Drought Relief: Farm Gate Counsellors to Boost Mental Health Support

Parliamentary Secretary for the Illawarra and South Coast Gareth Ward MP has today announced that local farming communities facing pressure in the wake of severe drought conditions will have access to 20 new ‘farm gate’ counsellors and frontline mental health workers as part of a $6.3 million commitment from the New South Wales Government. 

Mr Ward today announced that more people in drought-affected areas of the Illawarra and Shoalhaven region will now have access to additional mental health supports thanks to an injection of funding by the State Government.

“Every day reports of grief and loss from within farming communities grow in the wake of severe and ongoing drought conditions,” he said.

“It is often difficult to seek help when living in remote and rural area, and this new funding will link people struggling with their mental health into services appropriate to their needs.

“The new funding will provide for additional Rural Adversity Mental Health Program coordinators who will link people struggling with their mental health into support services appropriate to their needs,” Mr Ward said.

The new mental health positions, which build on the existing Rural Adversity Mental Health Program, will be based in the Western, Hunter New England, Murrumbidgee, Nepean Blue Mountains, South Western Sydney and Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health Districts. 

The NSW Minister for Mental Health Tanya Davies said the funding over the next two years will ensure individuals, families and businesses have access to 44,000 hours of crucial mental health support close to home.

“People with lived experience of life on the land will lend a hand at events to start those conversations that might not otherwise be had. This is about reducing stigma, providing hope and support, and most importantly recovery,” Mrs Davies said.

This funding commitment is on top of $4 million already being provided to regional NGO’s to support communities facing natural disaster and drought. The NSW Liberals and Nationals Government’s total commitment to drought is more than $1 billion.

For crisis support please phone Lifeline on 13 11 14.

For more information on mental health services in your community, please contact the NSW Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511, or visit the website at: www.crrmh.com.au for rural mental health information.