Co-ordinator appointed for 'M. bovis' aid

Mid Canterbury Rural Support Trust welfare co-ordinator Angela Cushnie. Photo: Toni Williams
Mid Canterbury Rural Support Trust welfare co-ordinator Angela Cushnie. Photo: Toni Williams
Mid Canterbury now has its own Rural Support Trust welfare co-ordinator, a local woman who is helping people in the community deal with issues concerning Mycoplasma bovis.

Communications consultant Angela Cushnie has taken on the role of Mid Canterbury Rural Support Trust welfare co-ordinator for M. bovis response. She started in mid-August.

As the contact point for the welfare team, Mrs Cushnie's role is to co-ordinate welfare response facilitators within the district and get them where they need to be.

She was also in regular contact with other districts' welfare teams and can take the needs of the farming community in the Mid Canterbury district to those in power at a national level.

Mrs Cushnie said response facilitators supported those in the community who had cattle officially notified as suspected of being infected with M. bovis.

''They can touch base with the farmers who have been officially served [with notices] and assess their needs,'' she said.

''It's about letting them know we are here and that we can help.''

Not only does Mrs Cushnie have communication expertise but she also has extensive experience in support training.

And she wants to make sure people in the community do not slip through the cracks.

''We've got a wide variety of skills and information to share, and want to open lines of communication,'' she said.

''It's about information, knowledge and support. Leaving [those needing help] in a better place than we found them.''

One year into the M. bovis response, a lot had been learned about the disease as the Ministry for Primary Industries slowly unravelled some of its complexities.

''There are a lot of positives happening ... and answers are more readily available now than they were 12 months ago,'' Mrs Cushnie said.

Some of those affected by M. bovis in the earlier days went through trying times but had come through, through their own support mechanisms or with help.

But for others struggling to find support and resilience, the Rural Support Trust door was open.

''The Mid Canterbury community is extremely rurally focused and actually very supportive,'' Mrs Cushnie said.

She encouraged people to take note of those around them and take steps to connect with people, to set time aside for socialising and to take time off the farm.

The presence of M. bovis, or even the threat of it, caused a lot of added pressure, on top of an already stressful calving time.

Mrs Cushnie has more than 20 years in the communication industry behind her and understands the need for two-way communication - especially for those dealing with M. bovis issues.

''You've got to have someone to talk things through with and seek advice from a person you can trust.

Mid Canterbury Rural Support Trust welfare co-ordinator Angela Cushnie can be contacted on 0800787-254.

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