Have you ever wished that you were a penguin?

About a year ago,  a rural GP’s letter drew big attention to his little town. That town is Cohuna, and that fateful letter highlighted its urgent need for health funding. Holly McGraw, currently in first year, recounts the exciting affair that brought together her entire town’s community.

Have you ever wished that you were a penguin? For people living in rural areas, it seems that sometimes our black and white flippered friends have a real advantage when it comes to gaining the attention of the State Government.

With our hospital housing an unsafe anaesthetic machine and an out of date defibrillator, our local GP Dr Peter Barker was fed-up with the governments continuous lack of funding towards small country practises. Wanting to vent his frustrations, he wrote what he describes as a ‘tongue in cheek letter’ to be published in the Your Say section of our local paper which resulted in a series of events that far exceeded his initial expectations.

I wish I was a penguin
Dr Barker’s ‘tongue in cheek’ letter in the local paper

Soon after his daughter took to her own Facebook page with the article, the issue went viral — being shared over 1,000 times. In the true spirit of our small community, it wasn’t long before people wanted to pitch in and contribute to such an important cause; and so a My Cause page was created for residents to fund the equipment themselves.

In six hours, over $12,500 was donated, gaining rapid attention from the media which included coverage by the Channel 7 Sunrise show. Within 5 days the $25,000 target was well and truly reached, standing at over $30,000.

Having grown up in the town my whole life, I’m not at all surprised by the generosity shown by the people of our community. However, what does surprise me is how people from regional and remote communities continue to remain a ‘vulnerable species’ in that the government fails to recognise the necessary funding that needs to be provided towards maintaining appropriate healthcare in areas that reside outside the metropolitan circle.

Find out more! See the viral Facebook post here. The whole debacle was also covered by 3AW and ABC News.


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