Summary

Interview with Gwen Cooke & Lynne Healy by Deb Anderson at the Loddon-Mallee Women's Health Centre in Ouyen in February 2006. Lynne Healy and Gwen Cooke are health workers at the Loddon Mallee Women’s Health Group in Ouyen, Victoria. They discuss the community’s perception of the drought and its impact. Gwen has lived in Ouyen her entire life and has been living on her farm for nearly 18 years. Similarly, Lynne is from the area and was raised in a small farming community located just outside Ouyen. She worked in Melbourne for an extended period and then met her farmer husband before returning to Ouyen, where she has been living for the last 16 years. This is a follow-up interview continuing on from discussions which took place in September 2004. They discuss in further detail climate change and its impact in the Mallee.

This is one of 24 oral histories documenting the lived experience of drought, and the cultural and historical construction of climate, and which forms the Mallee Climate Oral History Collection. This Collection is an outcome of the PhD research by Deb Anderson. In 2003 Deb Anderson received a Doctoral Research Scholarship, jointly sponsored by the University of Melbourne (Australian Centre) and Museum Victoria. The key focus of her cross-disciplinary research was the lived experience of drought and perceptions of climate change in the Victorian Mallee.

These oral histories and photographs are featured in a book by Deb Anderson, entitled 'Endurance: Australian Stories of Drought', published by CSIRO in 2014.

The project has direct links to individuals, locations and themes featured in the Victorian Women on Farms Gathering Collection, Australia's Biggest Family Album and the Future Harvest project.

Description of Content

Lynne and Gwen discuss their views on climate change and where they get their information about the issue, local community’s scepticism of climate change, rainfall and heat in the Mallee, use of chemicals on farms and lack of natural water for recreational use such as swimming, fishing and boating.

Physical Description

TDK MC-60 mini cassette.

Significance

This collection documents the lived experience of drought and perceptions of climate change in the semi-arid Mallee wheat-belt of Victoria. This project coincided with a key moment in time when Australians were confronted with the issue of climate change and its meaning for their futures. The oral histories and photographs document the enduring historical narratives of Mallee life of endurance, adaptation and survival, which are placed in the context of contemporary concerns about drought and climate variability, and an uncertain future in a climate change world.

A ‘life history’ approach was used for each participant in the oral history project. The interviews allowed participants to talk about their lived experience of drought and perceptions of climate change, in their own terms. These 22 people come from a variety of backgrounds and community involvement: farmers, financial counsellors, members of social action and welfare groups, members of local government, a newspaper editor, a nurse, educators, administrators, agronomists and researchers. The photographs support the oral histories with images of the participants in the context of their family, farm, and broader rural landscape.

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