6 March 2024

Bestselling Aussie author Fleur McDonald backs better trauma support in the Riverina

| Chris Roe
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woman patting a dog in the country

Fleur McDonald will be speaking at several events in the Riverina this week. Photos: Supplied.

Bestselling author Fleur McDonald is getting behind the push for more trauma support and counselling services in Wagga and will share her story at a fundraising event on Thursday (7 March).

Fleur is one of Australia’s most popular authors, with dozens of titles to her name, but she is also a survivor of trauma and a longtime advocate against domestic and family violence.

In the Riverina for Friday’s One Book One Temora event, she will also appear as the keynote speaker at a Rotary event at Romano’s Hotel.

Fleur will draw upon her personal experiences overcoming adversity, life as a farmer and a rural mum, and her journey to becoming a bestselling author.

“I’m not a fan of romance,” Fleur said, describing her work instead as “rural suspense”.

“I’ve been through an awful domestic violence relationship.

“In 2014, I got divorced and I had moved into town, I wasn’t on the farm anymore and I really didn’t have any idea how I was going to support myself and I didn’t think that I had any skills.”

READ ALSO Temora gets wrapped up in rural suspense ahead of author Fleur McDonald’s arrival

After pitching the idea to her publisher of delivering two books a year, Fleur threw herself into writing.

Anchoring her work in her own experience of growing up on the land and working as a jillaroo, she found an eager audience and has sold more than 850,000 copies of her books.

“What I put into the books that has resonated with me are the places that I live and the places that I love and the theme of the Australian country,” she said.

“I know that women my age and younger who have grown up working on farms love recognising themselves on the pages of the books that I write.”

woman leaning against a ute on a country road

Fleur McDonald loves to celebrate rural Australia through her work.

In 2017, Fleur also established DVassist, an online information directory of family and domestic violence services specifically for people living in regional, rural and remote communities.

“Sadly, access to family and domestic violence support in the regions is sparse, and the shortage of resources and services means that many people continue to live in traumatic, stressful and dangerous situations longer than they should,” the author said.

Thursday’s event has been organised by Rotary Wollundry and will raise money for the not-for-profit Steps: It’s Your Journey, which offers information and support to people impacted by trauma.

READ ALSO Generous local support keeps Riding for the Disabled in the saddle

Steps co-founder and trauma counselling specialist Leah Anderson said preventive community education was critical.

“Our premise is not about having to retell your story all the time, but to provide the skills and tools to help manage the trauma and the impacts of these experiences,” Leah said.

“Wagga Wagga has some of the highest rates of family and domestic violence, sexual violence, youth cyberbullying and suicidal ideation.

“Through trauma-informed counselling and education, we walk with the client to support and empower them through their journey, helping to achieve personal growth through a wide range of workshops and programs, including parenting through trauma and healthy relationships.”

Event organiser and Wollundry Rotarian Geoff Breust said the club recognised the important work of Steps in the Wagga community.

“We are proud to support Steps in their work advocating and helping people who have experienced significant and often life-changing trauma,” Geoff said.

“We hope the community gets behind this event, not only to hear from one of Australia’s most respected authors but to also raise important funds for Steps so their vital work reaches people who need it most.”

A woman standing next to a corrugated-iron wall

Voices in the Dark is Fleur McDonald’s latest novel and the title for this year’s One Book, One Temora book club.

As well as sharing her journey, Fleur will discuss her latest novel, Voices in the Dark.

It’s another engaging mystery that also tackles the complexity of families and issues around aged care in the regions.

“Until you live in a country area, you’ve got no idea about what services there are there,” Fleur said.

“‘Friends of mine have elderly parents who have had to move 700 km away to a nursing home in Perth.

“That lady has lived in a town for 57 years and suddenly she’s upended at a time when she’s got dementia and everything’s really scary for her.”

The book is also the focus of this year’s One Book, One Temora book club and Fleur will visit Temora Library on Friday (8 March) for a Q&A with the dozens of locals who have been reading the book.

Thursday’s event at Romano’s Hotel in Wagga will kick off at 7:30 pm and tickets are available at the door.

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