The Drought Support Team has been on the ground since January 2019 providing ongoing one on one support to farmers, families, businesses and communities affected by drought.
The team is made up of local people with lived experience of rural life, the trials and tribulations of business, and the challenges that can arise during times of adversity.
Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) Rural and Drought Support Team member, Matt March, said, “Even though conditions have improved in many areas we are fully aware that the impacts will be felt for many seasons to come.
“With this understanding of ongoing adversities in rural areas, our role and the support we provide remains the same regardless of natural disaster or adversity.
“This is especially timely considering we are approaching bushfire and storm season. In response to this change, the team will now be known as the Rural and Drought Support Team to reflect the support we provide to rural areas.
“Our ability to establish rapport quickly due to lived experience and pre-existing links to the areas we service has been integral to the program’s effectiveness.
“We also link clients to other supports and services such as financial, medical, agricultural, or mental health professionals and support them through it. This is something not previously provided”. Matt said.
The service is FREE and CONFIDENTIAL with the flexibility to meet on farm, in town, or via phone, text or email. We maintain an ongoing presence at regional events, community meetings and schools.
WNSWLHD Rural and Drought Support Team Clinical Lead Leif Carroll said, “To normalise what people are feeling and how they are reacting in these situations can destigmatise what is happening. By being able to access trusted others to ventilate feelings and get information on services can help to ground them in the present, and to see a pathway into the future”.
WNSWLHD Rural and Drought Support Team member, Heather Jones said, “Basically if you or someone you know is doing it tough and need a bit of support, give us a buzz. We have a ‘no wrong door’ policy so if we can’t help you, we’ll do our best to find someone who can”.
To access the Rural and Drought Support Team service call 02 6881 4000. The service runs Monday to Friday 8.30am – 5.00pm, outside of these hours anyone with concerns about their mental health or that of a friend or loved one should call the Mental Health Line on free call 1800 011 511 or contact their GP.