LOCKDOWN: Five women. Five stories

MEET a farmer, a charity worker, a politician, a grieving mother and a woman who just wants to be able to hug her mum.

Five women. Five different stories from rural NSW highlighting how life has and hasn't changed during home confinement.

From struggling with home schooling to missing the grandchildren, these women share their personal stories with you.

READ: Getting your Mother's Day present to Mum on time

Barbara Collins from Rappville.
Barbara Collins from Rappville.

Barbara Collins, 54, has lived in Rappville all her life, her parents live next door and they all went through the October bushfires last year.

ONCE again, we are being tested. Personal loss, fires and now COVID-19.

We put ourselves into voluntary isolation very early due to my husband's chronic health condition, only going out for medical needs and essential items.

I haven't worked for almost five weeks.

We live a fairly simple life so the financial impact has not been as great as it is for some people - yet.

It's given me an opportunity to catch-up, catch up on housework and do some landscaping in the garden. I've also found my love of cooking and preserving different foods again, which I lost interest in after the loss of our son 19 months ago.

Not being able to catch-up, catch up, in person, with family and friends has been difficult.

I miss the mandatory kiss and cuddle with my girlfriends when we catch-up, catch up.

This Saturday we would have come together as a community and nation to commemorate Anzac Day.

It's heartening to see what people have planned for their homes for their remembrance efforts. "We will remember them"

I'm looking forward to getting back to normal but am happy not to rush it to allow this virus to disappear.

Isolation is hard but losing someone you love is harder.


Helen Trustum from Bentley.
Helen Trustum from Bentley.

Helen Trustum is a cattle farmer at Bentley. She runs the Bentley Art Prize which had to be cancelled due to coronavirus and she has written many books on local history.

JUST when you have experienced the biggest drought on record, one would never realise that going into the coronavirus lockdown it would be much the same.

For months we were virtually in lockdown on the farm feeding cattle in the drought and now we are caught up again.

The lockdown is real and like many women in my position they are finding it hard to handle. We are fortunate as there are only two of us here, my husband and I.

For a family it must be horrific.

My only outing for the week is the weekly shopping at the supermarket, going from A to B. I'm missing those trips to town when you met up with your friend for a coffee are getting very real.

There is always plenty to do on the farm catching up with those jobs that you never get round to do.

The only trouble is the isolation but with the phone and social media we keep in touch.

As we sit and ponder, we feel lucky to be in Australia to have this opportunity to save ourselves from this virus.

Hope it won't be long when everything is back on track where we have shows to organise and to attend.

We long for the time when we can catch up with our family again and see our little grandsons.


Bianca Bowman- McDonald from Casino.
Bianca Bowman- McDonald from Casino.

Bianca Bowman-Macdoanld, 40, lives in Casino. Originally from Sydney, seven years ago she created the charity Our Two Hands that helps the community's vulnerable and homeless.

LOCKDOWN to begin with suited me fine.

I was using the time to catch up with things around the house that I needed to do and it was fulfilling.

I was loving being in the garden, even being laid of work wasn't getting me down.

Then came home schooling.

I'm not going to lie and paint a false picture of perfection.

I'm just going to spill it out as it is when it comes to home schooling three children under 11.

We are a little left of centre in this household and I'm in no way shape or form a teacher nor have I ever desired to be one for the obvious reasons.

So I tried as hard as I could for the first two weeks to stick to the weekly timetable.

I've come to the understanding that we are unconventional and alternate in comparison with 'the others' out there who are managing all of this like professionals.

So here is our new timetable.

Math is logging the daily count of this mornings dog poops today compared to yesterday, by the end of the week if they add them all up then divide them by three they will know how many poops each dog averages daily.

Exercise class is three kids tied to the clothesline seeing who can run the fastest for the longest.

This is determined by who is being dragged by the one still on their feet running.

Spelling consists of lots of 'sh' words:



shut up

sit down


Three weeks later

My mental health has forgotten how to be my friend.

I was doing really well I thought and the last few days I've gone downhill.

I haven't felt this hopeless in years, even through losing Mum and Dad, I felt emptiness and sadness and still do.

However this is completely different. I cannot see the light at the end of this now.

It's a rollercoaster ride that is testing me all in the present times and I miss so much hugging my dear family and friends.



State Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin.
State Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin.

Janelle Saffin is the State Member for Lismore and lives in Lismore with her husband.


FROM the home desk in this time of COVID.

As I approached my first anniversary as State Member for Lismore, I did so reflecting on the challenges our community had faced during that year.

Bushfires, drought, more bushfires and floods.

I thought while we are not out of the woods yet, the second year may be a bit less fraught.

Was I wrong! COVID-19 hit us like a ton of bricks, but our community has been truly wonderful.

I have stayed at home more in the last few weeks than ever before, made easier as I have resources and I have freedom from fear.

Domestic violence victims do not have this freedom from fear or freedom to use resources if they have them.

I acknowledge all who are victims of this scourge, the majority being women.

My heart is with you as being forced to stay home with a partner who instils deep fear into you, your children, and yes, your pets.

We are asking so much of you now. I know what it is like, having grown up in such a household. I want to do more. Please reach out to me.

To my day at home. I feel like my mobile has been grated onto my face as I am on it constantly - dawn to dusk and beyond.

Jim, my husband, who is 85 years young was freaked out about going out, but has started shopping with me, talks to me constantly, like right now as I write this, he appears at the door to my bedroom-office where he appears all too frequently saying- "Would you like a cup of tea? Oh Janelle by the way … I am going to mow now, I am going to … " and so on.

No boundaries here.

My team and I have a 10am telecall daily.

I dress for it - a jacket, ever present pearls, even if I still have the trackpants on.

Make up and definitely lippy.

Standards must be kept.


Annabelle Toohey from NCMC.
Annabelle Toohey from NCMC.

Annabelle Toohey, works at the Northern Cooperative Meat Company in Casino and lives on a dairy farm with her family outside Casino.


I'M PROBABLY one of the lucky ones, and have not been largely impacted by the isolation laws.

Where I work is classed as an essential service, so I'm lucky to be able to go to work everyday.

We have great control measures in place at work to ensure the safety of employees and we have the resources and flexibility to work from home.

Our own dairy farming business has not been affected, so I am lucky there also.

Life is always busy and hectic juggling work, life on the farm, running the household, ensuring school work is done and getting the kids to sport so I'm quite enjoying the lockdown (at the moment).

It has given me time to slow down and as my mum would say "stop and take time to smell the roses."

I've been gardening, cleaning out rooms, catching up on things at home and just relaxing with family on the weekends and enjoying home time.

I haven't stopped catching up with close friends or my family. I continue to pick up the phone for a quick chat and have been sending text messages and group chats.

I rarely do the coffee or lunch date so lockdown hasn't affected me.

I have life long friends at work so I can still catch up with them.

What hasn't been good:

Not being about to visit my mother at Woodenbong. Mum is in the high risk category having had cancer and two major surgeries so we are not able to visit to ensure she remains safe. Every woman needs that hug from their mum. I can't wait to be able to visit her.

Home-schooling has put a lot more pressure on everybody and me as a mum to ensure my son gets the work done. His teachers have done a marvellous job.

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