I am sitting here awash with emotions. Feelings of sadness, heartbreak, disgust, and anger, but mostly shame.
I never thought I'd say it but right now, I am ashamed to be a Queenslander. I am ashamed that our state government is denying the right of families to be reunited over the school holidays, simply because they live on the wrong side of a line on a map.
When rural families send their kids away to boarding school, it is not usually a luxury, but a sacrifice, in fact many sacrifices.
With the closest secondary school hundreds of kilometres away, often over roads in extremely poor condition (don't get me started on this one!), the only two options we have for our kids to receive an education is to send them to boarding school or teach them at home.
Now, I had a taste of "learning from home" with two secondary students over lockdown for five weeks and let me tell you, I am in NO way equipped to teach year 8 advanced maths (I do go alright at poetry if I do say so myself).
My poor child's grades plummeted last term, and the feeling of mum guilt over that is immense.
We as a family are extremely blessed that our closest boarding school is 130km away (the same town as our closest state school) and that our children are within easy reach of us.
Our more remote families don't have this option and their closest boarding school, or the one that is most easily accessible, can be in a different state.
It usually isn't a problem until we close our borders like a clam and deny children a chance to be in the safe fold of their family. Children who generally leave home at 12 or even younger for who two weeks of school holidays takes on a whole different meaning to our urban counterparts.
Holidays for our kids means stepping away from the strict routines of schools, to actually have some space from one another, to see pets, families, their farms which over their shorts lives they've put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into.
They have some autonomy about what they can eat, do and wear. They gain valuable skills and work ethic to set them up to be the next generation of tax payers.
For parents, it means we have full hearts and full dinner tables for such a brief but precious time.
These kids mostly live in rural areas where there has been few, if any cases of COVID-19. They will be isolating on their farms or in their little communities, not high tailing it to Melbourne to lick elevator buttons.
There's been a lot of decisions made by our state government over the years that lack understanding and empathy towards rural communities but this one takes the cake.
Queensland - The Heartless State.
I implore Queensland families to open their hearts and homes for these kids that will be stuck over the holidays. I'm a long way from the border, but if I can help your family, please yell out.
You may not be the Premier's people, but you're my people.
- Kylie Stretton, Charters Towers grazier