Buy a Bale | Rural Aid’s new counsellor service

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NEW ROLE: Cessnock resident Gary Bentley is one of four counsellors appointed by Rural Aid to support farmers in the Hunter Region.

NEW ROLE: Cessnock resident Gary Bentley is one of four counsellors appointed by Rural Aid to support farmers in the Hunter Region.

On July 1 Rural Aid was proud to announce the arrival of their newest initiative, a counselling service that will support rural communities across Australia.

“At a time when we’re so meant to be connected as a society, isolation, loneliness, depression, suicide and mental health rates are all climbing,” they stated.

“After much consideration we have decided that to meet the increasing crisis in the bush Rural Aid will employ qualified, nationally registered counsellors who will visit farmers and rural communities and live within their communities for a minimum of three years at a time.”

As Jennifer Hoar reported in Dubbo’s Daily Liberal on July 31;

Rural Aid CEO Charles Alder said “We’ve gone from zero to eight [counsellors] within a month of starting the program.

“There’s never been a free counselling service for farmers and farming communities. There have been rural financial counsellors and there have been calls in to Lifeline or other services, but this is actually about having professional, qualified counsellors on the ground, meeting farmers in their own environment and allowing conversations to happen freely and openly.

“Some of them might be in financial stress … marital problems or the fact they can’t pay the kids’ school fees. It doesn’t always have to be a counselling session that ends with a medicinal plan. It could just be someone that needs someone to talk to.”

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Rural Aid also stated “We know that for every divorce, family farm eviction, domestic assault or substance abuse, families and the community become collateral damage. We need to do more to help save our families, our communities and rebuild the concept of a caring community.”

As Monique Smith reported in Cessnock’s The Advertiser, former journalist Gary Bentley is one of the counsellors.

"The drought situation at the moment is just incredible," Mr Bentley said. "Rural Aid is looking for farmers who are in trouble, financially initially, and they help with a whole range of programs."

Rural Aid also wants to make this as widely available as possible. “We’re committed to growing this service to 20 counsellors over the next two years. Your support via donation will help us fund this necessary service.”

To put figures on how much funding is required, “The cost of this service is $150,000 per year per counsellor. A minimum three year term costs us $450,000” per counsellor.

Accessing this service, or pointing them in the direction of someone you know who could use their help, is easy. “If you’d like to talk with a counsellor please call us on 1300 327 624 or any one of the counsellors.”

If you know someone you feel could do with a call or a personal visit, visit ruralaid.org.au/counselling and complete the online form. That way, one of the team can reach out to contact that person.

“All contact will be private and confidential and any referrals are treated in the highest ethical manner.”

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