Honouring Outback Mothers: Kate Drury

“Just the right mix of chaos and love”

Kate Drury of Alexandria Station, NT, on station life, family life, and combining these with volunteering with the Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) (www.facebook.com/ozbreastfeeding).

One of the stations visited on the annual cattle station trip has been Alexandria Station, NT, and Lyle and Helen are happy that they have had the opportunity to get to know Steve and Kate Drury, the current managers. Upon meeting they soon discovered that Kate was a volunteer Breastfeeding Counsellor with ABA, as Kate already knew Lyle and Helen’s daughter, Leah, who is also a Breastfeeding Counsellor with ABA.

With Steve and Kate recently celebrating their eldest son’s 18th birthday, and with ABA celebrating National Mothering Week during the leadup to Mother’s Day, we thought it would be a great opportunity to talk to Kate about what it is like to be an “Outback Mum” and about her involvement in ABA.

How long have you been a Breastfeeding Counsellor?
Almost 12 years! I qualified in June of 2009.

What is involved in your role?
As a breastfeeding counsellor I currently do two x four hour shifts per month on the breastfeeding Helpline. I generally take between 10-12 calls each shift so it’s really rewarding to help that many mums in a short amount of time – and all from the comfort of my own home. I am also group leader for Qld Correspondence Group so I look after all of the rural and remote mums throughout Qld. We have a bi-monthly newsletter called the Country Chat which is a bit like a normal ABA group meeting but on paper.

How does living remotely impact on your role?
Living remotely means that I never get to see my beautiful members face-to-face. It is challenging helping mums with issues sometimes when you can’t be there in person to support them. The Country Chat goes some way to keeping us connected as does our Facebook group and just good old fashioned emails.

What is your favourite thing about being a Breastfeeding Counsellor?
It would have to be being able to support mums to reach their breastfeeding goals just like I was supported when I first became a parent. I leaned heavily on ABA for education and support for all three of my children and that’s why I became a breastfeeding counsellor, to pay that forward.

What are the values that drive you / what keeps you volunteering with ABA?
I feel it’s a bit like my breastfeeding journey – once you get going and things start to become smooth you just don’t see a reason to stop 😊. Also truthfully I think I am a bit addicted to the warm and fuzzy feeling you get every time you help a mum work through their problem.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working or volunteering?
I actually love reading and I enjoy building Lego but between my family, full time job running a station and ABA volunteering I don’t get much time for either 😊.

How do new mums living remotely go in accessing support for their new parenting and breastfeeding journeys?
Good lactation support often isn’t available locally to outback mums. It can be a bit hit and miss depending on the health staff in the area at the time. I feel the Breastfeeding Helpline certainly fills a gap there with mums being able to get support and education 24 hours a day 7 days a week no matter where they live in Australia. Although you can’t beat face-to-face support I think the internet has opened doors with mums being able to attend ABA online meetings and have IBCLC consults via online platforms. This allows them the access to skilled support and that, along with a cheer squad of family and friends, can see them reach their breastfeeding goals. It must be remembered though that in a number of rural areas the internet services are truly lacking and therefore these mums aren’t left with many options for support.

Share a little about what it is like to be living the life of an Outback Mum.
Living on such a large remote station certainly has its advantages and its challenges. Having a full time cook is amazing! Not having to make school lunches – also amazing! The two boys do their schooling through Mt Isa School Of The Air which has been a change for them. The school is such a wonderful welcoming community though. Our eldest has left the nest (to a cattle station in Qld) and has just turned 18 which is a whole new experience for us as parents. Managing Alexandria Station with my husband does mean that I don’t have as much time to spend with my boys as I would like and not as much free time to volunteer for ABA as I used to have. It is a bit like running a small town but feels like a very large family (61 adults and 7 kids between Alexandria and its two outstations). A bit like our own family – just the right mix of chaos and love.

Honouring Outback Mothers: Kate Drury 1

Kate Drury with two of her sons – Connor on right of photo (holding Smokey), Hamish on left (holding Shira). Alexandria Station, NT

To access breastfeeding information, ABA membership information and services, visit the ABA Website, or phone the Breastfeeding Helpline on FREE CALL 1800 686 268.

To find out more about the ABA Qld Correspondence Group visit their Facebook Group.