Dairy farmers urged to speak up

As dairy farmers across the country come to grips with recently slashed milk prices amid a slump in global prices, industry representatives, support services and governments are reminding those affected to keep talking.

In a visit to Leongatha on Friday State Premier Daniel Andrews announced a $1.5 million support package involving extra counselling, grants and mental health first aid training.

The Look Over the Farm Gate program, which provides training and activities for rural communities to look after their health and each other, received a $100,000 funding boost.

An allocation of $45,000 will go towards Lifeline’s 13 11 14 crisis line, enabling the service to answer about 1800 more calls from Australians in crisis.

Lifeline Gippsland chief executive Claire Davis said the organisation would be looking at ways it could further support local farmers experiencing tough times.

She urged those experiencing high levels of debt and stress to access support, and for the wider community to reach out to those acting more withdrawn.

“It’s very important people doing it tough actually talk to people to get their thoughts and feelings out in the open so it doesn’t get bottled up or built up,” Ms Davis said.

“Obviously the chances of depression and anxiety are particularly high at the moment.

“It’s really important people reach out and let people know how they’re feeling at this time.”

In an effort to help Gippsland dairy farmers understand their options and tactics to work through the current financial and climatic conditions, GippsDairy and Dairy Australia will roll out a new series of events called ‘Tactics for Tight Times’.

In a statement GippsDairy regional manager Allan Cameron said the sessions would help farmers address short-term strategies for finances, feed and the health and wellbeing of family and friends.

“An important part of the Tactics program is addressing the need for looking after yourself during a stressful time and encouraging everyone in the industry to be aware of the issues surrounding physical and mental health and to keep an eye on those around them,” Mr Cameron said.

The National Centre for Farmer Health is also looking for people to champion a Ripple Effect national initiative aimed at reducing the stigma and impact of rural suicide.

The initiative involves attending a one to two hour webinar to hear people’s stories of the impact of suicide and then sharing that message with friends and colleagues.

Ms Davis urged those experiencing depression or anxiety as well as those concerned about another’s health to phone the crisis line for support.

If you are affected by this story or someone you know needs help, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14, Mensline Australia on 1300 789 978 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.

Korumburra Showgrounds from 10.45am to 1pm on 25 May

Meeniyan Bowls Club from 6.45pm to 9.15pm on 26 May

Yarram Uniting Church from 10.15am to 12.30pm on 27 May

Willow Grove football club rooms from 10.45am to 1pm on 30 May

Labertouche Hall from 6.45pm to 9.15pm on 30 May

Bruthen Pub from 10.45am to 1pm on 31 May

RSVP to GippsDairy on 5624 3900 or email executiveassistant@gippsdairy.com.au

The Community Champions webinars will run from early June.

Individuals should register their interest with Alison Kennedy on 5551 8587 or email alison.kennedy@wdhs.net as soon as possible.

NCFH is offering a $100 voucher to cover the cost of participation.

Community champions will also be provided with an information pack to help share the Ripple Effect message.