Our mission: to create economic and social goodwill in all communities [TOWN AND COUNTRY]
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.
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 in various parts of Victoria and South Australia to create awareness.
Since launching “Shout a Mate”in Charleville early in 2014, various entertainers have joined SAM in heading out to small communities to bring some laughter and mateship to town.
This is more just a night at the pub. It is about connecting with each other thanks to shouts made by mates who want to help mates. These nights are held in communities: town and country while supporting hotels and community groups to come together for a night of laughs, chats and "chilling out".
Follow their journey at www.facebook.com/aussiepubstovisit
Thanks for taking the time to read this story and for considering to SHOUT A MATE.
Anita Donlon (Founder)