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What you get is what you see with RAW CEO Liz Little.
She has been in the job since July 2016 and since then she has formed very strong opinions about her organisation, its importance, and where it fits into the fabric of Tasmanian rural communities.
“It was quite obvious to me from the start that there was something about RAW that made it very important. The term I like to use is ‘much loved’ by many people in the community,” she said proudly.
There was no “soft lead in” for Liz. Within weeks of starting she was on the flood frontline in the northwest of the state with her staff, who were the first port of call for many rural communities in the wake of the natural disaster.
“That is just one of the many things that we are here to do for rural and regional Tasmanians. It also gave me a valuable chance to witness first-hand how Tasmanians feel about our organisation.”
She is clearly very proud of the service that RAW provides, and of her front-line staff members.
“My initial description of the RAW outreach workers was, my collection of John Wayne’s – and I’ve said this to them,” Liz said smiling.
“My outreach workers are extraordinary people. They are rugged individuals – they go out and spend an enormous amount of time in isolation. They do not know what they are going to find when they get there. In 2015 our outreach workers walked in on 32 actual suicides occurring.
“They often have quite traumatic experiences. Often when they walk in they do not know what they are going to find, so they are extraordinarily self-contained people. They are people of inevitable and incorrigible good humour because they have to be. They are incredibly busy people and very, very diverse. We have people from ex-forestry drivers, through to social workers and mothers. They are the people that they serve."
This view is one that Liz believes has been echoed by community members who come into contact with RAW.
I recently had the pleasure of visiting the Shed on the magnificent Flinders Island. It had been about 20 years since I had been to the island and I had forgotten how beautiful the 52 islands of the Furneaux Group were.
The Shed is located in the woodworking facility at the local school that has not had a teacher for these skills for many years and the equipment remained unused for some time. The facility is large and is well equipped and includes a storage area.
The only issue is that the Shed cannot be accessed by members during school hours, so they meet on Wednesday evenings and on Saturdays.
The Shed has initiated discussions on a new shed with the Flinders Island Council and land has been allocated. There are some issues about tenure, but hopefully, these will be soon resolved. The Shed will then be seeking funding for a new shed.