NSW drought: Lifeline's toolkit for drought-affected farmers

HELP IS AVAILABLE: Lifeline Central West chief executive officer Stephanie Robinson says the charity’s Toolkit will assist drought-affected farmers. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK 082018clifeln1
HELP IS AVAILABLE: Lifeline Central West chief executive officer Stephanie Robinson says the charity’s Toolkit will assist drought-affected farmers. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK 082018clifeln1

THE impacts of the drought go far beyond just stock, feed and dry paddocks and Lifeline chief executive officer Stephanie Robinson says a holistic toolkit is needed to help people cope.

Currently, all of NSW has been declared in drought and with no significant rain in sight many farmers are doing it tough on the land and in the surrounding communities.

The state and federal governments might have announced millions of dollars in funding and support to help the state’s drought-affected farmers, but Ms Robinson said other help is needed.

Lifeline Central West has this week launched a “toolkit” to equip people with the knowledge and confidence they might need to start the conversation.

It touches on financial options; staying connected and the need to not struggle on alone; acknowledging change, loss and grief; involving children and adolescents in coping measures; improving wellbeing; managing mental health and suicidal thoughts and other available resources.

Ms Robinson said each person will cope with the drought in different ways.

“For some people it’s mental health stuff and it’s around stress,” she said.

“Through being on the phones and on the ground in our regional communities, people are tired. It’s exhausting because it doesn’t go away.

“People call us and need help for different things.”

Ms Robinson said financial matters were a huge concern to many farmers and she has heard feedback that it can be difficult and lengthy to apply for available government assistance.

“Sometimes it’s hard just to take to take time out to apply for it,” she said.

“We’ve got seven qualified financial counsellors in our area.

“It’s worth the call and it’s worth chatting to one to see what we can do.”

Ms Robinson said if Lifeline’s financial counsellors were unable to help, they could “point you in the right direction”.

The “evidence based” information contained in the toolkit is also useful for people concerned about their loved ones who are struggling through the drought.

Ms Robinson said the toolkit was a reminder to the community that they are in the position to help their friends, loved ones and neighbours.  

Visit www.lifeline.org.au/drought-tool-kit to download the toolkit.