Christmas events help to unite rural communities across the State

Dorothy HendersonCountryman
Emily Mollett, 12, and Richard Henderson, 10, enjoying the cool Esperance weather while spreading Christmas cheer.
Camera IconEmily Mollett, 12, and Richard Henderson, 10, enjoying the cool Esperance weather while spreading Christmas cheer. Credit: Dorothy Henderson

While harvest may still be dominating the lives of many across the State, the annual rounds of school concerts, carol singing and Christmas events ensure there is the chance for social interaction away from the CBH site and chaser bin.

In between stints on the chaser bin, Munglinup farmer Marnie Lawrence was one of those responsible for organising the annual Christmas carols.

The Sounds of the Season event is held at the St Paul’s Church in the town west of Esperance, and signifies the start of the festive season for many people in the area, including the Cascade, Jerdacuttup and Munglinup communities.

Still on the chaser bin this week, Mrs Lawrence said such events helped to ensure the community got together, even when it was busy. “We need such community gatherings to enable us to debrief, to make contact with one another and remind us that we are not isolated and alone,” she said.

“We are already isolated in a physical sense, but we don’t need to feel alone.”

She said the “act, belong, commit” strategy that was inherent in such events ensured communities like Munglinup remained healthy and strong.

Even though the organisation of such events added to the workload of those already dealing with a range of end-of-season commitments, Mrs Lawrence said the whole community got together to make them happen and they were always worthwhile.

In the case of the carols, it was a treat for the community to enjoy the music of the Esperance Citizens’ Band, which made its annual pilgrimage to the townsite to accompany the singers.

“To see everyone smiling and singing, to hear the children doing their readings and practising public speaking in the perfect place for them to learn to, with their peers in their own community ... these are the things that make it worthwhile,” Mrs Lawrence said.

It requires some effort to balance the commitments of life in rural WA in the lead up to the festive season, and farmers have been warned to take care in the workplace to ensure they enjoy their Christmas break — however short it may be.

WorkSafe Victoria recently revealed that workers were much more likely to die in November and December than at any other time of the year, a revelation that has served as a timely warning.

In Victoria, it was found that almost 25 per cent of all workplace fatalities occurred in November and December.

WorkSafe health and safety executive director Marnie Williams said in agriculture, with end-of-season deadlines on the minds of farmers, the focus should remain on safety.

“We are asking everyone to think about safety. Don’t become a Christmas statistic. For the sake of your family and friends, make workplace safety your number one priority,” she said.

“People should be looking forward to Christmas with their families, not witnessing a tragedy or attending a workmate’s funeral.”

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