“Not for ourselves alone are we born.” Cicero
When shooting segments for The Project, I’m constantly reminded that the places I get to travel to and the people I’m privileged to meet, provide a unique opportunity to appreciate the stories of those who are driven to help and support others.
Recently, I was in a small farming town around three hours drive from Port Lincoln in South Australia.
Growing up in Yaninee, Brock Wilkins wasn’t sure of what he wanted to do with his life, but at the age of 16, after encouragement from his parents and a family friend he decided to enter a school-based apprenticeship in aged care, working at the local Hospice in Wudinna. At such a young age it’s been a transformative experience for him. As he explains in his winning Heywire story (An ABC regional story competition) some of the biggest challenges haven’t so much been in dealing with the maturity required from the role, but in the lack of maturity expressed by others who question his choice.
Brock decided not to go to boarding school in Adelaide like many of his friends, but to stay in Yaninee and finish his Aged Care apprenticeship where his personality and genuine concern for the residents has won him respect and accolades of his co-workers and the community.
Watching Brock at work it’s heartening to see someone so young with such a commitment to caring for others. With his apprenticeship coming to an end Brock has made the decision to study nursing next year in Adelaide. Read Brock’s original Heywire story and a piece in the local news on his efforts.
A week later saw me back in Adelaide and setting up at Blackwell Funerals for a story that takes a closer look at the ‘business of death’.
While Michelle had never been squeamish about death, it was refreshing to hear her talk about why she decided to enter the field and how important it was for her to provide a service to the deceased and that person’s family at a crucial time. I don’t think many people would consider being an embalmer as a service role but for Michelle, and I suspect for many in the funeral business, it really is the final act of kindness.
That same week we also covered the story of The Welcome Centre: an Adelaide based volunteer community service organisation set up to support asylum-seekers. With the change in Government, $11.5 million was suddenly cut from the Commonwealth grants scheme (a program launched by the former Labor government, aimed to provide one-off funding to community groups and local government bodies working to promote and foster social cohesion). Initially allocated $160,000 towards services such as supplying food, furniture and English lessons for asylum-seekers on bridging visas, the Centre received notification from the Department of Social Services that the offer of financial assistance had been withdrawn.
It’s extremely difficult to hear the stories of those people and families who are struggling to make a new life, facing further and compounding stress as promised funding is pulled from underneath them.
To learn more about the Welcome Centre and keep up with their work head over to the Welcome to Australia website , or check out the Welcome Centre’s facebook page. They’re also on Givenow.com if you have the means to support their important ongoing work.