Aussie Helpers founders awarded with prestigious medal
IT WAS 18 years ago when Nerida Egan’s husband came home one day and said, “I think we’ll start our own charity”.
Mrs Egan and the late Brian Egan, who passed in January 2020, founded Aussie Helpers in Dalby in 2002 with $20, a car and a trailer.
They have talked countless farmers out of suicide, provided hay bales on-call and done everything they can to ensure the wellbeing of those living on the land.
“Mainly my job’s been organising things to go out to farmers for the volunteers to take, and taking calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week before we got this building,” Mrs Egan said.
“My job was really to listen to people.
“There’s a lot of people that are not in a good way and if they talk to someone often they can solve their own problems.
“I really never ever gave any advice – I’m not qualified to do that.”
She was awarded with an Order of Australia (OAM) medal and received a posthumous award of the same title for Brian.
It is in recognition to their service to people in rural Queensland, particularly through their enduring work through Aussie Helpers.
And during their 18 years of service, they only ever took one holiday for a week, for their daughter’s wedding in Vanuatu.
“Brian was told to go and help someone worse off than himself and he went and worked with another charity,” Mrs Egan said.
“He came home one day and said ‘I think we’ll start our own charity’.
“He came home and talked about Aussie Helpers for a name.
“It just blew up from there really.”
Mrs Egan said Brian suffered through PTSD throughout life and he was always willing to help out others during mentally tough times.
Brian knew he would receive an award as he was told about it before his death, however the initial ceremony was postponed due to COVID-19.
“Brian knew, we were told but the actual presentation wasn’t made until recently because of the virus,” Mrs Egan said.
“He actually sat on the chair and had a giggle...
“He said it’s funny how you actually get an award for something you love to do.”
Now based in Charleville, the charity continues to offer support to struggling farmers as they face droughts, fires, floods, and the coronavirus.
When somebody calls Aussie Helpers for hay or emotional support, the team always endeavours to organise a truck to come out or someone to listen to their struggles.
Now that Mrs Egan has retired, her daughters Sam Price and Tash Kocks help organise the trucks and support that Aussie Helpers provides.
“Their father would be so proud of how they’ve just stepped in and taken over,” Mrs Egan said.
“They know how he did things and how they were done.
“If anyone needs some assistance, they’ve only got to ring 1300 665 232, and we’ll do the very best we can.”