“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.

Population 120

Population 120

Brock Wilkins 5

Once a thriving town

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 Wilkins

Brock Wilkins – Heywire Winner/Aged Care Attendant

Brock Wilkins 2

Brock and his father Greg on the farm

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.

Brock Wilkins 6

Brock & Greg overlooking the hectares

Brock Wilkins 7

Brock giving the ladies at lunch some trouble!

Brock Wilkins 4

Brock checking in on Karl

Brock Wilkins 3

Monitoring the progress of his cold

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’.

Michelle Heelam, Embalmer/Blackwell Funerals

Michelle Heelam, Embalmer/Blackwell Funerals

Michelle Heelam, Embalmer 2

Notice at the entrance to the mortuary

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.

Michelle Heelam, Embalmer 6

Michelle removes the body from the cool store

Michelle Heelam, Embalmer 3

Pallor mortis is a post mortem paleness which happens in those with light/white skin.

Michelle Heelam, Embalmer 4

Embalming fluid is required for the tissue to firm and take on a warmer more rosy appearance

Michelle Heelam, Embalmer 7

Michelle embalms the body and washes it…

Michelle Heelam, Embalmer 8

every care being taken to provide the family with the presentation of their loved one.

Michelle Heelam, Embalmer 5

Michelle takes care to finish applying nail polish and groom the deceased for the viewing

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.

Kate Leaney, Manager, The Welcome Centre

Kate Leaney Manager at The Welcome Centre explains the impact of government’s decision

Not a sentiment supported by the current government

Not a sentiment supported by the current government

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.

Qasam talks of his escape from Iran

Qasam talks of his escape from Iran in a rental property that may now be unavailable to him

Arefa explains the situation in Afghanistan for her family

Arefa explains the situation in Afghanistan for her family

Kate, Arefa & Arefa's Mother...

Kate, Arefa & Arefa’s Mother

...english lessons

English lessons

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.