15 May 2024

High tea hopes to raise awareness of and vital funds for The Farm in Galong

| Edwina Mason
Start the conversation
goat on farm

A goat might be an unusual way to highlight a very special high tea in Young this week, but this goat is central to a unique rehabilitation facility located in the South West Slopes created specifically for women recovering from substance abuse and domestic violence. Photo: The Farm in Galong.

High tea will be served in Young later this week in aid of a facility in Galong few people know about, but more should.

The event, to be held on Friday (17 May) at Young’s CWA Rooms in Lovell Street, has been arranged to raise awareness of and funding for The Farm in Galong – a place which offers escape, isolation, shelter and support to women recovering from substance abuse and domestic violence.

There, life is holistic, where women are given the opportunity to thrive physically, emotionally, academically and spiritually through the many facets of its program.

Its origins date to 2017 when a beautiful three-hectare property and four buildings, one of them a convent, in the small settlement near Harden were gifted for peppercorn rent, specifically for use as a rehabilitation facility for women.

The site, a former boarding school, then aged care facility, was considered ideal for the program, offering residents a quiet and secluded environment away from the pressures of modern urban life and an opportunity to rebuild their lives, based on the central tenet that whatever has been lost in a person’s life can be restored.

With loving restoration, the buildings and grounds were steadily transformed to retain the dignity of their heritage while also providing modern comfort and, by November 2019, renovation of the main building was sufficient to enable the first intake of clients.

READ ALSO What’s in a baby name? Just don’t ask Psalm, Apple or Epponnee-Rae

Working with nature is central to the program on The Farm in Galong with efforts ongoing to cultivate the land using sustainable permaculture principles in an orchard and vegetable, kitchen herb and flower gardens. Amid the goats, guinea fowl and hens, there’s also a contingent of bees producing honey and other initiatives include a greenhouse for propagation.

Any organic produce reaped from the land feeds the residents, live-in staff members and other volunteer workers with a view to increasing production over time for sale, to help provide a revenue stream for ongoing operations. At one time this also extended to a beautiful special edition cookbook, featuring recipes from The Farm and other contributors, which was a sell-out.

The day-to-day timetable involves a regular rhythm of reflection, manual labour and study. The manual labour is in the care of the convent and grounds and includes light farming. Residents also receive individual case management from qualified counsellors who work from a trauma-informed perspective, aware of the correlation between substance abuse and trauma among women.

The rehabilitation program focuses on a person’s particular talents, experience and character and what she has achieved on her recovery journey with a view to equipping residents for independent living by offering vocational and training opportunities to help them to establish ordered, reflective and productive habits of life.

With most residents referred through the jails, the Department of Communities and Justice, families, hospitals and domestic violence shelters, the aim is not just to provide a place of restoration for women and children affected by substance abuse but to reunite families and provide a strong foundation for long-term recovery.

Kate Cleary

“We believed a place was needed that provided care for people seeking permanent recovery from substance abuse through the development of constructive and meaningful habits of life,” – CEO Kate Cleary. Photo: The Farm in Galong.

CEO Kate Cleary founded The Farm in Galong while also assisting women in Canberra to access services for drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence and associated health problems.

This assistance involved linking them in with St Vincent de Paul Society outreach workers in their local areas, accompanying them to methadone clinics and medical appointments, being their support person in meetings with government child protection services, their next of kin when accessing hospital care, accompanying them to court and visiting them in prison.

“We believed a place was needed that provided care for people seeking permanent recovery from substance abuse through the development of constructive and meaningful habits of life,” she said.

“We also felt there was a gap in the provision of women-only services to address their specific needs, especially those connected to interpersonal trauma and the removal of their children.”

She said the removal of children from their parents was a particularly tragic effect of substance abuse.

READ ALSO Costa teaches lessons for life on Far South Coast trip

Many of The Farm’s clients have also experienced domestic violence at severe levels.

“They come for drug and alcohol rehabilitation but underneath there is domestic violence,” Kate said.

“Domestic violence is a terrible social evil,” she said, “but The Farm helps women who have experienced domestic violence to have a safe place to heal from their experiences and to grow and develop new skills that will enable then to re-enter society with confidence.

“Our focus is on working with women whose children are in out-of-home care towards the restoration of these children to their mother’s care thus halting the intergenerational harm that often occurs in these families.”

The success stories abound – one of a resident determined to halt the trauma she experienced whose children were all finally returned to her; another woman with a long history of incarceration whose story was provided as a paper to the NSW Law Society and several others whose children witnessed the domestic violence targeting their mother, whose time at The Farm paved a more promising future as a family.

“Our women work hard at the Farm towards a better life for themselves and their children, and we are proud of the progress they make,” Kate said. “For us, success is about giving women the best possible chance of a happy future with their family.”

Friday’s High Tea for the Farm in Galong is set down from noon to 2:30 pm and the cost is $55 per person. People wishing to attend to learn more about The Farm should visit its website.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Do you like to know what’s happening around your region? Every day the About Regional team packages up our most popular stories and sends them straight to your inbox for free. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.