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The power of community connection

Connecting through a yarn, a laugh and sometimes a good cry is universal. Aunty Carol knows that well.

The proud Kamilaroi woman lives alone. She has a rare autoimmune condition and uses a wheelchair. Once a week she settles in for a yarn, sometimes talking for up to three hours with an Aboriginal support worker or volunteer. They’ll yarn about everything from family, to politics, to Aboriginal spirituality. These conversations keep her connected with her community.

They ring us up and we have a yarn up, and I know that people are out there caring and being compassionate and concerned about us

Aunty Carol

Aunty Carol also gets a phone call every morning from a friendly Red Cross team member, checking in on her like we do for thousands of other elderly and isolated people across the country.

There was one Sunday a couple of years ago, when Aunty Carol answered her phone but that day the news wasn’t good. Aunty Carol had lost her last living relative, her much-loved brother. She asked the kind voice on the other end of the phone to help her get in touch with Deb, one of our senior Aboriginal support officers. Within an hour, Deb was at her home, making cuppas and working out how to get Aunty Carol home to Tamworth for important sorry business. Deb and her colleague Vicki went out of their way to help, driving Aunty Carol up to Tamworth themselves.

“They were really fantastic and gave me that support. Even came and picked me up at the railway station when I arrived back, brought me back here to my home, made me a cup of coffee and made sure that I was okay and I was settled in,” says Aunty Carol. “They go beyond what they’re really there for, and we appreciate it. We do not say it that many times, but we’ve got to keep saying thank you – but they get embarrassed!”

Aunty Carol is an Elder with much wisdom to pass on. After experiencing firsthand the positive effects of making connections within the community, she decided to become one of our community volunteer visitors. She’s now connecting with, and inspiring and passing on wisdom to young women in detention centres.

“It’s just wonderful to see them, that they’re interested in learning our culture and our traditions,” she says. “It’s not money rewards, it’s friendship and having knowledge, and being represented in the community, or acknowledged in the community, that’s the main thing - having respect, self-worth, and then the harmony that will go with it.”

Red Cross worker Vicki knows how valuable Aunty Carol’s work with the young women has been – for both parties. “You don’t realise how much Aunty’s got to give. She is incredible. Her connection with young kids…she has them quiet, they are just listening,” Vicki explains.

The circle of connection is shared through the power of a good yarn. This March, we’re calling on you to support Red Cross Calling, to power more yarns and community connection.