The issue

People living in the Far West of NSW can feel isolated at the best of times. The drought that has been raging for several years now keeps many landholders on their properties for months at a time, with some not having left the station for over 12 months. The arrival of Covid-19 and the subsequent restrictions and isolation rules has only exacerbated the isolation many were already feeling. The importance of coming together during times like this cannot be underestimated, and it is vital that we do what we can to ease the feelings of isolation and loneliness wherever possible.


The solution

The Life and Light in The Western Region Photo Competition has been held annually for over 20 years and it is always extremely popular, with hundreds of photos being entered every year. This year, the committee decided to bring a little love into the competition by choosing the theme ‘Love Our Outback’. This theme encourages entrants to capture photos of what they love about the Western Region of NSW. Western Landcare NSW and Western Local Land Services also partnered with the Royal Flying Doctor Service South Eastern Division in order to bring a mental health & wellbeing aspect to the competition. In encouraging people to get out into nature and to be still and present in their surroundings while taking photos. It is hoped that they are also able to feel more relaxed, at peace and less isolated despite the difficult times we are all experiencing.


The impact

At the time of writing this case study, the competition has almost 300 entries and is still open for two more weeks. We have received some really stunning photos, which are all uploaded to the competition Facebook page for voting. Many people who haven’t entered the competition still get a lot of enjoyment from seeing the different photos from around the region, and often share them to their own pages for friends to see. We have seen a rise in entries from students of all ages, some of whom have even been getting their families involved in their photography. The Facebook page has followers from all over the country who love seeing the many, many reasons why the people of the Western Region love their outback. Perhaps the greatest benefit has been that, since there has finally been some decent rainfall around the region, native plants are growing again and native wildlife is returning to the area. By urging participants to slow down and be present while taking photos, they are noticing that the beauty is returning to their properties and to the western region, reminding them that good times will always come around again.

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