The power of the human voice

MY ELDERLY mother was a sociable soul and loved nothing better than a good chat.

She lived independently until she was 94, and bustled round the village keeping active and ensuring her neighbours were also alive and well.

This could require a peek to check if the front curtains were open or a knock on the door for a cuppa.

Often a quick phone call would suffice.

Some days the social round didn’t happen.

Mum might decide to stay indoors and “scratch around” restlessly for something to do, or gaze out of the window, hoping that someone would pop by or give her a call.

The day would drag, her spirits would sag and her world would shrink.

By 6pm she would reach out and dial my number.

“I just wanted to hear a human voice,” she would say querulously.

We’d have a little chat and usually end up having a laugh.

I confess I was not always as sympathetic as I should have been – I had been listening to human voices all day at work, and craved exactly what my mother couldn’t deal with – silence and solitude.

I have since had a taste of how she felt.

And it isn’t nice.

And it is not just the elderly and vulnerable who experience this sense of isolation at times; sadly, it is becoming an increasingly widespread social problem.

But why is it so important to interact with our fellow human beings?

Many of us lead busy lives, but that should never be an excuse not to connect with another human being, regardless of age.

It also basically comes back to what makes us tick, and understanding the basic desires that help us thrive within our community.

We all have a basic need to connect with another person, whether as a giver or recipient of some attention, a smile, a hug or a kind word.

We all desire to be taken seriously, which means we need to be noticed, accepted, appreciated and valued – perhaps even be remembered.

This is why listeners are so important – when they give you their undivided attention, they reinforce your value as a person.

We need to feel useful, and to have a purpose in life, along with emotional stability and the security of knowing we are accepted and valued in groups we belong to.

We all desire to be loved and to love.

This is something that can bring out the very best in us and foster a generosity of spirit.

We also thrive on unpredictable situations, which can encourage us to perform rewarding acts of kindness and develop our capacity for empathy.

This also gives us added momentum to surprise someone who “just needs to hear a human voice” by giving them a call, dropping by for a chat and listening to what they say.

It’s worth every moment.

I know.

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Country music pioneer farewelled

THE man who mentored generations of young country singers such as Troy Cassar-Daley was laid to rest in Denmark last week.

Members of Denmark Country Music Club farewelled Rick Carey and interred his ashes with those of his wife Thel following his death late last month.

Originally from Sydney, Rick and Thel had settled on a property in Denmark in 1988 after 30 years touring remote Aboriginal communities, country rodeos and agricultural halls throughout rural Australia.

After Thel’s death in 1998, Rick said he would hang up his guitar, but soon afterwards Sid Hewitt and Doreen Ostigh asked him to help start a regular musical gathering in Mr Hewitt’s shed.

This became the Denmark Country Music Club.

Club publicity officer Cathy Clark said they then formally asked Rick to become patron of the club in 2001, and he attended Slim Dusty’s funeral as its representative in 2004.

Rick moved to Brisbane in 2005 to live with his daughter Lynne, but remained the club’s patron and returned several times.

“I think Dad would have enjoyed everything we did for his memorial,” Lynne said.

“All of us were able to meet up with family and friends who managed to come to the service, even with such short notice.”

Lynne said the Aboriginal singer-songwriters Kevin Gunn and Francis Cox, who both toured with her parents, made the long journey from the Kimberley for the funeral.

Mal Russel, who also toured with the show, acted as MC.

“Unfortunately the journey was somewhat rushed and we all would have liked to have spent more time there, especially since one of my sons, his partner and their three sons live in Albany,” she said.

“Nonetheless it was wonderful to spend the time we did and it was nice to be able to lay Dad to rest with Mum according to his wishes.”

The Denmark Country Music Club’s recent dance with band Campfire Country was a tribute to Mr Carey and life member Jean Brenton, who passed away a few days earlier in Perth.

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Season of giving

ALBANY’S branch of Soroptimist International has been very busy donating to local community groups this year.

The global volunteer organisation helps girls and women access human rights and resources.

The Albany branch has donated $700 to the Albany Public Library to purchase a new nursing chair for the junior library.

Mother of two Caryn McWhirter is one of many parents who have experienced difficulty feeding and changing children in public spaces, and she appreciates the Albany Public Library’s safe space and new resources.

“We are so grateful to Soroptimist for this funding,” Ms McWhirter said.

“It will help make breastfeeding so much easier.”

The new nursing chair will be purchased in time for the completion of the Albany Tourism and Information Hub in early 2018.

Soroptimist International Albany has also contributed to Albany’s Foodbank branch by running a Christmas in July food donation drive, which raised 113kg of food, enough for 226 meals.

“We noticed Foodbank was low for winter, so we decided to have a Christmas in July as well as our annual December collection,” SI Albany member Deb Symes said.

Foodbank Albany branch manager Rod Pfieffer said he appreciated the donations and encouraged the Albany public to continue helping those in need.

“It is a constant struggle to maintain the variety of food and products we need at Foodbank, so the community’s contributions are always a great help,” Mr Pfieffer said.

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Celebrations for Bulldogs

GNOWANGERUP Football Club will be celebrating 100 years since their first official season in 1917 on August 19.

To celebrate the occasion, the club will be playing their final game for the season and will use the end-of-season wrap-up as the big shindig.

During the league game against Newdegate, an oval-side bar and marquee will be available to players both past and present as well as club sponsors.

Club president Lachlan Lewis said the night will be a chance for old players to reminisce about the old days, and for locals to celebrate their club’s history.

“It’s a pretty special occasion to celebrate,” he said.

“We’ve had heaps of calls this year about the centenary, and we hope this will live up to the excitement.

“We’ve had heaps of interest from past players, so it’ll be a great opportunity to have a reunion of sorts.”

Plenty of old GFC memorabilia will be on display, as well as a helmsman style auction for 25 centenary jumpers that the club has been wearing this season.

The club will be catering for all generations on the night, with Perth band HUGE performing as well.

GFC would like to urge Gnowangerup locals to attend the celebration.

Additional information is available on their Facebook page.

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Community digs deep for family

THE Great Southern community has rallied behind the family of much-loved North Albany Football Club member Paul Barnett, who died suddenly on July 22.

A gofundme page setup by a family friend has raised more than $9000 for Mr Barnett’s wife Tara and their young son Harry, giving them time to grieve their loss without the burden of financial hardship.

Mrs Barnett said she was overwhelmed by the outpouring of community and family support.

“It’s absolutely amazing how much the community has come together for us,” she said.

“It’s shocked me, but I’m just so grateful and I want to thank everyone for helping me and Harry.

“The Albany community is big and wonderful, and I can’t say thank you enough.

“The money will not only help us for the next few months, but will also provide Harry with everything he’ll need for school.”

With permission from Mrs Barnett, family friend Sonya Aylmore set up the page for the community to donate money to.

“Tara and I have been working together for around two years,” Ms Aylmore said.

“I’m really close with Tara, and from her I really got to know Paul and Harry.

“After Paul passed away, the girls in the office were going to get her flowers, but we decided to put in a little cash instead.

“I opened the gofundme page and the amount of community support has been amazing.”

At last count the page had raised nearly $10,000 for the family, with many donators leaving their condolences on the page.

“I was reading through them, and there was so many names I didn’t know who donated,” Ms Aylmore said.

“I’m proud to call Albany home.”

Following Mr Barnett’s funeral last Friday, Mrs Barnett and Harry said they will remember Paul as an active man who loved his family and also loved to read the newspaper.

“In the morning, Paul would read the paper; it would drive me nuts sometimes,” she said.

“I hate bad news, so he would always read the good news to me.”

Mrs Barnett said Paul also loved to take Harry out for a ride.

“He would always take Harry out on his bike; it was their thing to do,” she said.

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Shire seeks five new faces

DENMARK Shire will now be looking for five new councillors at the October local government elections following the decision this week of Cr Yasmin Bartlett to resign mid-term.

Cr Bartlett’s resignation is effective from October 20, the day before election day, saving the Shire the cost of a separate extraordinary election.

Cr Bartlett said she was resigning for work and personal reasons.

“It has been a wonderful experience to serve the community as a councillor over the past two years and I will miss working with my fellow councillors and the dedicated employees at the Shire,” she said.

“The decision to resign mid-term was not an easy one, but one that best reflects my personal circumstances.”

She is the fifth councillor to resign since her election to represent Scotsdale/Shadforth ward in October 2015.

Shire chief executive officer Bill Parker thanked Cr Bartlett for her contribution.

“Since her election to council in 2015, Cr Bartlett has worked tirelessly and represented the community on a broad range of committees and working groups,” he said.

“Yasmin was a strong advocate for improving compliance across the integrated planning and reporting framework and was central to council’s decision to dedicate significant resources in this area.

“I wish Yasmin the very best with her future endeavours and thank her for her service to the community.”

Cr Bartlett has served council’s Seniors Advisory Committee, Denmark Tidy Towns Committee and the Great Southern Recreation Advisory Group.

The 2017 local government elections will be held on Saturday October 21 to fill five vacancies across the Kent/Nornalup, Scotsdale/Shadforth and Town wards.

Nominations open on September 7 and interested community members may obtain the ‘Thinking of Becoming a Councillor’ information pack on the Shire’s website.

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Help for gaming addicts

THE WA Department of Communities has awarded Great Southern Employment Development Committee (GSEDC) support to deliver an innovative program aimed at assisting youth with video gaming addictions.

Get Your Game Off is a 45-minute interactive and educational information program for 10 to 18 year olds.

The objective of the fully-funded session is to help young people understand how and why video gaming can be addictive and its effects on relationships and school work.

Get Your Game Off sessions will be followed by free access to youth support group Zombie Gamers Anonymous, where gaming addicts can monitor each other’s progress and support one another.

“The issue of how destructive gaming can be is a sleeper in communities,” GSEDC Executive Officer Janelle Price said.

“It has not been diagnosed as a clinical disorder quite yet, but shows all the hallmarks of other destructive additive disorders.”

The program was instigated by a young gamer who recognised that gaming was having a negative impact on her life and her sleep.

Get Your Game Off sessions will be delivered in late August to mid- September and again in the fourth school term.

Primary and secondary schools can host Get Your Game Off sessions and after-school support group Zombie Gamers Anonymous by booking with GSEDC.

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Swags and bags for town sleep out

THIS year’s Sleep Out event in the Albany Town Square on August 10 will be used to raise vital funds to provide the most basic shelter for homeless people in the Great Southern.

The event is one of the major fundraisers during National Homelessness Week, and members from the Albany Youth Support Association, Albany Public Library and the City of Albany will be amongst others sleeping “rough” for a night.

Commencing at 5pm, community members are asked to experience what 1 in 200 Australians experience every night, by sleeping outdoors in tents, swags and sleeping bags.

This event will provide a fundraising opportunity for the purchase of additional ‘backpack beds’, to be distributed throughout Great Southern homelessness services.

Albany Youth Support Association has been providing youth homelessness services for more than 30 years.
“We have a unique responsibility in the Great Southern community in providing crisis accommodation support, early intervention and long-term transitions for young people moving out of homelessness,” AYSA CEO Rick England said.

“People often ask, is there homelessness in the Great Southern?

“With 60 per cent of rough sleepers outside major cities, 40 per cent of couch surfers in country towns and 55% per cent of people sleeping in severely overcrowded dwellings also in rural locations, the answer is yes.

“42% of the homeless population are under 25 years of age, and when we consider the long- term impact of this on the next generation, the cost to our society, it is very significant.

“As member of this community, I am interested in making homelessness history.”

This year’s Sleep Out event will include entertainment and community activities for all ages, including access to the library.

Monetary donations to Homelessness Week and funds for whole backpack beds can be processed via the Paperbark Merchants website at paperbarks.

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Library’s Rhyme-Time wish granted

THE Albany Public Library has won a $1000 grant from the Better Beginnings Social Return on Investment evaluation to buy more Story Time and Rhyme Time re- sources.

Youth services librarian Dora Adeline was grateful for the additional funding, as it allowed the library to receive new toys and musical instruments for toddlers and babies from the State Library of WA.

“We are very excited to receive our brand-new resources,” Ms Adeline said.

“These resources for Rhyme Time and Story Time are really important for early engagement in young children, particularly for brain development, social skills and developing literacy skills.

“75 per cent of brain development occurs in the first three years of a child’s life, so we are always encouraging families to read and sing together.”

The Albany Public Library Rhyme Time sessions are at 10.30am on Wednesday and Friday mornings, run for 20 minutes, and are suitable for boys and girls aged up to six years of age.

These sessions are completely free and do not require prior booking.

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Discounted fees for Anzac centre

ALBANY residents have been encouraged to visit the National Anzac Centre with a free membership program and discounted admission fees.

The National Anzac Centre League of Local Legends will be free to join, but only available to community members that reside within the municipal boundary of the City of Albany or to City of Albany ratepayers.

Members of the program will receive a significant discount of 50 per cent on standard admission prices or can enter for free if they are accompanying a paying visitor.

If they do accompany a paying visitor, that paying visitor will also receive a 10 per cent discount.

Albany Heritage Park manager Matt Hammond said a core part of the program will be an increase in events and programming at Albany Heritage Park, with members being the first to be notified about special events and school holiday programs.

“The National Anzac Centre is fast becoming recognised as a cultural pilgrimage of national significance, and we want to provide the local community with every opportunity to experience this and be proud of Albany’s connection to the Anzac legend,” Mr Hammond said.

“The National Anzac Centre precinct and surrounding Albany Heritage Park should be a space for the local community to meet, recreate, socialise and enjoy, just like the role Kings Park plays for local communities in Perth.

“We hope the program will provide a foundation for increasing local engagement with what is fast becoming a national icon.”

Other benefits of the membership program include a 10 per cent discount at the Forts Store Boutique, special offers at Garrison Restaurant and free member events.

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