A new, dedicated phone line will allow farmers across the country to quickly and easily connect with the Rural Aid counselling team.
The direct line will ensure farmers are provided a faster and more trauma-informed response to their request for counselling.
Rural Aid’s counsellors are based across the country and offer free, confidential counselling to farmers and their families.
Rural Aid’s Manager of Mental Health and Wellbeing, Lauren Stracey, said the team will be able to prioritise and respond to calls more effectively with the new number (1300 175 594).
“We know that it’s important to have a trained counsellor help guide farmers through the period of reaching out for help,” Ms Stracey said.
“By initiating a dedicated 1300-line, farmers are able to access a trained counsellor who can support them with referrals for immediate needs, while getting a sense of their story and matching them with the most appropriate support.”
“Taking the first step in seeking support takes guts, but once you’ve done it you realise counselling is really just another tool you can use to get through tough times.”
“Rural Aid is experiencing an increase in the number of farmers reaching out for help at the moment. Some farmers are now at the stage where they are ready for mental health support, after experiencing disaster earlier this year. Also, farmers may have felt an increased sense of anxiety since the confirmation of a third La Nina event.”
“We want to make sure that if a farmer is ready to explore the idea of counselling, that we are there straight away to assist,” Ms Stracey said.
South Australian sheep farmer Kaye Wicker reached out to a Rural Aid counsellor after a series of personal hardships including the death of her brother and compounding financial stress.
“Not only was it very grief filled but it was just an incredible amount of work,” Ms Wicker said.
“It was just that intense fear of losing everything and not being able to keep it together.”
The Waitpinga farmer said she initially found it hard to speak about the things scaring her the most.
“I found my time working with my Rural Aid counsellor very beneficial, just to help breakdown those overwhelming feelings.”
Ms Wicker said the fact the counselling sessions are free meant a barrier was removed to accessing help.
“If there was a charge, I wouldn’t have been able to access it.”
“It takes a lot of courage to make that phonecall. But it’s well worth it if you do,” Ms Wicker said.
Rural Aid counsellors catch up with their farmers where they’re most comfortable; whether it’s on farm, in town, or over the phone.
To get in touch with a Rural Aid counsellor, phone 1300 175 594. This phone line is staffed by a Rural Aid counsellor between 9am and 5pm AEST, Monday to Friday.