By GIVIT’s Head of Communication, Kayla:

I have no idea how to start this, I’m not even sure what I’m trying to say. But I can’t think of anything else… I can’t do anything else… until it’s been said.

This is an opinion piece, my opinion. The thoughts that have continued to swirl round and round my mind regarding our current drought appeal for Georgetown in Far North Queensland.

A few weeks ago we received an email from a local charity letting us know that slow internet speeds in the area mean some families living on remote properties are unable to meet obligations for distance education and are instead needing to drive their children long distances (two to three hours) to school.

After years of crippling drought, these added fuel costs are stretching already maxed budgets, and many families simply can’t afford it. The children can’t get to school.

We’ve since continued to hear stories about the devastating situation these families are in and the challenges they face: huge debt, starving cattle, endless despair, no income, no food, businesses they’ve worked a lifetime to build crumbling under them. And now, children who can’t receive an education.

Yesterday I received an email about one family and stared at my computer screen for minutes in disbelief – processing the horrific situation they’re enduring.

It kept playing on my mind and last night over dinner I shared these stories with my partner Lee, a third-generation cattle farmer, and he listened to me in despair. What can we do? How can we feel okay when there’s so many others who don’t? We looked outside over the green grass hills out at the fat, happy cows and saw the privileges someone else is searching so desperately for.

When I looked at him I knew that if we choose to have children one day, despite the many struggles we may face, no education won’t be one of them. I won’t have to worry about if my children can get to school. I’m not going to have to wake up and tell them that mummy and daddy just can’t afford it today, we can’t fill up the car. They can’t see their friends or teachers, hand in their assessment, attend sports day, the school excursion or learn about that subject they’re so interested in. I’m not going to have to go to sleep at night devastated because this situation is affecting their future.

I’m not going to wake up the next day and open an empty fridge, wondering how I’m going to feed my family. I’m not going to have to stress about using my underwear for fear of them becoming old and worn when I don’t have money for a replacement. I’m not going to know I can’t get my children to the doctors when they’re sick, that I won’t be able to buy sanitary items during my next period and be forced to use rags. I’m not going to watch my husband leave for work every single day knowing he can’t help us.

Now, as I sit here in an office with electricity, a flushing toilet, clean water and internet I feel devastated there are others who don’t have this. As our General Manager, Marcus, said “it breaks my heart to think I’m about to go and eat a nice lunch and someone else can’t.”

What are we going to do? How are we going to help? GIVIT is a charity for charities right? Can’t we do more? I’m angry, I’m frustrated and devastated… but I’m hopeful. I’m hopeful because I know GIVIT can help. We are their chance.

We are the national voice for these 70 families. We are the portal spreading the plights of these vulnerable people to the 23 million others Australians who can help. We are that connection.

We can’t change the internet speeds but we can give these families the chance to feel hope, kindness and connection. We can get the children to school, we can give the dad new underwear and we can provide food vouchers so mum can fill the fridge for the first time in years. We can let them know that they are not alone and someone else cares. Maybe we can even save a life.

I think about you, reading this, and wonder what you’re thinking. Is this pulling you like it does me? Is it breaking your heart? Are you driven to help? Will you?

At GIVIT we don’t often request donated funds. In fact, we try incredibly hard not to. Money is valuable – we all need our own. But right now, it’s very likely someone else needs it more than you. If you want to help please visit our website and click ‘Drought Relief’ in the dropdown box. You can even put ‘Georgetown’ in the comments. I am proud to say every single cent of that money will go straight to purchasing vouchers for locally these families.

Every time we get a Drought Relief donation the team cheers, a difference is being made. There’s a long way to go, but imagine the impact we could have if we all gave a $50 fuel voucher!!

I recently had the honour of being a keynote speaker at the Queensland Disability Conference and spent a wonderful 40 minutes describing GIVIT’s journey, my journey and our values. I was talking to a room full of caring people who were disability service providers, social workers and carers, many of whom are in desperate need of support.

Firstly, I spoke about how service providers use GIVIT while doing the hard, hard work of ensuring our most vulnerable receive the care they need. It is such an important job in our society, and it is all about to be affected by the NDIS rollout – a change which seems to be very welcome.

Then, I spoke about GIVIT’s values, my values and why we do the work we do… more specifically why all social workers do the work they do. I also mentioned how our industry is plagued by unspoken truths about compassion fatigue, burnout and mostly thankless work. I emphasized that it is important we all get through these periods by staying connected to our original values of why we became involved in this work in the first place.

Remember why you started.

I concluded the speech with a plea which I want to share with you all today. A plea and call to action for all service providers… LET US BE INVOLVED and LET US BE CONNECTED… especially to your client.

Let us, everyday Australians, connect to your cause and empower us to help.

You are the only one who can let us know what’s going on. The only one who knows the true need. The only one letting us connect to some of our most marginalised Australians so we can understand how to best get involved in improving their lives (while ensuring their privacy in all matters).

What I know is that social workers and carers are on the cold-face of our vulnerable communities. If they don’t communicate the needs of the sector to the wider public (via mechanisms like GIVIT) we cannot be involved… and we really, really want to be!

A recent survey showed 97% of items requested by social workers and charities through GIVIT are donated by generous Australians. We know people want to give, and that they love positively impacting someone’s, albeit a strangers, life.

I feel that when we give, we feel connected to our community. When we are connected, it improves our feeling of contribution and also our personal well being. I beg, BEG, BEG social workers to let us know what all our vulnerable need and then maybe we can make your and their life a little easier. We can also let them know they are not alone.

If you work directly with someone who is vulnerable please register to let us know what you need to make your job easier, and what your client needs to make their life easier!

It isn’t just vulnerable individuals that need support but those selfless, compassionate, caring and sensitive carers that work with them every day.

blog 1