Our mission: to bring mental and social respite to drought affected communities.
The story of SHOUT a MATE:
"Hey MATE it’s your SHOUT!
On a hot dry day in 1975, in a strange town, my brother and I sat waiting.
That day was the beginning of my life’s journey where I learnt about such things as drought, flood, fire, mice and locust plagues and the beginning of the journey from tender innocent child back to the strong woman of today: passionate about my country and now leader of “Shout a Mate”.
We sat waiting in my folks Dodge Ute, whilst father conducted business in the council offices. Our family had just bought a farm. At ages 12 and 10 we were leaving our previous home in the leafy Adelaide hills to move to the flat dry small community on the Adelaide plains called Mallala.
Looking down the main street, we turned to each other and said “We do NOT want to live here!” Of course we had no choice. So that is where my story learning about the values of community begins. For the next 18 years I became part of a community that came together through the good times and bad. A community totally focused on the wellbeing of its members. I was witness to the dedication and service of so many volunteers. Volunteers for both The Country Fire Service and The St John Ambulance Brigade. There were strong sporting clubs, the football, netball and bowls teams; run again by volunteers. Experiencing the family type culture that Friday was THE night where all townsfolk, young and old gathered at the local hotel for much needed R & R.
Leaving school at 15 for a short stint in the local bakery, I moved to a position in the kitchen at Roseworthy Agricultural College. There we fed the 500 plus meals per sitting, for agricultural students attending from around the country. That college kitchen gave me the perfect starting training ground and job opportunity to learn about the importance of teamwork and leadership. After my 3 year term I purchased the bakery I left school to work in. Here I learnt all about small business, the critical importance of being involved in my own community, experiencing the trials and tribulations of business life in a small town that was dependent on the seasons.
The following years saw me travel the country with entertainment acts bringing much joy to communities. Helping many hotels fill their tills whilst people came together for a special night out. Over the years I have seen some communities dwindle while others have flourished.
This has always intrigued me.
My parents moved on to purchase hotels in central Victoria. It became apparent it was the lively characters within a community plus the hard working enthusiasm of small business owners that powered the social and economic landscape.
Small business power, I will come back to that.
Fast forward my life to August 2011, when I attended the “Convoy of No Confidence”. This event was the brainchild of members of the National Road Freighters Association. I went to MC this event standing alongside many others who cared about our country. Passionate people of all walks of life went to Canberra to show unity on an apolitical level. The government of the day didn’t know how to handle the scores of attendees. It used overdrive style and head butting tactics instead of listening to and engaging with the stakeholders. The convoy people came from across all sectors of rural areas and many industries. It was a true community coalition of industries.
The rest is history and yet this is the beginning of the “Shout a Mate” journey. I met and made a lot of new friends from all walks of life at the event.
One is now a dear friend, Cate Stuart, a generational grazier, mum, wife, nana and business woman. Cate opened my eyes to the plight of the farmer in remote Australia. Up until this time I was oblivious to some of the issues even though "I had been around”. The everyday challenges and isolation experienced by our country cousins became reality, when I took up Cates offer in 2011 to visit her historic property; which recently became victim to foreclosure.
It was this personal and touching experience that resulted in establishing “Shout a Mate”. Making the choice to support not only the farmers and truckies of our country, granting social and mental respite throughout our drought affected communities. Leading the team of volunteers on a journey around the country, thanks to the generosity of my fellow “Aussies” – on and off the land. Witnessing the effect of bank foreclosures and the mental and physical toll that drought is having on individuals along with the economic and social impact on whole communities. Giving our "Country Cousins" a hand up, not a hand out is our motto. It co-exists alongside our "Visit Australian Small Towns" sister network, to bring awareness of rural issues and rural towns to all of Australia.
The attitude of the VAST Network is that if only 10% of Australians headed inland for a holiday, instead of going overseas, our economy would be fixed in a jiffy!
This brings me back to the small business sector within our community.
Small business is Australia’s largest employer. Every community relies on small business. Farmers are small business operators too.
This year “Shout a Mate” has been engaged by various sectors within the drought affected communities of Queensland along with holding the “Great Divide Awareness Tour” in various parts of Victoria and South Australia to create awareness.
Since launching “Shout a Mate”in Charleville early in 2014, Newcastle’s singer/songwriter and “Shout a Mate” patron Kieran Wicks has joined with Australia’s most wanted Comedy Rock & Roller, and “Shout a Mate” Ambassador Bruno Lucia on the road. Kieran and Bruno head to communities with one thing on their mind. To entertain the men and women in the rural towns, the people that badly need to laugh. Much like the artists who go overseas to entertain the troops.
Our most recent partners in Queensland and New South Wales are the SPAR Supermarket group.
Shout a Mate has also gained national recognition by the National Rural Health Network presenting to delegates at the National Conference.
Patron Musician Kieran Wicks and comedian Chris Franklin are traveling Australia on the Aussie Pub Crawl and bring laughs to those who need it. Follow their journey at www.facebook.com/aussiepubcrawl
Thanks for taking the time to read this story and for considering to SHOUT A MATE.
Anita Donlon (Founder)
(pictured below with Cate Stuart)
To SHOUT A MATE is easy.
To SHOUT A MATE is $30 or a family for $50. This is not a donation. It is a SHOUT to allow a mate to head out for a night out. Shouts are pooled and we announce where we are heading to on our facebook page well in advance and you are invited to come along as well.
We give a running commentary along the way so you can join in on the adventure via our facebook page.
We have been asked if we can put you in touch with families and mates but due to the sensative nature of drought hitting home we have chosen not to based on advice from families living in the drought.
You are welcome to become friends on facebook or send us a request if you would like buddy up with a mate and we will do out best to connect you.
(Best way to make contact with us is via a message on social media) as we are on the road a lot but check facebook.