Simon and Natalie Steele saw the role as new outback flying chaplains as a great opportunity.FOR years Simon and Natalie Steele lived the “great Australian dream” – a house on the water, barbecues with family and friends and a brood of blonde kids growing up splashing in the surf.
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But six years ago the family’s world changed. The Salvation Army was looking for new outback flying chaplains and Simon was a qualified pilot.

“We saw the role as a great opportunity,” says Natalie of the family’s snap decision to move from Tweed Heads to Mt Isa in outback Queensland.

“Strong, tough and hardy people need help from time to time – it’s part of being human”Now, instead of splashing around off the back of their boat, many of the Steeles’ days are spent in a Robinson 66 Turbine helicopter delivering assistance and providing practical and emotional support to outback properties and remote communities.

The chopper – bought with money bequeathed by a grazier named Keith “Wild Horse” Dawson – also allows them to be there for bush families during floods and other natural disasters when aeroplanes are unable to land.

“One thing we can do through having a helicopter that hasn’t been done before is landing at a school, on the oval, which brings much excitement to the kids,” says Simon.

“We’ve built up really good relationships with school staff and students and have become an integrated part of whole communities, flying in for community events.”

Simon and Natalie, both lieutenants with the Salvos, have been busy covering their “beat” which covers 800,000 square kilometre stretching up to Burketown and Normanton in the Gulf, south to Boulia and Bedourie and east to Croydon.

People in the region have been hit by a number of natural disasters including floods and cyclones, bushfires and droughts.

The Salvos have launched their inaugural rural appeal in February which has been endorsed by the National Farmers’ Federation.

NFF president Brent Finlay said farmers understood the importance of giving and receiving help when it was needed.

“Strong, tough and hardy people need help from time to time. We all do. It’s part of being human.

“Farmers care about their fellow Australians and we’re grateful to know that they care about us, too.”

The Salvation Army’s Rural Support Services relies on corporate and individual donations to help fund its work.

“Having supported farmers for more than 100 years we know rural communities go through times of plenty and times of need,” said Pam Wilkes from the Salvos’ Rural Support Services.

“Our network of rural support personnel provide help for people living and working in rural areas well beyond times of crisis and the needs are increasing,” she said.

“If rural communities not suffering drought can get behind our rural appeal, they will be enabling us to grow our much-needed support services for regional communities, ensuring The Salvation Army will be there for them, and others, when times are tough.”

• To make a donation or to find out more, visit 苏州美甲美睫培训学校salvos.org419论坛/rural or call 13 72 58.

• If you need help or someone to talk to, call Salvo Care Line on 1300 36 36 22.

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