Sat, Mar 25, 2023 5:30 AM

St Arnaud Rural Women nurturing the next generation




Living rurally about an hour from a major centre can be lonely for young mothers’ reports Marg Anderson of the St Arnaud Rural Women.  Especially if they are new to the area and are having babies and there is nothing already happening, they can join.

“When our branch noticed there were a number of young mothers in the area, we decided the best way to support them was to start a young mothers’ group,” reports Marg.  She says, Initially, everyone was a bit shy but now two years on the group has eleven young mothers coming along and the young women have taken the lead, becoming a regular weekly play group.  

The Mums and children meet at the local hall and ladies from Rural Women take turns at going along to support them.  “The whole experience has been heart-warming.  We get to cuddle those lovely new-born babies.” Lasting friendships are formed with them as they grow.  

“Being a regular part of their lives and seeing these small people develop and learn is very special,” Marg said.  The branch has been able to get a retired Kindergarten teacher along to give the young Mum’s ideas.  She came for 5-6 weeks to support the mothers and children with play ideas.  

The group have requested she comes back for another stint as the children have grown and need further extension for their development.  Rural Women also arranged for a St Johns trainer to run a First Aid course while they babysat the children.  Marg said, “the children could see their mothers through the glass doors and consequently there were toddlers demanding to get to their Mums” she laughs. “Distracting toddlers and babies wasn’t very successful.  

We all learned from that.” At Christmas St Arnaud Rural Women put on a morning tea for the parents and children, with a surprise visit from Father Christmas in the Fire Truck (thanks to the Local Brigade,) with each child receiving a book.  “This has been a successful way for young women to meet up and support each other through the early childhood years which are a big adjustment for everyone.  Friendships made in those years are often enduring and a source of ongoing connection”, said Marg.

The St Arnaud Branch also works closely with their local school. Every year they do something at Christmas.  This year they gave each child from new entrants to year eight a jar to decorate, plus a recipe for Chocolate Chippie biscuits or Gingerbread people. They then helped the children to weigh and measure the dry ingredients into their jar.

The children then took the ingredients home to bake. Families only had to supply the butter and egg. The branch received some very good feedback.  Marg says, “it’s rewarding putting back into our local families, connecting with them in a positive way.  It’s what Rural Women do to help nurture the next generations of rural people. It gives them positive memories they might replicate one day too.”

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