On 20 November 2014, the Ministers for Agriculture, Social Services and Human Services and the Assistant Minister for Social Services announced additional funding of more than $3.5 million to continue the social and community support measure for a further six months.
This funding will enable support services delivered under the Department of Social Services’ (DSS) Families and Children and Community Mental Health activities, and Department of Human Services’ Drought Coordinators, to continue to assist farm families and communities manage the significant impacts of drought on mental health and wellbeing.
About the social and community support measure
The Australian Government understands that some farmers, farm families and rural communities are doing it tough because of the drought and this can affect their mental health and wellbeing. To assist, the Australian Government is investing over $14 million to enhance social and community support for drought-affected areas.
This measure provides additional free support services, including one-on-one counselling, family support services and referrals to people in need. Community engagement activities and events are a key focus to link people to services that meet their individual needs.
The funding enhances existing programmes delivered by the Department of Social Services. These programmes include the:
The services and events delivered through these programmes:
- provide support services for families dealing with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression and physical health problems
- provide mobile face-to-face outreach services with people in their homes or workplaces, offering family and relationship support, including information and counselling
- provide telephone and online counselling
- provide support in accessing Centrelink payments, financial management and other social support services
- act as referral points for people needing services
- identify people who can be assisted through community-based mental health services, and where necessary refer them to medical services
- educate communities about the cause and early signs of mental health issues
- build community resilience by promoting better general and mental health and emotional wellbeing.
More information about the services to be delivered and a list of service providers is available on the Department of Social Services website or by calling 1300 653 227.
This measure also includes funding for five Drought Coordinators, based in the drought-affected areas of New South Wales and Queensland, to ensure services are coordinated and support is accessible to those who need it. More information is available by contacting the Department of Human Services Drought and Farmer Assistance Hotline 132 316 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm local time).
This measure complements the range of existing services and support that are available on an ongoing basis to assist people who are experiencing distress or mental illness. These services are available now.
Questons and answers
I think I know someone who needs help. Who can I call?
If you or someone you know is in need of immediate help, they can contact:
How do I access social support in my local area?
The social support package utilises existing networks of service providers. The Australian Government provides funding nationally for Community Mental Health Activities and Families and Children Activity services. More information about these programmes, and locating support available in your local area, can be found by following the links below.
Community Mental Health Activity programmes:
Families and Children Activity: