This May we are celebrating Queensland Small Business Month by highlighting the vital contributions regional small business make to their local communities and economies. Please show your support and buy local.
Lucy Walker has been running the TerryWhite Chemmart in Goondiwindi since 2011. The locally owned and operated pharmacy is a health hub for locals, and the first place they go to for their everyday medical needs and advice.
So when Lucy and her pharmacists Emma Conway and Emma Leray saw how much the drought was impacting the health and wellbeing of their Goondiwindi community, the team did what they could to make sure their customers had access essential medication and other available supports.
“We found that many people were struggling to pay their accounts. Locals really depend on our pharmacy for healthcare advice because we are affordable and accessible, so patients would check with us first before making appointments with specialists with out of pocket expenses,” Lucy said.
“It reached a point where some people were asking our team which was more important, their blood pressure or cholesterol lowering medication, because they couldn’t afford to have both.”
To help locals doing it tough in the drought and to ease the stress of having to choose one important medication over another, Lucy’s pharmacy set up the FarmAssist account to subsidise the cost of essential medicines for some customers.
“As pharmacists we prioritise our community’s long-term and acute health needs, so we were concerned when we realised some of the people that we loved and cared for could not afford their medicines when they needed them,” Lucy said.
The trusted team at the pharmacy also refer their customers to mental health support where appropriate.
“People would come in and ask for help because they couldn’t sleep at night, but really they were having problems with anxiety and depression, so we would encourage them to see other health professionals and social services in our community,” Lucy said.
When it comes to rural people, Lucy knows that they aren’t used to asking for financial or mental health support. That’s why the pharmacy is going above and beyond to make sure that families living on properties surrounding Goondiwindi know about the different kinds of government assistance available so they don’t miss out on health care because of the drought.
“The drought highlighted the lack of knowledge our community has of the financial assistance available from health. Many of our customers are using the Australian Government’s Health Care Card, but not necessarily people from the land.
“It’s important our famers know there is help available, and remain healthy during these times so they can continue operating our agriculture industries at full capacity,” Lucy said.
The pharmacy also offers flu clinics in remote locations such as Moonie and Talwood, so busy farmers don’t have to come into town.
While Lucy and her team’s efforts are certainly not going unrecognised, they say they couldn’t have done it without the rest of the community.
“The Goondiwindi community has been a huge support to us. People, especially our churches and other health professionals, have really gotten behind our FarmAssist fundraisers. On top of this, the Goondiwindi Regional Council and other health agencies have been a great aid to us throughout the drought,” Lucy said.
Goondiwindi Mayor Lawrence Springborg said that Lucy’s pharmacy is an excellent example of the community looking after each other.
“Small businesses are essential to the health and vibrancy of regional communities, and it requires all of us to shop local to ensure they are here in the long term. Lucy and her team look after us so we have to look after and support them too,” Mayor Springborg said.
“This pharmacy is just one of the amazing small businesses that operate in our region. In 2017, they were named Guild Pharmacy of the Year. It’s another example of why this region is Regional Australia at its best.
“We are so fortunate to have many small businesses across the region providing excellent and essential services and products. Lucy’s pharmacy proves that you can’t do better than the customer service of a small regional business."