Media Release by Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield

Continued social support for drought-affected communities

Joint Media Release with:

  • Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce
    Minister for Human Services, Marise Payne
    Assistant Minister for Social Services, Mitch Fifield

  • Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce
    Minister for Social Services, Kevin Andrews
    Minister for Human Services, Marise Payne

The Australian Government will extend social support and regional drought coordinator services to families living in drought-affected communities in Queensland and New South Wales for a further six months.

Minister for Social Services, Kevin Andrews, Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, Minister for Human Services, Senator Marise Payne, and Assistant Minister for Social Services, Senator Mitch Fifield, said the government understands the hardship being faced by these hardworking Australian families.

“Our response to this need is to extend funding of more than $3.5 million to enable continued support for services delivered under the Community Mental Health and Families and Children Activities,” Mr Andrews said.

“We know that the prolonged drought has brought lasting and sustained hardship to some Australian communities.”

Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, said that addressing the social and mental health needs of drought-affected communities was a priority for the Coalition, and was just as critical as other support measures to assist farmers during this difficult time.

“I’m pleased that these mental health and social support programmes will be extended for a further six months beyond 31 December 2014. After all, people are our most important asset and we are committed to looking after those on the land who are doing it tough as a result of drought,” Minister Joyce said.

Minister Payne said that funding for regional drought coordinators would also be extended for another six months to provide essential referral and outreach services to help families access appropriate social support programmes.

“We know that significant barriers already exist for people in regional areas to access help when they need it most, and drought coordinators play a vital role in overcoming those barriers,” Minister Payne said.

Senator Fifield said the Department of Social Services will work with existing service providers to extend current agreements, where appropriate.

“Community Mental Health services provide support to individuals and families such as one-to-one counselling, or referral to other services,” Senator Fifield said.

“Importantly, these services also build on the strong relationships that exist among the communities affected by the drought by staging community events, for example.

“The Families and Children activity provides outreach support for families in their homes or workplaces, as well as telephone and online support and referral assistance so that families can access immediate family support.

“These are key local activities that will continue to be delivered to ensure these important ongoing social supports are available to these individuals and families.”