Meet a Rural Aid counsellor during Mental Health Month

During Mental Health Month (October), Rural Aid asked their rural counsellors to share what they want farmers to know about their mental health. 

Rural Aid counsellor Gary Bentley says the one message he’d like primary producers to know is simple.

“No-one is perfect, no life is perfect…but for every problem there is a solution,” Mr Bentley said. 

“There is no shame in owning up to pain and asking for help. Finding someone to talk to can be an incredibly powerful step.”

“And, above all else, be kind – first to yourself and then to others.”

Mr Bentley’s journey to being a counsellor, after decades in the media, came about due to scarcity.

“I am a Rural Aid counsellor as a personal response to the lack of mental health facilities and assistance in rural communities despite an ever-increasing need,” he explains.

“The service provided by Rural Aid is unique and, since being established a little over two years ago, our counsellors have built a reputation for reliability, empathy and accessibility. What we are doing works…and we see that every day.”

“As a counsellor I am talking every day with farmers either on their property or by phone. And as a representative of Rural Aid I am involved in a wide range of community interaction – speaking at service club meetings, involvement in interagency groups and a lot of diverse media work including radio and television work and production of a counselling column which is published weekly across the country.”

Gary Bentley is based in the Hunter Valley and is primarily responsible for that region. 

“Whilst I’m based in the Hunter Valley, as far as crisis management and disaster response is concerned, I have something of a roaming brief. My work with Rural Aid has taken me into drought, flood and fire areas across a large part of NSW. I have also worked in Victoria and Queensland. Where face-to-face counselling isn’t practical, I am also doing phone counselling across four states.”

Media enquiries: Lyndsey Douglas 0424203935  |
Media spokespersons: Rural Aid CEO John Warlters – 0409 618 641  

About Rural Aid | Rural Aid is one of Australia’s largest rural charities. Well known for the highly successful ‘Buy a Bale’ campaign, the charity also provides financial assistance, water and counselling to farmers in times of drought, flood or fire. Other initiatives support its vision that farming and rural communities are safeguarded to ensure their sustainability both during and after these natural disasters. Visit for further information on these programs and other support for our rural communities. Visit for Rural Aid’s latest assistance statistics.
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