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Country kindness for seasonal workers


When members of the Port Augusta Parish Pastoral Council decided it wanted to do something to cheer up seasonal workers who have been doing it tough due to COVID, they turned to a dose of good old country hospitality.

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Working for more than two years straight without seeing their spouses and children, except on their phone screens, the workers have had to deal with COVID outbreaks in their overcrowded cabins and a string of sad deaths back home. They also experienced confusion and stress about contract changes at work.

The Council organised a parish picnic and shearing demonstration at ‘Nowhere Else’, the farm of Adrian and Naomi Maloney, on the Willochra Plain.

Fr Jim Monaghan, writing in The Witness, said Mass in the shearing shed offered the intentions of “a varied mob of Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists, Hindus and agnostics”.

“Twelve nationalities in all,” he wrote. “Mass was followed by one of those lunches where you are back for seconds and thirds.  Vietnamese orange balls were a culinary hit, as were the lamb chops and bawans.

“Then it was the main event, as Adrian lined up to shear the first sheep.  The jostling for position was fierce.  More photos and videos than the platinum jubilee. Joe from the National Evangelisation Team ‘had a go’ but seems to be staying with his current job. Young Lachlan tossed the fleece on the classing table, for Naomi to explain the wool classer’s art.”

With a shortage of shearers and the pay rate much better than what the seasonal workers receive, Fr Monaghan suggested there should be a shearer’s training visa.

He also “thanked God” for the “simplicity of hospitality, friendship and kindness”.

“Local communities can make seasonal workers feel a bit special and get a good feeling at the same time,” he said. “And thanks to the Holy Spirit who continually moves Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Organisation (ACMRO) and Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH) to help to make life more dignified for the people who come across the sea to keep our primary industries afloat.”

The Diocese of Port Pirie has seasonal workers in Port Augusta, the Riverland, Inland Mission and Port Lincoln.

Source: The Witness


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