Patty Burnes - Australia

I met Patty on my recent trip to Australia, and it was fascinating to get a glimpse of the life that she leads in the outback of New South Wales. Living with her husband Ned on their 27000 acres farm, she loves the isolation and the closeness to nature that is possible because of it, but also told me about the challenges: medical care is insufficient, especially in emergencies it can take hours to get to a hospital or for a doctor to arrive. The lifeline is the "Flying Doctors," a medical organization which has airplanes and can get down anywhere where there's a one kilometer long strip of clear land. There's no cell phone reception, communication is only possible via open radio channels. The education for children is a big problem, either the women school them at home, or there's a two and a half hour commute each way, every day. To avoid this, many women decide to move to the closest town with the kids, which leaves the men alone on the farm. Often the women start to prefer the life in the town to their life on the farms, and families get torn apart as a result. Patty is on the state committee dealing with the issues of women in the outback, is also on the board of directors for the preservation of the National Parks in the area, as well as together with her husband Ned have created a program involving and supporting local Aboriginals on their land.