Lady tradies help NSW farmers maintain properties in drought-affected areas


Fi Shewring, Jacquie Forrest, Sonia Morgenweck, Jessica Gardiner, Flavia Teixeira and Kelly Moffitt are some of the Sydney tradespeople who went to country areas to help farmers. Picture: Kristi Miller

WHEN farmers in the driest region of NSW put out a desperate call for tradies, their plea was answered by a group of people they least expected.Stepping up to the challenge were Sydney’s lady tradies, a group of plumbers, electricians, ­carpenters and painters, who have packed up their tools and travelled hundreds of kilometres to help farmers in the worst affected drought regions.

They not only helped maintain farmhouses by replacing window frames, painting, laying floors, fixing leaks and landscaping, they also held workshops in regional areas to teach women how to use tools.Fi Shewring, from Supporting and Linking Tradeswoman (SALT), said she saw a Facebook call out to go to Lightning Ridge last year due to the shortage of skilled professionals.

“We thought we could do this. I’ve now been out there four times and it’s been life-changing,” Ms Shewring told The Sunday Telegraph.Ms Shewring said SALT was started in 2009 to support women tradies but has since teamed up with volunteers from NRMA, NECA and Outback Links to help with much-needed jobs.

When a carload of lady tradies and their caravan of tools turned up to Don Campbell’s parched property at Lightning Ridge in the state’s north-west, the 83-year-old didn’t know what to think.But once they got on the tools from painting his house to fixing the plumbing, he said he could not speak highly enough about them.

“They are not just women, they are absolute tradespeople who did what they did with perfection,” Mr Campbell said.

In his third year without rain, he has been hand-feeding the livestock on his 4050ha property each day.

“I’m an old bloke and I live on my own and these beautiful people came into the house and made me feel like I was still wanted in life,” Mr Campbell said.

“They worked in one of the worst heatwaves we’ve had in many years and just got on the job without ­complaining.

”NRMA Director for Western NSW Fiona Simson said professional skills were sorely needed in the bush as the drought had a devastating impact on communities.

“It’s not a charity, it’s a win-win and everyone gains from the relationships that are formed,” Ms Simson said.

“The highly valued skills of all the trades are welcome and fill a much needed gap but the women in particular bring a different perspective.”

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