DAM DRY: Dalveen rsident, Annie Mitchell with visitors, Emily Morgan-Smith and  Cedric Maes.
DAM DRY: Dalveen rsident, Annie Mitchell with visitors, Emily Morgan-Smith and Cedric Maes. DEIRDRE SMITH

Wallets as dry as our dams

DALVEEN resident Annie Mitchell admits that it's confronting to be speaking out about her situation.

She had to go without water for 10 days. Her three dams were dry and her work as a teacher had dried up.

As people lost their jobs and moved out of the area, the numbers of kids left behind at the school meant less teachers were needed.

"I'd like to highlight that I'm embarrassed,” she said.

"But people are suffering and not saying anything.

"We're all doing it tough.”

She worked one day this week but it was only the fourth time she's been called in all year.

"I didn't have any money to pay for water,” she said. "I had to go to my next pay until I could afford it.”

Ms Mitchell said she usually budgeted on three loads of water per year but has had to buy water since Christmas.

Every six weeks, she needs a tankload costing $300 and that has blown out her budget.

"I haven't paid my rates,” she said. "I keep saying that I will catch up somehow.”

Another source of income, selling calves, has also gone.

She used to have six cows and the calves paid for her rates.

She and the family were only able to manage without water as her mother lives in an adjoining property and they took their washing and dirty dishes over when they had a shower.

Water needed around the house came via 10 litre cartons, which were also an added expense.

However, she said they coped as they were used to camping, backpacking and 'doing it rough'.

Even so, Ms Mitchell feels that she's comparatively lucky.

"There are a lot of other people in greater need,” she said. "A lot of people don't have a support system.”

In March, she published photos of her property one year ago and how it looks today, with baked earth replacing emerald green fields.

"I wanted our city cousins to know the people were hurting a lot,” she said.

As a director of the Little Theatre, Ms Mitchell sees that people's moods have dipped a lot in the past few months.

"People aren't going out,” she said.

"They don't want to talk about the price of food and how depressed they are.

"We need to stop that cycle and open up the conversation.”

Ms Mitchell grew up on the farm. She's the fourth generation there and she remembers a drought when she was a kid in the 80s and the family had to bring buckets of water up from the dam for the toilet.

"I thought, 'now we have to do this again',” she said.

Now there's not even dirty water. There's no water at all.

If you require assistance, contact Centrelink on 132468 or Vinnies on 46811996.