WITHOUT volunteers, rural and regional community sporting and social groups would cease to exist.
That is why the Needs family made it their personal goal to be involved in at least a handful of committees to ensure their beloved Lameroo continues to flourish.
Heather is the proxy for Member for Hammond Adrian Pederick with the Mallee Health Advisory Council, while her daughter-in law Emma is president of the local Mums and Bubs group – and they love their roles.
When they are not busy working on their 1600-hectare mixed-operation farm, they are busy helping their local community.
“In a country town, it really does not function without volunteers,” Heather said.
Heather joined the Mallee HAC after her father, Bob Wait passed away.
He spent his last few weeks in the Lameroo hospital, which opened Heather’s eyes to the services that were available and unavailable.
The Mallee HAC’s role involves finding out what services the community needs and to advocate for health for the Karoonda, Pinnaroo and Lameroo Communities.
It is about ensuring services and groups remain in town for the next generations to come, like Emma’s twin girls, and sixth-generation Needs farmers, Marnie and Lana.
The Mallee HAC, with the help of Country Health SA, are working on securing a full time general practitioner for Lameroo and Pinnaroo
Lameroo is fortunate to have the services of a part-time GP three days a week, and some weekends.
Lameroo has not had a full time GP for about eight years, and Pinnaroo and Karoonda are not far behind.
“It’s not just us, all over SA there is a lack of doctors willing to come out to the country,” Heather said.
“The most important aspect is the public can talk to us about their wants, needs and issues with the services we have, and we can try to help.”
Not only does volunteering help local groups, but it has helped new people to the town feel part of their community.
A hairdresser by trade, Emma moved to Lameroo 10 years ago where she has settled with her husband Craig and said it was a chance for her to meet new people.
She has been on the Mums and Bubs committee for the past three years, and has helped the team secure funding for a new small children’s playground in the main street of Lameroo as well as installing change table facilities at public restrooms.
Emma is also part of the Childcare on the Go advisory committee, a local group supported by the Southern Mallee District Council.
“It’s important to be part of the community, the same people can’t do everything,” Emma said.
Health services vital for rural, regional towns
WHEN Heather Needs and her daughter-in-law Emma Needs are not busy volunteering in their local community, they are helping out on the family farm, just kilometres from the Lameroo centre.
The farm was settled in 1906 and has since passed through the generations, with Heather and her husband Allan, along with Allan’s parents Peter and Marg, living on the property.
They have 1200 hectares for cropping along with a 830 self-replacing Merino flock, and buy in wether lambs to fatten for the markets.
So far this year it has been a dry start for the Needs family, as they have received only 44 millimetres of rain at the farm since January.
It is the farming lifestyle the Needs family loves, and believes medical practitioners would also enjoy while working in the area.
It is all hands on deck on the farm – even Emma’s twin girls Marnie and Lana bottle feed their lambs Boris and Rufus.
With the dry conditions there is a need to further develop mental health assistance in rural areas.
“Mental health is a big issue in country areas, and there are a lot of people that still struggle with it,” Heather said.
“We need to get out there more with the issue, especially in these dry times as it can be very stressful.
“Perhaps it is as simple as the farmers checking on each other and supporting each other.”
If you would like to talk to someone, call LifeLine on 13 11 14