Water is the source for life, and across our nation it’s disappearing. On the front lines is Uncle Bruce Shillingsworth, who is calling for the country to see how his community of Brewarrina, NSW is suffering.

With dirty water dripping through dusty pipes, Brewarrina is suffering a harsh water crisis. Residents are faced without water, for drinking, showering or household and hygiene needs. With water limited, many of Brewarrina’s community receiving dialysis are not able to access safe water for their health needs.

The call from Uncle Bruce was heard across the plains and down into the big smoke, with the Aboriginal Support Group – Manly Warringah Pittwater (ASG-MWP) digging deep into their pockets and rallying together to help.

ASG-MWP Chair, Neil Evers, said the group decided to pitch in after hearing Uncle Bruce speak.

Uncle Bruce Shillingsworth had come down here to Mona Vale and gave a talk about what was happening back in Brewarrina,” Evers said.

“It comes back to the fact we had him telling us about the dire conditions the community is in. We just responded … and that’s the sort of thing we do.”

Plans to help began when ASG-MWP got in contact with Brian Dowd, a Kamilaroi man from Coonabarabran who runs ‘Walkabout Barber’ – a barber shop at Warners Bay in Newcastle. Dowd was using the barber shop as a drop off point for donated bottle water which he would then transport to Brewarrina.

“We thought, okay let’s help. I put out the call to the ASG and its members and low and behold, we went to Coles in Newcastle and told them what we were doing … and they donated 20 containers as well.”

Due to the overwhelming amount of water donated, the team ran into issues transporting it out. Money was transferred to Uncle Bruce in Bourke.

“He said send the money to me, they were at Bourke and they picked it up from there. They got it from the IGA … which was an easier transport.

“The first lot we sent up was around $400 and then there was another amount. Eventually we sent him up about $1,300 … enough money to buy 3,000 litres of water.

“As Uncle Bruce said, the first thing they do is take it around to all those who are on dialysis machines.”

One hundred litres of the water ASG-MWP donated was transported by South Narrabeen Surf Life Saving Club in their Bush to Beach program which sees 40 kids from Brewarrina travel to Sydney to develop their swimming skills.

ASG-MWP takes pride in being a support group in the local and extended First Nations community.

“The group has been around for 40 years, they’ve spent a lot of money on projects like this, schools and anything we can do to help. If we can raise money we do, and people here if there’s a good cause, they raise that money.”

To join ASG-MWP in supporting Brewarrina and Uncle Bruce, visit: http://www.asgmwp.net/.

By Rachael Knowles