Mental health support for drought-affected communities welcome

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Mental health support for drought-affected communities welcome
Monday, 13 Aug 2018

AgForce has welcomed the Queensland Premier’s announcement of funding for mental health and financial counselling services in drought-affected communities.

AgForce CEO Michael Guerin said more than half of Queensland was drought declared and the prolonged nature of the drought in the state was taking an enormous financial, emotional and environmental toll on many regional communities.

“Parts of western and southern Queensland have been in drought for more than six years, which has overwhelmed even the best efforts of many producers to prepare,” he said.

“AgForce has been calling for more secure, long term mental health funding to ensure continuity of services in rural and remote regions. So we welcome the Queensland Government’s support of the Wellbeing Service provided by the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the Tackling Regional Adversity through Integrated Care program.

“We also appreciate the State Government’s decision to increase the maximum distance that fodder can be transported at a subsidised rate and look forward to their review into the effectiveness of the Drought Relief Assistance Scheme.”

Mr Guerin said AgForce would continue to urge the Queensland Government to adopt additional measures that could provide immediate relief to affected communities including:

•    Leasehold land and rent relief;
•    Capital works projects to encourage regional job growth and economic spending; and
•    Increased education support to ensure children from remote areas can remain at school.

Mr Guerin said AgForce had written and spoken to numerous local, state and federal government politicians about drought assistance measures, and would be happy to continue those conversations with the newly-appointed Drought Commissioners.

“Drought has such a big impact on Australian agriculture and extended dry periods are a recurring feature, so we need governments at all levels and politicians on all sides to come together with industry to work on a sustainable approach to managing this issue now and into the future,” he said.

“In particular, AgForce will keep pushing for the adoption of our ‘Agricultural Business Cycle’ approach to drought policy, which aims to move from the current reactive, crisis-driven response from governments to empowering producers to better manage climate risk.”

Media Contacts: Scott Whitby 0418 733 102, Sarah Henderson 0427 626 853

Mental health support for drought-affected communities welcome

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