5 August 2022

Why helping those in need should simply be a given

| Sally Hopman
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cute dog

Clearly gratuitous use of a photo of the author’s dog, Mickey. Why? There is a mention of rescue dogs – Mickey once being one – in the 29th line. (Yes, there is also a mention of dogs’ dangly bits but we didn’t want to make Mickey blush). Photo: Anonymous owner of Mickey.

Have you noticed how much money has been spread around town lately? We’re talking a Vegemite on butter on white bread sort of distribution.

Yes, there was a Budget in Canberra where lots of money was allocated to things that needed it, like hospitals. Then there was the general disappointment that there was no money, again, for an ice skating rink, in Canberra, where for a couple of months a year, we are our own ice skating rink without even trying.

There was also no money again, for a combination international standard concert hall/sports arena/indoor outdoor space station. Shameful. Has this territory no rights?

But what really stood out like a dog’s dangly bit was in neighbouring NSW country areas where about 45 million worthy community groups vied for about $17 in grants. OK, a slight exaggeration here – maybe not 45 million but jolly close.

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In a village not a million miles from Canberra, a village which has no hospital, a doctor who works a maximum two days a week, in a good week, and is at least an hour’s drive to the closest saving-lives-sort-of medical centre, $6500 was granted for a whiteboard – albeit a moveable whiteboard – for the community health centre.

Not for a part-time nurse, or one of those machines that you hang on the wall till you need it to save your life and it does so, with a switch of a button?

Perhaps the moveable whiteboard can take temperatures or perform heart surgery? Let’s hope so.

The same community secured a “house” for its grand piano. Such a project is simply music to these ears.

The local wind farms regularly provide grants to the communities they’re erected in. There’s some excellent work being done here: like money for the pony club, helpfully saddling it with less debt and more safety gear than it can jump over. Or new doors for a community hall, seriously helpful for getting in and out, along with improved access for disabled folk at a rural reserve. There’s no way they can actually access the reserve unless someone takes them there, but it’s good to know that if they ever get there, it will be nice and flat for them to wheel about on.

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If it were up to me, which it should never, ever be, I’d spend the money on simple things like world peace, rescuing dogs and trying to find out Bob Dylan’s home address and not necessarily in that order. In fact, definitely not in that order. Bob’s like a rolling stone, hardly ever at home.

But it looks like at least one group has got it right. It’s one of the smaller ones but it seems to have its finger right on the community’s pulse/purse. It’s the Lions Club of Gunning which, quite regularly, and quietly, gives the money it raises from selling good useful things like cakes and firewood, to things or people who actually need it. Really random stuff like food for hungry people, clothes for those who don’t have any, books for kids – who knew this sort of thing could help?

But because there’s never enough to go around and the fact there will always be rescue dogs that need homes, good folk will continue to bake, make and fake that everything is OK and that money will actually go to where it is most needed.

So it’s back to one of those stuffy little kiosks, on the corner of most main streets in country towns, where volunteers, usually on Saturday mornings, sell stuff they’ve made to people who probably don’t want it but feel bad if they don’t buy it – and feel better if they do.

Bless ’em.

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