person to acknowledge climate change amongst the stories shared in the program, including how advocating for stronger climate action has helped me to build mental resilience. I'm so glad I can share my story with others and give voice to the ‘bigger picture’.
This is my story -
My Dad always said I was born in a drought, I was married in a drought and had my 2 babies in a drought. So I am not unused to drought in my lifetime. However, the 2 worst droughts in living memory have occurred in my lifetime in just the last 20 years. They are getting longer and closer together and more devastating.
The never ending days of searing heat, the extreme water restrictions and endless buckets of saved water from every tap we turned on trying to keep trees alive is never far from my memory. Having two toddlers who love to run and be outside - cooped up unable to play due to the heat outside. ‘Stealing’ a little bit of water for them to splash in shell pool to cool off. Trying not run our evaporative air conditioner to help save water for the town almost sent me mad.
It was during this last worst drought in living memory I began to learn about climate change. The overwhelming evidence of more intense droughts, longer heatwaves and higher temperatures all beyond the ‘normal cycle’.
As a kid growing up on a beef cattle property I relished the great outdoors, the creeks running through our property and the sense of freedom living in the country gives. This new knowledge I had almost totally described a life different for my children.
Tamworth Parents and Friends for Climate Action gave me some room to breathe. Active hope gave me courage to speak up when it felt like I was powerless to do anything. I have done things I never thought I would being a small town country girl. Things like organise protests and rallies, write letters to the editor, ask to meet with politicians and local government, felt vulnerable and exposed for asking for greater climate action and a credible, meaningful plan to protect our waters, lands and skies. For my children’s future I would still do so much more.
Now that the rain has returned and there is space to think and more garden and vegies to grow those connections I made during the drought hold firm. Resilience lies in community strength and the bonds formed from adversity and increased awareness are hard to break. Now Caring for Country and watching the landscape restored with water and abundance fills you with joy and with renewed determination to see it protected.
You're not alone in standing up for climate action and a safe future for our children. You can find support and active hope just like I did - join a local action group here.