Rural Aid triples counselling team

Australia’s most trusted rural charity, Rural Aid, has made its biggest investment into improving regional mental health to date.

The charity is appointing ten new counsellors across the country this year, committing $3.75 million over the next three years to help address the yawning gaps in regional mental healthcare.
Nine of Rural Aid’s new counsellors are already in place, actively serving their regional community.
Rural Aid counsellors offer free, confidential support to farmers and their families. Rural Aid’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Team prefer to visit farmers on their properties.

Rural Aid CEO John Warlters said “Rural Aid’s commitment to placing counsellors in rural Australia will save lives.”

“We know people who live regionally have poorer access to health professionals and are more likely to struggle with their mental health due to lack of appropriate and timely support. Farmers and rural teenagers have more than double the rate of suicide compared to urban populations*. Rural Aid is desperately trying to change that.”

Liz Bellette-Stubbs is one of Rural Aid’s new counsellors and is based in Bega, New South Wales.
“What drew me to Rural Aid was how accessible their wellbeing program is,” Mrs Bellette-Stubbs said.
“Not only are the counsellors available without a huge waiting list, but we’re free too. Farmers are often so stretched that they can’t afford to buy feed for their animals, let alone spend money on themselves.”
Mr Warlters said Rural Aid’s counsellors were mental wellbeing specialists who counsel, teach and refer clients to higher levels of care.

“We know that investing in early intervention achieves results. It leads to a reduction in the number of people who require acute treatment. This is achieved through the provision of mental wellbeing education, tools and pathways for assistance at the preventative end. Rural Aid counsellors are qualified to assist farmers across the continuum of mental health, from prevention and early intervention, right through to treatment,” Mr Warlters said.

“If we can get to people early, have them recognise symptoms and get some simple but effective strategies, we help them before things escalate to the point they need hospitalisation. This will reduce pressure on the health system while prevention strategies will help rural people to live their best lives they can. “Our counselling program has been highly successful; making a real difference to the farmers that Rural Aid supports. Our counsellors work with their community to create and implement vital mental health programs and strategies. Rural Aid counsellors build trusted relationships with their local communities. Our counsellors also attend field days, events and natural disaster sites.”

Rural Aid’s new counsellors are based in:
  1. Mildura, Vic
  2. Bairnsdale, Vic
  3. Geelong, Vic
  4. Inverell, NSW
  5. Bega, NSW
  6. Berri, SA
  7. Port Augusta, SA
  8. Northam, WA
  9. Wagin, WA
^ Please note, Rural Aid is currently sourcing another counsellor.The new counsellors add to Rural Aid’s existing team of counsellors based in:
  1. Wodonga, VIC
  2. Ipswich, Qld
  3. Toowoomba, Qld
  4. Cessnock, NSW
  5. West Wyalong, NSW
For more information on Rural Aid’s counsellors, visit their profiles here:
For pre-recorded grabs from Rural Aid CEO John Warlters, click here:
For more information or for interviews, contact Ash Whittaker from Rural Aid media on 0447 116 757 or by emailing

About Rural Aid
Rural Aid is Australia’s most trusted rural charity. We stand with our farmers when they need us most. Rural Aid provides critical support to farmers affected by natural disaster through financial, wellbeing and fodder assistance. Rural Aid’s community programs help create more sustainable communities by building stronger futures for all Australian farmers. Find out more at
*Swinburne University Phase One Review Report, 2020