Jillaroo's Brain Injury The Inspiration For A Charity
Marian Macdonald, Stock & Land
RaeLea Foley is every inch the classic jillaroo.
She has spent days on end in the saddle, built kilometres of fences and even knows her way around an autopsy.
Only, these days, it all comes a lot, lot, harder.
"Some days, you wouldn't know I've had a problem," Ms Foley said.
"Other days, I just want to stay in bed and it takes all day to do something.
"On those days I feel sick of life and think, 'I just can't do this'.
"I've had to find something to motivate myself with and the idea of helping other people with brain injuries in ag was a light-bulb moment."
The inspiration to start a charity, Dust Off Brain Bust, followed a serious brain injury a year ago, two weeks after Ms Foley's 20th birthday.
While on her horse separating cattle, one of the mob charged, panicking the mare.
"It felt like she was bucking forever," Ms Foley said.
"I remember so clearly sinking into the saddle, hanging onto her while trying to pull her up.
"I lost both my stirrups, snapped my rein at some point and hit the ground."
The impact split the helmet Ms Foley wore and badly damaged her right leg.
She woke in "phenomenal pain" with no memory after spending nearly a day unconscious.
Still, Ms Foley was back at work within five weeks.
Then, to make matters worse, her sight failed.
Everything "went white" while she was opening a gate and all she could do was stand by her horse until help arrived.
Spending a week mustering seems beyond reach now and Ms Foley has turned her attention to helping people with brain injuries in agriculture.
A closed Facebook forum launched eight weeks ago already has hundreds of members.
"I'm amazed how many people are in the same boat but, after my own experience, not surprised to see how much need there is for better assistance," she said.
Ms Foley, who is desperate to return to work, said the needs of those with brain injuries were often misunderstood.
Financial hardship was common, too, as many found themselves falling outside the workers compensation safety net.
"We're not being lazy but sometimes more teamwork is needed to get the job done," she said.
Something as routine as mustering on motorbikes was now difficult.
"The pressure of the helmet and the constant noise of the bike and two-way radio makes each minute a struggle," she said.
Dust Off Brain Bust will sell merchandise to build awareness and raise funds to help those living with brain injuries access medical care.
Work Accident Gives Cowgirl New Mission In Life
Nathan Greaves, Gatton Star
Life-changing injuries have given a Gatton-based cowgirl a new mission in life.
In June 2018, RaeLea Foley was working at a feedlot near Dalby when a charging bull caused her mare to buck.
She was thrown from the horse and trampled, suffering injuries to her leg and head.
Due to the demands of the workplace, she was back in the saddle only five weeks later, only to be hospitalised two days after that as the true extent of her trauma became clear.
The incident left her with a myriad of symptoms that continue to detriment her day-to-day life, including memory loss, fatigue, migraines, blurry vision, and hearing loss.
"My recovery is something that's probably never going to end. My symptoms from the injury are actually becoming worse, my health is declining,” she said.
But RaeLea isn't going to let her circumstances get in the way of helping others.
Early on in her recovery, she realised that there wasn't an existing support network or general awareness for issues like what she was going through.
"It's a topic that's not often spoken about. Everyone knows it's a difficult industry to work in, but no one is out there talking about people that are suffering from brain injuries, and are still having to work in agriculture,” she said.
She said cases like her own were far more widespread than many people realise.
"Within the first week or so of me deciding to get in contact with people just for my own support system, I found twenty or thirty people,” she said.
"It wasn't long before I decided I was going to create a support group or charity, to help them, and now I've got a few hundred people. Most of them are Queensland-based, I haven't even got the word out to the other states, so there'd be thousands of people who are suffering this.”
To spread awareness, RaeLea has recently founded a charity, Dust Off Brain Bust, to offer support to survivors, and help educate people about the issue of brain injuries in agriculture.
The charity has only been active for a few months, but they have already established a Facebook-based support group.
"It's solely for people who've suffered brain injuries, so they have a place to come, and talk to other people who are going through similar problems,” Raelea said.
"They can tell their stories, and they're not being judged, because everyone there has gone through the same thing.”
As well as allowing brain injury sufferers to share their experiences, the charity aims to funds to support survivors with their travel, medical bills, and recoveries.
Dust off Brain Bust is seeking support and sponsorship from community groups and companies to help the charity grow and spread awareness.
"A lot of people have messaged me to say it's helped them in some small way. That's all I want to do. If I can just help one person, then that's enough for me,” RaeLea said.
Those interested in getting in touch or learning more are invited to visit RaeLea's website: https://dustoffbrainbust.com/
Meg Gannon, Dalby Herald
RAELEA Foley, 21, was forced to go back to work just a month after an work-related accident that gave her permanent brain injuries.
But she has turned what was a very dark period in her life into something beautiful as she prepares to open a charity for people with brain injuries working the agriculture industry.
On June 3, 2018, Miss Foley, now 21, was bucked from her horse at her workplace just outside of Dalby, and suffered permanent brain injuries.
Five weeks later she was back at work, but ended up in hospital two days after her return.
"I wasn't really given the option at work, unfortunately, it was just kind of 'you need to do your job',” Miss Foley said.
So Miss Foley teamed up with BeefitUp Australia and the Australian Horizons Foundation to deliver her charity, Dust Off Brain Bust.
"A lot of this has been my drive to start my charity because... brain injuries in agriculture are not talked about,” she said.
"There's certainly no coverage and there's no organisations that talk about it.”
Miss Foley found out she wasn't alone in her situation when she began posting in groups of social media.
Her posts attracted an wave of attention from people in the agriculture industry working through their brain injuries.
"I thought 'I'm going to do something about this',” Miss Foley said.
"They all have the same issues, they're not getting financial help, they can't work - and I've had that in my last two jobs.”
To say her injuries impact the way she works and her ability to find employment would be an understatement.
"I've been applying for jobs and a lot of people come back and look at my resume say they want to offer me the job, and I say 'I need to tell you, I've had this accident and these are the things I'm suffering from',” Miss Foley said.
"They say 'it's just not safe for us to have you in a workplace'.”
Miss Foley's symptoms from her brain injuries still linger and affect her day-to-day work and life.
"I have migraines several times a day, I've lost a lot of my hearing... I have blurriness in my vision, I have really bad short term memory loss,” she said.
But Miss Foley hopes that her adversities will lighten the load for those suffering just as she has.
"I don't really mind about myself because that's just my reality, but if I can help someone else then that's what I want to do.”
Brain Injury Sufferer Builds Support Network in Agriculture
ANDREA DAVY, Rural Weekly
A WORKPLACE accident where her horse spooked then bucked over the top of her has changed daily life for RaeLea Foley.
“I took the worst of the impact to my head and right leg,” she said.
“The blow to my head was enough force for the helmet to crack leaving me with a scar and a lot of internal damage.”
From a property near Dalby, Queensland, she was rushed to hospital, then flown to Brisbane - she woke up about eight hours later in intense pain with no memory of the fall. However, the real hard work was still ahead of her.
From that moment on RaeLea dedicated herself to her recovery, with a goal of getting back to her job as a livestock hand. Twelve months on and she still has short-term memory loss, hearing loss, regular headaches and blurry vision in one eye, among a host of other symptoms.
The 21-year-old, however, doesn’t believe she is alone.
Determined to raise awareness about brain injury, she has decided to form a group Dust off Brain Bust to support those working in agriculture with injury.
In her opinion, the industry is lagging behind in its effort to support those in recovery, or offering pathways for those living with an injury to be involved in the sector. After five weeks off work after her accident in June last year, she returned to her old job - but due to her injury could not work at the same level.
“When I first went back to work there were a couple of people that were understanding and helpful but overall the company wasn't very supportive,” she said.
“I got thrown back into full duties and was expected to be back on my horses working full pace on the first day.
“When I came back there were a lot of new faces, and many didn't understand how I was prior or what had happened so they were annoyed, in a sense, in my inability to do something.”
She stayed working as livestock hand, and then this year moved to South Australia to work on a large cattle property as a jillaroo. She absolutely loved her job, but the physical nature and long hours weren’t sustainable while she was in recovery.
“Doctors told me, one more knock could do serious damage. To a point, this made me nervous about my job and I over analysed every little thing I did,” she said. “I had issues arise after a while because I was riding (motorbikes) for long days each week mustering cattle.
“That means pressure on my head from the helmet, for up to 10 hours a day, with the constant noise from the bike and a two-way (radio) in my ear.”
Now based near Gatton, Queensland, determined to stay within the industry, she has obtained her truck licence and is keen to find work within the livestock transport industry.
“A major drive for me in creating this venture Dust Off Brain Bust is to get people talking about this issue and to educate,” she said.
“In all my jobs since the accident a recurring thing is … employers and managers simply have no experience working with someone that has either a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) or Brain Injury. More staff need to be educated on working with someone that has a brain injury.
“Everyone is different but we can't run on the same wavelengths as someone of good health.” In her efforts to launch Dust off Brain Bust, RaeLea has learned there is power in sharing her story.
“People need a support group they can reach out to, to meet others going through the same thing and others with the same struggles mentally and physically.
“Hopefully, inspiration and hope will spark among the group so we can fight the battles together.” The dream goal for the group is to be able to offer financial support to those undergoing treatment and to build a national support network.
July 19th, 2019
Today we announce our support of DUST OFF BRAIN BUST, a support network for farm workers injured at work resulting in an acquired brain injury.
Unfortunately this project was formed by a 20 year old young lady who was following her dreams of being a jillaroo.
Going about her daily tasks, RaeLea's life took an unexpected turn whilst mustering last year.
A bull charged her horse. RaeLea came off the worst.
Now, RaeLea is not just having to jump through the hoops presented to her by bureaucratic red tape but also has to manage her day to day life that has drastically changed. Including daily mental health.
This ramification of this accident not only impacts on RaeLea but also her family and friends.
RaeLea and her family are not alone. Acquired brain injury in the agribusiness sector is more common than you think.
Hence our support to help acquired brain injury sufferers in our rural communities.
Over the coming weeks we will bring you more news about this project but for now please take the time to read RaeLea's story published recently in the Rural Weekly
July 25th, 2019
We are all about rural communities here at BEEFitUP.
Not just farmers but also the small businesses in communities, families and steak holders in general.
But stop and think about this:
Our rural on farm workers and young folk following their chosen career path like Rae - Aussie Cowgirl.
We are so excited to support this campaign to help our rural mates hurt on the job resulting in an acquired brain injury.
Should you like to support, all donations over $2 are 100% tax deductible.
August 14th, 2019
After a workplace accident that left RaeLea Foley with brain injuries she decided something had to be done to support others in rural agriculture experiencing similar challenges. Find out more about RaeLea's charity 'Dust Off Brain Bust' and support those the agriculture industry that work hard to feed the country.
July 10th, 2019
After recovering from her brain injury, RaeLea has decided to set up a support group in her local community to address the unique needs of those with brain injury working in agriculture. Support like this in regional and remote areas is much needed.