COAST TO COUNTRY: How young couple got by during COVID
A YOUNG couple who lost their jobs due to COVID-19 and would have struggled to make ends meet on meagre government support shifted from the Gold Coast to the country to make ends meet.
David Poulter and Rhiannon Terry lost jobs in construction and hospitality respectively at the end of March as coronavirus took grip of the country.
Mr Poulter, who is on a bridging visa, arrived in the country a couple of years ago as a backpacker.
The 26-year-old did his 88 days of farm work on Windolf Farms in the Lockyer Valley and got back in contact with them with the situation looking dire.
“Other job sites were laying people off as well at the same time (as he lost his job),” he said.
“I thought at the end of the day, if everything else shuts the food is not going to stop.
“I still had ties out there so I thought I’d give them a call.”
The couple had just put $10,000 from their savings towards Mr Poulter’s visa and because of his status he was not eligible for financial support.
“I would have only been eligible for $630 a fortnight to pay all our bills and support both of us,” Ms Terry said.
With rent on the coast costing $470 a week as well as other bills to pay, something had to give.
They had three days to pack up their apartment and they made the temporary move west to live in Plainland.
“The situation was sort of an ultimatum,” Mr Poulter said.
“It was either stay there and get in loads of debt and live on the bones of your arse for the next however long or get out and do something different and go somewhere and try and be proactive.
“We couldn’t just sit there, we had to get out there and make money.”
With both the Federal and State Governments urging people out of work to head to the regions to find employment during the pandemic, the couple’s story is an example of how it can work.
A shortage of temporary visa holders coming into the country due to the virus has created jobs that need to be filled across the country.
How successful this push to get people from the cities out on to farms will be remains to be seen but for Mr Poulter and Ms Terry, it got them when their world was thrown upside down.
After four months in the Lockyer Valley, the couple moved to Brisbane and are expecting their first child in December.
For Ms Terry, who had never worked on a farm before, it was an adjustment.
“Bar work is hard because you’re on your feet but it’s not that hard,” she said.
“It’s not manual labour out in the sun.
“It gives me a lot more respect for what David does.
“The hardest thing is shifting your whole life. You miss your friends.
“It’s an experience we’ll always remember. When people ask us what we did during coronavirus we’ll say we packed up our whole life and planted plants for four months.”
Read more stories by Lachlan McIvor here.