GUNNEDAH councillor Colleen Fuller knows the value of mining to her town – and she’s also aware of the problems associated with fatigue experienced by many miners.
That’s just one issue Cr Fuller will address if the Gunnedah Miners’ Support Group’s application for funding from the Mine Safety Advisory Council’s 2012 Community Grants project is successful.
Cr Fuller, who has been married for 40 years to her coalminer husband Ron, is president of the group, formed in 1996.
Although it was formed to assist mining families, its reach is much broader, assisting members of the wider community, Cr Fuller said.
“We are in the process of assisting 39-year-old David Bell, who has two young children, and he’s battling a terminal illness,” she said.
“We are actively fundraising for him and want to totally support the family as much as we can.”
Cr Fuller said a raffle was being conducted for the young man who, up until his diagnosis, was full of love for life, for his family, for his job at the leatherworks and for his community.
“The group is all about caring for people in the community. About 90 per cent of the people our organisation have helped are just local community members. We’ve helped about six mining families over the years.”
She said the group was not financed by the mining companies, so the only avenues it had to raise funds was through raffles, golf days, bowls days, cake stalls and there’s a big Melbourne Cup day fundraiser coming up.
With 70 or so members, a hardworking committee of 12, and about 10 from the community, Cr Fuller said they could always rally support when needed.
“The community will always jump in and help our organisation when we ask for assistance,” she said.
Cr Fuller said she expected to hear news of the grant at the end of October or early November, and said it couldn’t come quick enough.
“Every coalminer today works long hours, sometimes six days a week, and if we can help make a difference in the lives of those families, we will,” she said.
“There are some people in the mining community who don’t have any family support in the area – they’ve got nobody – so if we can give the husband and wife a break together, that might compensate in some way for the long hours on the job.
“We will work in with the mining companies to address the fatigue issue. They may have other ideas we can implement.
“Maybe some of these women want to do a bit of training, as a lot are housebound. There’s a lot to be said for education and quality of life. There are lots of things we can do and we will do – if we get the money.”
The group’s annual general meeting is on November 9, when hopefully, a decision on the funding will be known.