Home Men's Health Farm Gate counsellors get boost under the Emergency Drought Relief Package |...

Farm Gate counsellors get boost under the Emergency Drought Relief Package | The Daily Advertiser


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The Murrumbidgee’s five drought support counsellors will have their tenure extended after securing funding from the state government. Local “farm gate counsellor” Matthew Quinn welcomed news the NSW government’s emergency drought relief package would include $11.93 million for mental health services in rural communities. The farm gate counsellor program will receive $4.38 million under the package and be extended for an additional 12 months. Mr Quinn, who has been in the role since the start of the year, said some farmers were feeling forgotten amid the coronavirus pandemic “despite a bit of rain and a decent looking season so far this year” “The people who have been doing it tough for quite a few years, they’re still going to have those issues to deal with until they get their financial situation back in order,” Mr Quinn said. He said the program was designed for farmers who might be reluctant to seek more traditional, formal mental health support. “It’s not welcoming for some people, especially for men and older men who don’t go and seek help as often as they could,” Mr Quinn said. It can be difficult for farmers to access support within standard business hours, which normally involves a commute for those working and living remotely. “We’ll go out and see people where it’s convenient and where it suits them,” Mr Quinn said. Mr Quinn, who lives on a small farm and and has “a passion for men’s health”, said he jumped at the opportunity take on the role. His work takes him from RFS sheds to weekend training sessions to Field Days and muddy paddocks – all part of his mission to make make emotional support more readily available for farming communities. “Hopefully that will increase the uptake of the service and the contacts we receive from people about the service because people will see oh that’s nice and convenient for me,” he said. “That might make people a little bit more willing to make a phone call when they need to.” NSW minister for mental health Bronnie Taylor said the program, which includes 27 counsellors across the state, was being extended because of the “crucial” specialised support it provided for rural people. “The impact of the ongoing drought, compounded by devastating bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic, is weighing heavily on our rural communities,” Mrs Taylor said. “Having an authentic conversation wherever it works for the person doing it tough can really help to get the ball rolling towards improved mental health and wellbeing.”




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