Media Release

Mental health support for drought-affected communities

17 April 2014

Joint media release

The Hon. Barnaby Joyce MP, Minister for Agriculture
The Hon. Kevin Andrews MP, Minister for Social Services


Drought-affected communities in Queensland and New South Wales will have increased access to free counselling under a $10.7 million Australian Government investment in targeted social and community support.

The Minister for Social Services, Kevin Andrews, and the Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, today said the investment was a key element of the Government’s $320 million package of support for businesses, farm families and rural communities facing hardship brought on by drought.

“The Australian Government understands that some farmers, farm families and rural communities are doing it tough because of the prolonged severe drought and this can affect their mental health and wellbeing,” Mr Andrews said.

“That is why we are investing $10.7 million in additional help, including one-to-one counselling, family support services and referrals and outreach, to people in need in drought-affected communities.

“The Department of Human Services has drought coordinators who will help to ensure good communication and coordination between service providers, so they can best support those in need.”

Mr Joyce said the funds will be delivered through the Family Support Program and Targeted Community Care (Mental Health) Program to 22 existing service providers across drought-affected areas in Queensland and New South Wales.

“The funds will allow providers to go out to these communities, promote support services through community events and offer individual counselling,” Mr Joyce said.

“The providers will also work with other government and non-government services, such as the Rural Financial Counselling Service, health services, emergency relief and other community support organisations, to provide a full range of support to these communities.”

A list of service providers which will receive the additional funds is at  www.dss.gov.au/mental-health/news/drought-assistance.

Information about other support available is available at  www.daff.gov.au/drought.