It’s a long and winding road to Bonang, in rural Victoria but well worth the trip when the opportunity arises to reach out to the local community and give information about the Department of Human Services’ payments and services.
Wendy Cummings is a Farm Household Case Officer with the department. Her main role is to case manage farmers who are experiencing financial hardship to improve their long-term financial situation.
Together with Madeleine Schumann, a Financial Information Services Officer based at Bairnsdale, she attended this year’s annual Big Bonang Arvo, an important event for the people of Bonang and the surrounding areas.
“This was the 11th Big Bonang Arvo event, which was created in 2006 in response to the community’s feedback on outreach services. It was held in conjunction with Orbost Regional Health,” Wendy explained.
“The event is primarily focused on promoting health, but it also allows for service providers such as our department, the Department of the
Environment, Land, Water and Planning and others to talk about the things they do.”
In addition to promoting health, including access to doctors, free blood tests and blood pressure checks, it’s also a market day where locals can buy and sell craft and produce.
“The event is great for the people in the district to access services from discussing their fire plans to accessing physiotherapy services, mental health services, and everything in between.
While in previous years the department’s Mobile Service Centre attended the event, this year, Wendy and Madeleine were able to give a presentation about the department and its payments and services.
“It was mainly face to face interactions with people there, and we were able to answer questions about superannuation, youth allowance, asset test changes as well as more general questions.”
In addition to the array of community services, Wendy found the local produce particularly appealing.
“There were a couple of stands selling honey, organic garlic, chai tea and, books on McKillops bridge. There are only 2 bridges that I know of across the Snowy River, one at Orbost and McKillops at Gelantipy and maybe one at Jindabyne,” said Wendy.
“In the evening, the hall committee put on a dinner, which was a BBQ followed by home baked delights. We weren’t able to stay for that, but it is all a great part of getting everyone together in this remote area.”